Author Archives: Dominic

In the Telegraph

An exciting weekend for me. Today (Sunday) I have a feature in the Country Matters section of the Telegraph on learning bird song in January.
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And then, delighted to be part of the “Saturday” section of the Telegraph yesterday, a short section on Red Squirrels. Alongside some classy company, including Stephen Moss, John Lister-Kaye, Miriam Darlington et al.

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What’s Been Seen on Trips Recently

This post tells you what birds have been showing on the trips that I run, either day trips or short Wednesday morning excursions. They are either a good memory or you’ll find out what you missed!

Wednesday 17th January – Poole Park
On a chilly morning with keen winds and sunshine, we mingled with Poole residents enjoying Poole Park Lake. There were loads of waterbirds about. On which other urban lake can you enjoy the communal displays of ducks such as Goldeneye (“head-throwing”) and Red-breasted Merganser (“sky-pointing”), as well as getting good views of a wintering Great Northern Diver? Next door on Baiter Park there were 250 Oystercatchers, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and a flock of Brent Geese. The coffee in the Ark café wasn’t bad, either. 36 species in all.

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Wednesday Morning trips in Dorset and Hampshire

Would you like to join me for short birdwatching trips on Wednesday mornings this spring? We meet on site and everybody pays £8 per person per trip. Open to all. Please book by e-mailing me at dominic.couzens@btinternet.com

10.00am-12.00pm.

17th January – Poole Park
Meet at the main car park (e.g. for Poole Park cafe/ice rink (The Ark). BH15 2SF.

24th January  – Upton Country Park
Meet at the car park, signposted off A35 just west of Poole. BH17 7BJ.

31st January – Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour
Meet at (paying) car park for Chesil Beach Centre,  Portland Beach Road, Portland DT4 9XE (Grid ref: SY 668755)

21st February – Crichel Lake
A lovely spot just north of Wimborne with a range of farmland and water birds. From the B3078 Wimborne-Cranborne Road take the minor road signposted to Witchampton. Follow the road (Witchampton Lane) round to New Town and park between the gate and the end of the road – by the cricket pitch is ideal. ST 993072  BH21 5AL

28th February – Maiden Castle, Dorchester
Park at main car park, at end of Maiden Castle Road, accessible from B3147 (Weymouth Avenue) south of the centre of Dorchester. SY 668889 (approx. DT2 9PP)

7th March – Wilverley Inclosure, New Forest
Just south-east of Burley. Take turning off A35 for Burley, but instead of proceeding towards town, follow opposite direction towards Sway and Brockenhurst. After about a mile, turn left at T-junction and then park in car park on left beyond the plantation and triangle (Wilverley Plain). SU253010 (Burley Rd, Brockenhurst SO42 7UP).

14th March – Ballard Down, Swanage
Meet at Ballard Down Stores, Redcliffe Road, Swanage BH19 1NE (SZ 029803).

28th MarchHengistbury Head
Meet at the main (paying) car park by the Centre and cafe (BH6 4EN) at the end of Broadway, a road off the B3059 just south of Tuckton Bridge. SZ 163911

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Longham Lakes 2017 – a review

THE YEAR 2017 in review at Longham Lakes, Dorset

This year has been fantastic in just about every aspect for this site, for birding and wildlife-watching generally. The total of 134 species of birds is a record, just, but it was the quality that stood out, and a nice touch was that unusual species often came at the same time. Six bird species appeared for the first time: Bonaparte’s Gull (26th April), Red-rumped Swallow (27th April), Serin (29th April), Common Scoter (7th October), Velvet Scoter (16th October) and Lesser Scaup (23rd October) bringing the overall total to 186 species. Several made their second appearance, namely Grasshopper Warbler (27th April), Bar-tailed Godwit (13th May), Grey Phalarope (12th September), Little Stint (15th September) and Black Redstart (31st October), while Hawfinch (21st October) turned up for the 3rd time. Other good birds included Great Egrets, with 3 at the beginning of the year and 1 at the end, Bearded Reedling, Yellow-browed Warbler, Arctic Tern, Water Pipit, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Osprey, Merlin, Black Tern, Garganey, Whinchat and many others. Other eclectic bird highlights included gatherings of 1000+ Starlings, a Chiffchaff ringed here after a trip 770km down from Scotland, a summer when over 200 Tufted Duckings hatched, and superb numbers of ducks and other waterbirds present in the autumn.

