There was 1 Siberian(-type) Chiffchaff among more typical birds at Longham this morning, on the north-west side of Longham Reservoir North. Also 5 Mediterranean Gulls and lots of Reed Bunting (Lorne Bissell).
The highlight of a mid-afternoon stroll was 4 Sand Martins on a reasonably early date. Also of note were 2 Shelducks, 1 Snipe on the main island on Longham Reservoir South and 5 Redwings over Emily’s Wood, a nice seasonal contrast to the Martins. A quick gull spot-check at 2.20pm revealed 63 Black-headed, 18 Herring, 5 Mediterranean, 4 Lesser Black-backed and 3 Common Gulls. Of minor note was a Sparrowhawk and a few singing Chiffchaffs (Dominic Couzens).
Robin Trundle recorded 44 species this morning, including 3 Cetti’s Warblers (site record), 8 Chiffchaffs including 2 Siberians, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Skylark and 1 Greylag Goose on Hampreston Fields.
The OWLS group recorded 39 species, including 2 Snipe, 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Shelducks, a Stonechat and 5 Little Egrets.
News of a relative “mega” for Longham in the form of a Brambling today, reported to George Green by another birder – only the second for Longham. Also 54 Mediterranean Gulls on Hampreston Fields.
The Greater Scaup was seen for the last time, along with 1 Kestrel (Robin Trundle and Trevor Thorpe).
The Black-necked Grebe was recorded for the last time, along with the immature male Greater Scaup. (George Green)
The Black-necked Grebe still, plus a Dunlin (George Green).
Black-necked Grebe and 1 male Pintail on Longham Reservoir South (George Green).
George Green encountered an intriguing gull this afternoon. Subsequently he wrote: “I have been worrying about the identity of a mystery but very striking ‘Herring-type’ gull which briefly visited the south lake for about 10 minutes last Monday afternoon. I didn’t have a camera, but the bird was too far away to get good pics. I had good views of the bird preening on the water using x60 telescope before it flew off towards Poole.
As the bird flew in I was immediately struck by its appearance. There were 2 Herring Gulls (subadult and imm) and a few Black-headed Gulls nearby for direct comparison. Shortly after I checked through a large flock of gulls including good numbers of Herring and 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls roosting on the Hampreston Meadow floods.
1. Appeared slightly larger and chunkier than nearby Herring Gulls with stouter bill.
2. Mantle dark grey perhaps a shade darker than typical Yellow-legged Gull but not as dark as graellsii Lesser B-b.
3. Broad white tertials.
4. Yellow legs – seen well in flight.
5. Bill lemon yellow – a shade paler than adult Herring Gulls seen later.
6. Very obvious pale lemon yellow iris.
7. The most striking feature of the plumage was the head which was covered by a dense pattern of neat, dark grey streaks and/or spotting. The streaking extended over much of the head except for the nape. The streaking was particularly dense around the eye. The combination of the dark streaking around the eye and the pale eye gave the bird a particularly ‘angry look’.
All of which leads to the very strong possibility that the bird was a Yellow-legged Gull of the Azorean race Larus michahellis atlantis.
The Black-necked Grebe still present, plus 18 Shovelers, 3 Snipe and a Chiffchaff (George Green).
A redhead Smew was present on Longham Reservoir South today along with the Black-necked Grebe (Chris Parnell, George Green).
Black-necked Grebe, 2 Egyptian Geese, Mediterranean Gull and Chiffchaff present today (George Green).
The grebe plus 3 Shelducks today (GG).
The Black-necked Grebe remains on site, as do 3 Shelducks on Hampreston Fields. Also today 1 Greylag Goose and a small influx of Redwings and Fieldfares (George Green).
During the monthly Wetland Birds Survey (WEBS) count, Robin Trundle and Trevor Thorpe recorded Black-necked Grebe, Water Rail, Snipe and Cetti’s Warbler.
On the flooded Hampreston Fields were 2 Egyptian Geese and 3 Shelducks, while a Goosander (the first of the year) was being swept down the River Stour. Meanwhile the long-staying Black-necked Grebe was still in station on Longham Reservoir South (George Green).
The Black-necked Grebe remains.
Large numbers of wildfowl present, including about 235 Wigeon, 50-100 Gadwall, 30-40 Teal and 19 Shoveler. The Black-necked Grebe remains, while a Water Rail called and there were 4 Mediterranean Gulls (George Green).
My first visit to Longham this year, and as if to demonstrate that perverse streak in birding, I saw three species that I missed completely here last year: Black-necked Grebe, Bullfinch and Kingfisher. (Dominic Couzens)
Impressive numbers of wildfowl around, including 100 plus Wigeon and Gadwall, 50 or more Teal, and singles of Mediterranean Gull and Kingfisher (George Green).
RECORDS FROM AUTUMN 2013
26th December 2013
Trevor Wilkinson found the Black-necked Grebe, only the third record for Longham.
15th December 2013
There were 29 Shovelers on the lakes (Robin Trundle).
1 December 2013
Chris Wilkinson was fortunate enough to see the Penduline Tit (see below) on its last appearance.
Big drama at Longham Lakes. A Sparrowhawk attacked and caught the Blue Tit that had been in loose association with the Penduline Tit. The latter, spooked, flew up and high in the SSW direction.
The Penduline Tit showed off and on from 8am, but was becoming increasingly difficult to see.
The Penduline Tit delighted visitors all day.
Jackie Hull was taking a group round Longham Lakes when she stumbled into what turned out to be the site’s rarest bird visitor to date, a delightful juvenile Penduline Tit, which proved to be the only record in Dorset this year. The bird spent most of its time in the bulrush-fringed pools at the southern end of Longham Reservoir South. Congratulations, Jackie.
Just 5 birds ringed today, but good ones: 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Lesser Redpoll, the 2 latest ever of Chiffchaff (surely wintering) and a 1st winter female Chaffinch (Roger Peart).
George Green counted 42+ Gadwall, 30+ Shoveler and saw Peregrine and Snipe.
A low key ringing session was enlivened by a Kingfisher (Roger Peart).
There was an impressive movement of Woodpigeons over the lakes this morning, with 700+ counted. On the lakes were 144 Wigeon and 13 Shoveler, while 22 Black-tailed Godwits and 17 Lapwings flew over. Also about were 2 Kingfishers, a Chiffchaff and a Water Rail. In addition to the birds it was a good insect day: 1 Clouded Yellow, 1 Red Admiral and 1 Common Darter (dragonfly).
Little to report except for 2 Bullfinches (George Green).
The OWLS group saw a Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin.
George Green found a Common Toad on site.
The eclipse male Red-crested Pochard was recorded for the last time, before evidently receiving a better offer at Blashford Lakes. A Raven was also around.