Today’s surprise in a memorable year came in the form of a very small wader on the floating weed. Despite the remarkable run of American waders that have graced Dorset this week, this one proved to be nothing more than a well marked juvenile Little Stint. Even so, it was a fantastic bird, and only the second after one in November and December last year. The supporting cast included enormous numbers of Hirundines, many of which were migrating very high overhead, together with a couple of Sparrowhawks, a late-ish Willow Warbler calling and a number of Meadow Pipits over west, including, coincidentally, two flocks of 16 birds (George Green, Lorne Bissell, Dominic Couzens, Marcus Lawson et al.)
A very brief ringing spell in windy conditions produced 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Robin (Roger Peart.)
To the disappointment of its potential suitors, the Grey Phalarope was gone this morning. Instead, the lake scene was one again dominated by aerial birds. Yet again there was a late Swift. This year has already beaten the previous latest record for Longham (8th Sept 2011). The rest of the birds – probably at least 1000 of them, were House Martins and Sand Martins (maybe 3:1), with very few Swallows at all. Otherwise, there was a Hobby around, a Snipe was on the island, the 4 Garganeys were found in the afternoon, there were at least 7 Shovelers and the usually gathering of weed-loving ducks, Coots and grebes. There were also still a few Reed Warblers about (Dominic Couzens, Martin Wood.)
I happened to scrutinise the Black-headed Gull flock on the weed this morning, scanning for something phalarope-like. Instead I noticed that, among the 131 individuals, they were all adults except for a single first-winter. Odd.
Longham’s remarkable year continues, this time with a GREY PHALAROPE on the South Lake (see above). Other goodies today included Ringed Plover, the 4 Garganeys, a Common Sandpiper , Hobby and a Swift (Lorne Bissell). The Phalarope is the second Longham record, the first being on 3rd September 2009.
The long staying 4 Garganey still present on the South Lake. In addition there was a large arrival of Willow/chiffs with at least 30 possibly 50 or more in among a large flock of small birds moving through the woods in the south-west corner of the site. This flock also included 2+ Spotted Flycatchers which is a scarce species at Longham. Finally a late Swift was present among large numbers of hirundines (George Green.) The flycatcher was Martin Wood’s 100th species at Longham this year. He also saw a Jay, and a Moorhen with 2 chicks on the pools to the south of the South Lake.
There were plenty of birds on-site today (I saw 56 species) but very few landbird migrants (apart from Hirundines) and little special on offer. That said, the 2 female-type Garganeys remain and are always a good birds to see. A Hobby made an appearance long enough to catch a Swallow and carry it off south, while there was also a Peregrine, and a Black-tailed Godwit flew over. There were a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, and the odd Sedge Warbler. There was, in a sense, a remarkable changing of the guard as far as aerial birds were concerned; while Sand Martins were dominant a few days ago, today the House Martins took over, greatly outnumbering their smaller relatives. For probably the last time this year, the aerial bird tally was completed, by the appearance of a single Swift. One of the more interesting other observations was a Moorhen chick on the Stour, as this species is not recorded breeding every year. Other bits and bobs included the first 4 Meadow Pipits of the autumn, at least 3 Grey Wagtails, a Teal and a few Shovelers (Dominic Couzens).
Quick look at Longham Lakes late pm produced the 4 Garganey showing well on the South Lake and a Wheatear (George Green). Meanwhile, an evening ringing session produced 28 Chiffchaffs, just one adult among them, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Blue Tits and one juvenile male Bullfinch, moulting into his pink breast. Also two retraps – a juvenile Chiffchaff first ringed in early July, so presumably one local bird still hanging around. The other was more interesting – an adult male Great Tit, which I had first ringed at Canford as a nestling in a brood of 5 in May last year. Good to see that he is doing well. Details below (Roger Peart).
TX57681 Nestling 20/05/16 Canford Park, Wimborne,
Recaptured 06/09/17 Longham Lakes, Dorset (3 km SE, 1 year 109 days)
A morning visit revealed large numbers of Hirundines flying low over the lakes, and perhaps surprisingly these were heavily dominated by Sand Martins, which are often tailing off by now. As ever they were all but impossible to count, but a tentative estimate of 350 birds is undoubtedly many fewer than were actually there. This, though, is the highest count ever on site, beating an estimate of 300 in bad weather in March 2010. There were also some Swallows and a handful of House Martins. Perhaps not surprisingly, a Hobby flew over. The Garganey total is back up to 4, along with a few Shovelers and very strong numbers of Gadwall. There was only a scattering of other migrants, including singles of both Reed and Sedge Warbler (Dominic Couzens).
Just two Garganey present. Otherwise little of note, but still good numbers of Gadwall (72+) and Little Grebe (50+) (George Green).
A better than average visit this morning with 3 Garganey, juvenile Ruff still on floating weed with 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Lapwing, and a Hobby briefly flying over Hampreston Meadows. Also good numbers of Little Grebe (44+) and Gadwall (43+ on North Lake+ others on south Lake). (George Green.) There were also notable numbers of Sand Martins about, with a minimum of 20, plus a few Shoveler and 2 Teal (Dominic Couzens.)
Three Garganey still present. They were mobile this pm being seen both on the South Lake and North Lake. Ringed Plover and Ruff reported on the floating weed this am. The Ruff was still present this pm but no sign of the Ringed Plover (George Green).