Among other wildlife, 2017 will stand out as an exceptional year for dragonflies and damselflies. This included 2 new species for the site, which were Red-veined Darter and Britain’s 8th Scarlet Darter. In early July these two, plus Lesser Emperor and Small Red-eyed Damselfly, were all present, allowing an unprecedented spectacle of 4 rare or scarce species on this single site. On 9th July no less than 16 dragonfly species were present on one square kilometre. This could constitute the highest number recorded at a single location on one day ever in Britain. At the same time there were 16 species of butterflies on site, although no rarities among these.

It was not spectacular for mammals in 2017, but there were at least 5 records of Otters, plus a Mink and a Stoat, and at least 6 species of bat, including Nathusius’s Pipistrelle.

This year, perhaps not surprisingly, saw a sharp increase in the number of birdwatchers visiting Longham, and there are now almost 200 pass-holders that use the car park. As a visitor and regular, I have been really pleased to see how the dog-walking visitors have almost invariably kept their pets under control. Unfortunately, the kayakers in the DUCKS group have regularly been seen violating their exclusion zones, particularly around the island in North Lake.

I will give the last word to Martin Wood who, along with Lorne Bissell, has visited Longham more often than any other birder this year, taking up the Patchwork Challenge, as did Darran Jones (https://greatbritishbirdhunt.blogspot.co.uk/).

“It has been a great year patching Longham with a list of 112 species seen with some wonderful lifers and site firsts for me, and it has been a pleasure and good fun sharing these birds with other Longham Birders and others. As I reflect on the past year some of the best moments were seeing my first Bonaparte’s Gull, which led to an exciting hour or so watching the Bonaparte’s with Terry Elborn and a Mike Gibbons, only for a Red-rumped Swallow to arrive, another first for me. Then on another day seeing Bearded Reedlings and the Lesser Scaup on the same day.  And of course I cannot forget that magic moment when my picture of a dragonfly, which I assumed was a Red-veined Darter,  was re-identified as a Scarlet Darter.

“There is something I have learned on this journey, and that is I need to learn more about how to identify bird calls during visible migration, as this is one part of my birding that lets me down . Also get to grips with the Dragonflies, more Butterflies and one new hobby I started this year, Moth-trapping (thanks to Mark Andrews.)”

 

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January 2018 at Longham Lakes

20th January
Best birds for me this morning were Great White Egret, Water Rail and Peregrine (Robin Trundle.) Additionally, Greylag Goose – 105 on the meadows; Water Rail – 2 by the jetty on south lake and 1 on the main island, with a few others heard; Mediterranean Gull – 5; Kingfisher – 1 flying over the meadows; Hawfinch – again in hedge along the east side of south lake (Kevin Lane.) Lots of Great Tits singing, plus Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest, a Reed Bunting and 5 Greenfinches (Martin Wood.)

14th January
Spent the morning (06.45-12.00)  and also the last hour of daylight at Longham today, with a total of 70 species. [that equals the day-listing record]. Mainly common/expected stuff, but a few notable bits: Great Egret – 1 early morning on north lake and the second briefly over south lake. 1 flew back in to south lake at dusk; Greylag Goose – 80+ left south lake at dawn and returned after dark; Peregrine – 1 over south lake with prey; Water Rail – 5+ mainly heard. 1 feeding along the causeway; Black-tailed Godwit – c80 circled but didn’t land; Chiffchaff – 1 giving the downslurred juv-type call at the thicket by north lake; Magpie – roost of 70+ south of south lake; Raven – 1 on the pylons in the morning; Starling – small murmuration/roost (c1,000 birds) in the scrub behind the larger of the 2 ponds at the south end (Kevin Lane.)

Meanwhile, Steve Smith had a Lesser Redpoll in the se corner of South Lake, with Goldfinches. He also counted 77 Pochard and 18 Little Grebe. Martin Wood added Stock Dove, Jay and Rook to his yearlist.

13th January
A Hawfinch was seen in the morning perched in Oak tree on east side of South Lake, Longham. 2 Great Egrets the best of the rest (Kevin Lane.)

12th January
The Hawfinch was seen again today still in the general area of the Sheep Field. Also great views of Siberian Chiffchaff which was calling nicely near The Thicket (Matthew Bell.)

11th January
There were 2 Great Egrets , 3 Chiffchaffs and a Water Rail was heard (Dave and Pat Harris and OWLs).

10th January
Lovely morning but seemed a little less birdy than yesterday.  Sadly no sign of yesterday’s Hawfinch.  The 2 Great White Egrets were present mid morning but then both flew off SW towards Poole.  Best of the rest – 2 Chiffchaffs and Raven heard (George Green.)

