2014 so far at Longham (plus late autumn 2013)

March 21st
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).

March 18th
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).

March 16th
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.

March 12th
The OWLS group recorded 39 species, including 2 Snipe, 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Shelducks, a Stonechat and 5 Little Egrets.

February 22nd
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.

February 21st
The Greater Scaup was seen for the last time, along with 1 Kestrel (Robin Trundle and Trevor Thorpe).

February 19th
The Black-necked Grebe was recorded for the last time, along with the immature male Greater Scaup. (George Green)

February 18th
The Black-necked Grebe still, plus a Dunlin (George Green).

February 17th
Black-necked Grebe and 1 male Pintail on Longham Reservoir South (George Green).

February 12th
Alan Pearce managed this shot of the Black-necked Grebe.

February 10th
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.

Main features:

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.

February 7th
The Black-necked Grebe still present, plus 18 Shovelers, 3 Snipe and a Chiffchaff (George Green).

February 1st
A redhead Smew was present on Longham Reservoir South today along with the Black-necked Grebe (Chris Parnell, George Green).

January 25th
Black-necked Grebe, 2 Egyptian Geese, Mediterranean Gull and Chiffchaff present today (George Green).

January 23rd
The grebe plus 3 Shelducks today (GG).

January 20th
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).

January 19th
During the monthly Wetland Birds Survey (WEBS) count, Robin Trundle and Trevor Thorpe recorded Black-necked Grebe, Water Rail, Snipe and Cetti’s Warbler.

January 11th
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).

January 9th
The Black-necked Grebe remains.

January 7th
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).

January 6th
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)

January 2nd
Impressive numbers of wildfowl around, including 100 plus Wigeon and Gadwall, 50 or more Teal, and singles of Mediterranean Gull and Kingfisher (George Green).


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.

29th November
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.

Penduline Tit (juvenile), Longham Lakes, Dorset, 27/11/13 (Dominic Couzens)

28th November
The Penduline Tit showed off and on from 8am, but was becoming increasingly difficult to see.

27th November
The Penduline Tit delighted visitors all day.

26th November
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.

25th November
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).

19th November
George Green counted 42+ Gadwall, 30+ Shoveler and saw Peregrine and Snipe.

13th November
A low key ringing session was enlivened by a Kingfisher (Roger Peart).

10th November
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).

6th November
Little to report except for 2 Bullfinches (George Green).

23rd October
The OWLS group saw a Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin.

7th October
George Green found a Common Toad on site.

4th October
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.

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