9th January
Absolutely delighted to find a Hawfinch on patch today. The bird was frequenting the trees surrounding the Sheep field in the east of the patch. Also two Great White Egrets (Matthew Bell). Also 17+ Black-tailed Godwits, a Peregrine, a large flock of Fieldfare and Redwing and a pair of Ravens (George Green.)

8th January
Time limited visit to site this morning between 0930 and 1030, viewed from concrete slipway only, yielded 23 species the highlights of which were a Black-tailed Godwit on the island shore, Water Rail and Grey Wagtail both close to slipway and a Common Gull.  Large numbers of Lapwing, Shoveler and Gadwall amongst other regulars (Ron Poulter.)

7th January
Now 2 Great Egrets on island and a pair of Cetti’s Warblers also seen, large numbers of Shoveler and Pochard. Group of 40+ Cormorant arrived together (David Foster.) Mandarin – drake on/around the same island; Black-tailed Godwit – 17 flew north without stopping; Greylag Goose – 82 on Hampreston Meadows [a record] (Kevin Lane.)

6th January
Great White Egret – still present; Pintail – 3 circled over south lake but didn’t settle; Chiffchaff – 1 at the far end of the causeway; Firecrest – 1 near the Scarlet Darter pond (south of South Lake); Lesser Redpoll – 1 feeding on the small island at the south end of south lake; Siskin – 2 or 3 in the woods (Kevin Lane.) In the afternoon, highlights were c30 Black-tailed Godwits circling the lake and Hampreston Fields, a Fieldfare with 3 Song Thrush in the sheep field and 2 Water Rail again by the slipway jetty in the north east corner. Male Kestrel working the south-east corner (Martin Wood.)

5th January
Much quieter than recently with much smaller numbers of wildfowl.  Apart from the Great White Egret the only sighting of note was a pair of Pintail (George Green.) Martin Wood saw a Bullfinch, 350 days earlier in the year than 2017.

3rd January
The Great Egret is still present (Ian Ballam).

Mute Swan

Mute Swan (immature), Longham Lakes, 2/1/2018 (Trevor Wilkinson).

2nd January
The Great Egret was on the main island on South Lake, and there were also 3 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons. Among other waterbirds were 4 Moorhens, 5 Little Grebes and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls. 7 Greylag Geese were on Hampreston Fields (Trevor Wilkinson.)

 

1st January
The year began in true style with a major Longham rarity, a Hawfinch in the hedge by the Study Centre car park. This is the first one that has not been seen simply flying over, and a nice surprise for arch Longham lister, Martin Wood. The Great Egret was still around, and he also saw 5 Redwings and 2 Water Rails, the latter by the slipway jetty (north bank of South Lake). I started the New Year’s birding off at Emily’s Wood and was rewarded by a delightful flock of 50 Siskins preening in the rain, as well as a Nuthatch. Among 50 species seen were a female Pintail and a Great Black-backed Gull (Dominic Couzens.) Terry Elborn’s 90 minute birding sweep added a Sparrowhawk to the Patch’s year-list.

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Britain’s Mammals is also ‘book of the month’ in the British Birds subscriber e-newsletter – issue 32. Very rare (if unique?) for a non-bird book to achieved that accolade!
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December 2017 at Longham Lakes

THE YEAR 2017 in review at Longham Lakes, Dorset

This year has been fantastic in just about every aspect for this site, for birding and wildlife-watching generally. The total of 134 species of birds is a record, just, but it was the quality that stood out, and a nice touch was that unusual species often came at the same time. Six bird species appeared for the first time: Bonaparte’s Gull (26th April), Red-rumped Swallow (27th April), Serin (29th April), Common Scoter (7th October), Velvet Scoter (16th October) and Lesser Scaup (23rd October) bringing the overall total to 186 species. Several made their second appearance, namely Grasshopper Warbler (27th April), Bar-tailed Godwit (13th May), Grey Phalarope (12th September), Little Stint (15th September) and Black Redstart (31st October), while Hawfinch (21st October) turned up for the 3rd time. Other good birds included Great Egrets, with 3 at the beginning of the year and 1 at the end, Bearded Reedling, Yellow-browed Warbler, Arctic Tern, Water Pipit, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Osprey, Merlin, Black Tern, Garganey, Whinchat and many others. Other eclectic bird highlights included gatherings of 1000+ Starlings, a Chiffchaff ringed here after a trip 770km down from Scotland, a summer when over 200 Tufted Duckings hatched, and superb numbers of ducks and other waterbirds present in the autumn.

Among other wildlife, 2017 will stand out as an exceptional year for dragonflies and damselflies. This included 2 new species for the site, which were Red-veined Darter and Britain’s 8th Scarlet Darter. In early July these two, plus Lesser Emperor and Small Red-eyed Damselfly, were all present, allowing an unprecedented spectacle of 4 rare or scarce species on this single site. On 9th July no less than 16 dragonfly species were present on one square kilometre. This could constitute the highest number recorded at a single location on one day ever in Britain. At the same time there were 16 species of butterflies on site, although no rarities among these.

It was not spectacular for mammals in 2017, but there were at least 5 records of Otters, plus a Mink and a Stoat, and at least 6 species of bat, including Nathusius’s Pipistrelle.

This year, perhaps not surprisingly, saw a sharp increase in the number of birdwatchers visiting Longham, and there are now almost 200 pass-holders that use the car park. As a visitor and regular, I have been really pleased to see how the dog-walking visitors have almost invariably kept their pets under control. Unfortunately, the kayakers in the DUCKS group have regularly been seen violating their exclusion zones, particularly around the island in North Lake.

I will give the last word to Martin Wood who, along with Lorne Bissell, has visited Longham more often than any other birder this year, taking up the Patchwork Challenge, as did Darran Jones (https://greatbritishbirdhunt.blogspot.co.uk/).

“It has been a great year patching Longham with a list of 112 species seen with some wonderful lifers and site firsts for me, and it has been a pleasure and good fun sharing these birds with other Longham Birders and others. As I reflect on the past year some of the best moments were seeing my first Bonaparte’s Gull, which led to an exciting hour or so watching the Bonaparte’s with Terry Elborn and a Mike Gibbons, only for a Red-rumped Swallow to arrive, another first for me. Then on another day seeing Bearded Reedlings and the Lesser Scaup on the same day.  And of course I cannot forget that magic moment when my picture of a dragonfly, which I assumed was a Red-veined Darter,  was re-identified as a Scarlet Darter.

“There is something I have learned on this journey, and that is I need to learn more about how to identify bird calls during visible migration, as this is one part of my birding that lets me down . Also get to grips with the Dragonflies, more Butterflies and one new hobby I started this year,  Moth-trapping (thanks to Mark Andrews.)”

A very Happy New Year to everybody. Bring it on!

31st December
The Great Egret is present, topping and tailing the year (Ian Lewis).

30th December
There were 2 Great White Egrets this morning – 1 on the Island in the South Lake and a 2nd bird which flew up from the River Stour and headed SW towards Poole Harbour.  Otherwise still large numbers of birds on the South Lake including 17+ Pintail which is an exceptional count for the site.  Also of note were at least 20+ Snipe flushed from the middle of the Island by a passing raptor and c1000 Starlings feeding in Hampreston Meadows (George Green.) Also 26 Greylag Geese, 171 Canada Geese (easily a record), 117 Lapwing, 13 Moorhen (also a record!), 1 Kestrel and 2 singing Song Thrushes (Trevor Thorpe).

29th December
Martin Wood writes: “Possibly my last walk round South Lake today as the New Year is starting to close in.  A rainbow greeted me this afternoon as I pulled in to the car park and I wished for one new bird for the list. I scanned the island from the slipway just as it started to rain and sheltering from the wind a much as was possible were 10 Little Egrets, a Grey Heron and the Great White Egret (hopefully it will stick around for the New Year!) Most of if not all of the weed has now been blown on to the shore line, the Hampreston fields were flooded with most of the gulls and Canada Geese were in the far field on the other side of the river. While a few Teal and Wigeon were on this side of the river in the flooded field, a large number were still out on the lake with the best count of Pochard I have had this winter with 30 birds seen, still lots of other wildfowl about like Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall , Little Grebes 14, and Mute Swans 60. It was very nice to see the male Kestrel again with a small mammal which I was pleased to see that he is still hunting successfully and surviving this weather.

“Alas, my wish never came true as I could only locate two Snipe on the large island and neither of them a Jack snipe, which is one of the two birds I have been hoping to see, the other was a Water Pipit before the end of the year” (Martin Wood.)

27th December
There was a Goosander briefly on the North Lake today (Lorne Bissell).

26th December
Had a wonderful morning’s walk round south lake until the rain started. Still plenty of wildfowl about a good. Finally ticked off Treecreeper with two seen on the Oak Tree close to the to the fence in Samuel’s Wood. The Treecreeper is possibly the last new bird I will see at Longham in 2017. It as been a great year at the lakes- 113 birds for the Patch Work Challenge List, though for the Longham list this works out as 112 species plus 1 Siberian Chiffchaff (Martin Wood.)

24th December
Great White Egret still present – seen flying along River Stour and then across South Lake (George Green.) Plenty of other birds about; the lakes are thick with them. A Mediterranean Gull was a decent bird (Dominic Couzens, Ed Parnell).

23rd December
Still lots of wildfowl out on the water. Looked through c200 Black-headed Gulls hoping to find a Bonaparte’s but only 1 Mediterranean Gull among them, plus a couple of Common Gulls. 40 odd Lapwing were circling round the Island (Martin Wood.)

Firecrest

Firecrest, Longham Lakes, Dorset 21/12/2017 (Lorbe Bissell)

21st December
2 Firecrests were present today (Lorne Bissell).

20th December
Great White Egret still on South Lake this afternoon, plus Black-tailed Godwit (George Green.)

18th December
I did a rough count and estimated at least 1700-2000 birds were on the South Lake. These are by far the highest numbers since I started regularly visiting Longham Lakes in 2011. Today’s highlights have included Pintail and Black-tailed Godwits (George Green.)

Sibe Chiff

Putative Siberian Chiffchaff, Longahm Lakes, Dorset 16/12/2017 (Martin Wood)

16th December
I had brief views of what was presumably a Siberian type Chiffchaff. Also Pintail and Black-tailed Godwit (George Green.) Another good walk round South Lake this afternoon, with 42 species seen. The highlight for me was seeing a site 1st for me, a wonderful Firecrest. A mass of wildfowl are still out on the lakes with c50 Teal, 2 Pintail, 20 Pochard and loads of Wigeon, Gadwall and Coot. The Great White Egret was on the large island again this afternoon with 5 Snipe with 8 Little Egrets at one time. And I found another Bullfinch today  (Martin Wood.)

14th December
Stacks of birds – about c200 Wigeon, Lapwing 100, Gadwall c100, Pochard 25, Meadow Pipit c40 but could not find a Water Pipit among them, they were on the flooded field west of the lakes. The highlight of the day though was seeming a Great White Egret on the large island in South Lake and 4 male Pintails close to the western shore . Mission Bullfinch was also completed[finally!] with 2 Bullfinch seen near the visitor centre (Martin Wood.)

Great Egret

Great Egret, Longham Lakes, Dorset 13/12/2017 (Trevor Wilkinson)

13th December
The South Lake was very busy, and with more ducks on the North Lake than I’ve seen for a while. Counts included 1 Great White Egret, Little Egret, 3 Moorhen, 3 Little Grebe, 10+ Goldfinch, 6 Fieldfares, 5 Lapwing, 1 Greylag Goose and 70 Canada Geese (Trevor Wilkinson.) On the same day, Dave and Pat Harris saw some extra stuff, including Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Pintail, Black-tailed Godwit and Water Rail (heard.)

3rd December
There was a nice male Kestrel on a fence, consuming a small mammal. Still c100 Lapwing resting on the mat of weed close to the western shore. Plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare about, and a Goldcrest. A Water Rail was showing well by the jetty in the north east corner (Martin Wood.)

1st December
A very nice, icy-cold walk round South Lake, revealing a good number of Wigeon and Gadwall, plus at least 10 Pochard along with 8-9 Teal. A Kingfisher was on the west bank, perched on a low branch over the ditch. A Sparrowhawk came over the south end of Samuel’s Wood and flew across the little pools towards Emily’s Wood. Great to see 24 Fieldfare and Redwing feeding on berries in the scrub area on the east side . Also it was wonderful to be able to get close to two Water Rail feeding out in the open in the north-east corner of south lake just by the jetty (Martin Wood.)

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Autumn 2017 at Longham Lakes

5th November
A nice afternoon, with male Kestrel seen several times, 3 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk low over the lake. 80 Lapwings were counted before being put by canoeists , 1 Common Gull in with lots of Black-headed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls (Martin Wood.)

3rd November
The lake was stacked with birds, mainly Coots and Mute Swans, with plenty of Wigeon, a few Shoveler and a small number of Teal. 100 Lapwings were resting on the mat of weed. What did surprise me, though, was the number of Moorhens – I counted 9 birds never seen so many round the lakes before. The male Kestrel was in a small bush  on the west side of the lake. In the far distance over by the farm there were two Egrets (think they were Little Egrets) roosting in a tree with crows for company (Martin Wood.)

Little going regards ringing from 3.30pm, an adult female Blackbird, an adult Robin, a Goldcrest and a re-trap Chiffchaff. The latter was a bird I ringed on 5th December last year so nice to see it is still around (Roger Peart.)

2nd November
Ringing very quiet today – only 4 new birds: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Great Tit and 1 Green Woodpecker. Also 1 re-trap, a Great Tit first ringed October 2015 (Roger Peart.)

31st October
The best bird today was a Black Redstart late morning behind the pumping station at the south lake hopping around on the solar panels (Matt Bell.) Also 1 Black-tailed Godwit (Darren Hughes).

Ringing produced only 25 new birds – a big drop from yesterday. 8 Goldcrest, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Firecrests and one each of Redwing, Song Thrush, Wren, Great Tit. The 4 re-traps were 2 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Great Tit and 1 Blue Tit. The latter was first ringed at the end of May 2016 when it was aged as in its second year. The other re-traps  were all from this summer.

Amazingly I have had news today of the control Chiffchaff I caught yesterday. It travelled a long way (almost 770km) in 30 days, from the Deer Park Forest Croft, in the Scottish Highlands.

Coal Tit

Coal Tit, Longham Lakes, Dorset 30/10/2017 (Roger Peart)

30th October
It was a good morning’s ringing session today. I caught 45 new birds and 4 re-traps plus a control Chiffchaff [a bird previously ringed somewhere else]. Almost half of the new birds were Goldcrests (22) and there were 4 Redwings, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Wrens, 2 each of Blue Tit, Great Tit and Song Thrush, and one each of Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Bullfinch (female), a Firecrest and, a new ringing record for Longham – a Coal Tit [and a rare bird here overall.] (Roger Peart).

Firecrest

Firecrest, Longham Lakes, Dorset 30/10/2017 (Roger Peart)

Meanwhile, around the site generally there was a decent range of birds, including a Water Rail showing well on the smaller island in Longham Reservoir South, plus Stonechat on Hampreston Fields, and counts including 80 Mute Swans and 11 Lapwings. There were also 3 Red Admirals and a large blue dragonfly (of some sort). (Trevor Wilkinson). There appears also to be  small roost of Magpies in the bushes in the south-east corner, at least 6 birds.

29th October
Pochard numbers have increased to 10 birds (Ron Poulter).

Woodpigeons

Woodpigeons, Longham Lakes 28/10/2017 (Lorne Bissell)

28th October

Today’s visible migration was dominated by Wood Pigeons, with 2200 of them moving south-west between 07.55 and 08.35. This is the highest count at Longham by far, and was, at times a good spectacle. Other moving birds included 15 Redpolls (it was a good day for these county-wide), 5 Reed Buntings, a few Skylarks, maybe 30 Redwings/Song Thrushes and several other species that may just have been flying around: 5 Linnets, 3 Grey Wagtails, 100 Starlings and a few Bullfinches and Siskins. In the early morning the Great Egret was settled on a tree by Longham Reservoir North but soon flew off north, while there was also 1 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Gulls and the 2 Bearded Tits were still along the east bank (Dominic Couzens, Lorne Bissell.)

Meanwhile, it turns out that the Lesser Scaup has disgraced itself by moving to Blashford Lakes.

27th October
A classic October day. It would have been good anywhere, but here on this inland patch it was exceptional. Having said that, the Lesser Scaup proved to be a party pooper and wasn’t seen at all.

Longham is never really good for visible migration, but at least it has now tapped into the countrywide Hawfinch extravaganza, with one low over the south-eastern corner (the Settling Marsh) at 07.55, calling loudly on its way north. Thereafter there were a few Redwings and Song Thrushes over west, plus a small finch passage that included the first Redpolls of the year, a singleton and a flock of three. Reed Buntings, Linnets, Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits were also on the move in very small numbers, and Wood Pigeons in a more significant movement, certainly in the 100s. Most surprisingly, during this early flush of birds a Great Egret flew fairly high to the north at 08.37. Meanwhile, the Starling roost was terrorised by 2 different Sparrowhawks, which kept on calling loudly and seemingly cowed the birds into leaving very late; at least one Starling never made it out. A little later on a late Swallow turned up, the odd Skylark flew over and so did 2 Ravens.

Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit (male), Longham Lakes, Dorset, 27/10/2017 (Paul Wilkins).

A big feature of the morning was the amazing entertainment provided by the Bearded Tits on the eastern shore of Longham Reservoir South. One pair was showing astoundingly well, and regularly “High-flying”, taking to the air, circling and then dropping down again, like a stone. Many birders got great views of this delightful autumnal behaviour.

By 11am I was beginning to realise that I had seen a lot of birds and, when I tallied them, it came to an equal of the previous Longham Lakes day record, 67 species – and no Collared Dove yet. A quick change of work plans meant that I made a quick trip to Emily’s Wood, where a flock of Siskins and a single Treecreeper brought me to 69. And now the magical 70 would be easy, with a Collared Dove somewhere on a roof on the houses along Ringwood Road. Half an hour later it became clear that these doves were enjoying an awayday somewhere else. In some desperation I decided to return to the lakeshore to check out the roofs from there. But on the way, at the end of the short private road, a small flock of Passerines contained a fabulous Firecrest. This 70th species of the day was also my very first for Longham Lakes – what a way to reach the milestone.

Apart from Collared Dove, I also missed the following species that were probably present on-site: Nuthatch, Kestrel, Peregrine, Snipe, Great bb Gull, Med Gull, Tawny Owl, Stonechat and perhaps Yellow-browed Warbler. Longham may well have played host to 80 species today.

Matt Bell was also out and about and managed 65 species, which is also seriously good, especially since he doesn’t have access to the private sections of the site. He did see a Collared Dove!

In addition to all this, Trevor Thorpe saw an Otter loping along the fence-line in Hampreston Fields, heading for the stream.

26th October
The Lesser Scaup was still around for the whole day, settling on Longham Reservoir North in the afternoon.

Even after 15 years of watching, a local patch can still surprise you. This morning I got on site before sunrise and was astonished to discover a Starling roost in the bushes next to the south-western tip of Longham Reservoir South – the site’s very own murmuration. The birds, 500-1000 individuals, were making quite a din. The Starlings’ departure from a roost is always worth watching and today’s was no exception. The birds sang loudly while it was still dark, but every so often they suddenly went quiet (apparently these silences average three minutes apart). As it gets light, the singing birds get restless and, during these sudden silences, birds shuffle about and some depart. This morning, since it was a small roost, they actually all departed in one surge, individuals going off low in all directions. It was fabulous. If the roost builds up this autumn, it is going to be quite a treat.

Who knows what flew over while I was watching the Starlings? – several Lapland Buntings and Olive-backed Pipits no doubt. Or at least Hawfinches. But no, overhead passage was very light, with a few Meadow Pipits, Redwings, Song Thrushes, Siskins and Linnets. Elsewhere there was at least 1 Bearded Tit along the eastern side, 2 Black-tailed Godwits were on the floating weed and, at one point, a small flock of Passerines on the path south of the Study Centre contained 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Linnets, 3 Chaffinches and 2 Song Thrushes. There are loads of birds about (Dominic Couzens.)

25th October
The Lesser Scaup is still present and there are 3-4 Bearded Tits around in the reeds on the east side of South Lake. Early on there was a trickle of Skylarks overhead, plus 10 Chiffchaffs and, on the lakes, 574 Coots (Lorne Bissell, Martin Wood, Darran Jones, Roger Peart, Steve Smith, Terry Elborn).

Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit (male), Longham Lakes, Dorset 25.10.2017 (Lorne Bissell).

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup (male), Longham Lakes, 25/10/2017 (Roger Peart)

Tufted Duck and Lesser Scaup

Drake Tufted Duck and Lesser Scaup, Longham Lakes 23/10/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

24th October
Bless its heart, the Lesser Scaup remained on site today, much to the relief of your correspondent. By all accounts, it was again much visited, despite the often appalling, damp weather. Interestingly, it seems to dive incessantly, perhaps more often than the accompanying Tufteds. It is now at the south end of the large (South) lake. Also today 2 Dunlin flew over and there was a Swallow near Longham Bridge (Dominic Couzens.)

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup (male), Longham Lakes, Dorset 23/10/2017 (Lorne Bissell)

23rd October
Well, this is getting ridiculous. A combi-nation of a visiting Ian Lewis and Longham’s own George Green managed to find and identify a LESSER SCAUP on the North Lake today. After what has been a magical year and a fabulous autumn, this American vagrant is now Longham’s rarest bird. It soon attracted a stream of admirers, while this blog author was on a family break to Devon. Happily this species has a reputation for staying put. By the way, this brings the site total to 186. Ian Lewis also saw the season’s first Firecrest along Green Lane.

22nd October
George Green had a brief encounter with the Bearded Tits this morning. Meanwhile, Martin Wood connected with his first Yellow-browed Warbler in the afternoon, making it a red-letter day for him, although amazingly these birds are nowadays expected fare here – it was at least the 4th this autumn. It was in a flock of Long-tailed Tits in the south-west corner, near Samuel’s Wood.

20th October
Got another Longham tick this pm.  Not a bird, but my first Longham Otter.  It was just south of the island at the top of the South Lake.  Initially it flushed all the gulls and ducks on the floating weed, it then swam directly towards the west bank and disappeared into the marginal vegetation (George Green.) Meanwhile, early in the morning one Great White Egret flew over Longham heading east. There was also one 1 Mediterranean Gull (first of the Autumn) 3 Swallows and 50 Lapwings, plus a brief call from a Bearded Tit (Lorne Bissell.)

18th October
A dog walker saw a dog Otter in river by Hampreston fields today. There was one Redshank on the weed in the middle of south lake, plus 2 Swallows and a Common Gull (Lorne Bissell.)

17th October

Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit (female), Longham Lakes, 17/10/2017 (Lorne Bissell)

Yet more excitement today appeared in the form of Longham’s third record of Bearded Tit. Two birds were located in the reeds on the east side of the South Lake, and appeared fitfully until at least lunchtime (Matt, Lorne Bissell). It really has been an amazing year. During a pretty “birdy” morning, there was a reasonable selection of other stuff. Two Coal Tits were in the south-west corner near Samuel’s Wood in mid-morning; these are still rare here and it is the first time we have recorded two together. Other birds in that area included Bullfinches, at least 2 Siskins, 3 Redwings and a smattering of over-flying Skylarks. There were also good numbers of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Reed Buntings in this area of the site (Dominic Couzens).

16th October
It was always going to be a surreal day with ex-Hurricane Ophelia turning the skies dark and the sun red. And whether it was weird conditions or normal October milling around, yet another great bird turned up on-site today. Hot on the heels of his Common Scoter flock at the weekend, Lorne Bissell managed to unearth another seaduck early this morning, this time a male VELVET SCOTER – another first for the site, too. Unfortunately there was to be no repeat of last week’s twitch. The bird flew off by first light and wasn’t seen again. Apart from this the birding was actually rather meagre, although the first Redwings of the autumn, 12 of them, flew over.

12th October
Thought I would try for some visible migration today, especially after the high winds of the last few days. Although stuff was hardly streaming over, there were a few goodies: a party of 6 Skylarks over at 11.00am were, amazingly, the first of the year. There were also a couple of Siskins, at least 40 Linnets, 8 Reed Buntings and, flying hither and thither and not necessarily moving, were Goldfinches and a couple of Chaffinches. To complete a “finchey” hour there were also 3 Bullfinches in the south-west corner, alongside Samuel’s Wood, and the odd Greenfinch about. Of moderate interest was a Grey Wagtail, and the usual ducks. 40 species wasn’t bad for a single hour (Dominic Couzens.)

11th October
A Water Rail was heard this morning among the commoner birds (Dave and Pat Harris.)

8th October
A couple of Siskin flew over today, reportedly.

7th October
It was a great day for birding at Longham Lakes, with lots of excellent birds present. Pride of place goes to the group of 4 COMMON SCOTERS found in the early morning by Lorne Bissell, which had gathered a small band of admirers before 9.30am. This is a new species for the site, but it wasn’t the only highlight. George Green found the 6th Merlin for Longham, a male, and also

Common Scoter

Common Scoters, Longham Lakes, 07/10/2017 (Darran Jones)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

saw Peregrine, these two among a very impressive total of 53 species seen by him. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler in the western corner of the Causeway again, while on the weed was a Ringed Plover among the 62 Lapwings. While it is easy to overlook commoner birds, Trevor Thorpe’s WEBS count of 656 Coots massively beats all other previous totals; there were also 114 Gadwall. Other more routine fare included 25 Greylag Geese, a Great Black-backed Gull, a small passage movement of Swallows, Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Linnets. A Stoat seen by Trevor was also highly notable, the first for a number of years, while there is also visible Mole activity by the Study Centre.

Common Scoters

Common Scoters, Longham Lakes 07/10/2017 (Lorne Bissell)

 

 

 

 

 

 

6th October
There was a Yellow-browed Warbler along the Causeway today (Matt). 63 Lapwings out on the mat of weed, with a good number of Wigeon and Shoveler. Plenty of Chiffchaff moving about but the best two birds were Kingfisher on North Lake and a Sparrowhawk flying across Hampreston Fields towards Green Lane (Martin Wood.)

GBB Gull

Great Black-backed Gull, Longham Lakes 07/10/2017 (Roger Peart)

4th October
In the early morning 2 Green Sandpipers were chasing around North Island and there was 1 Snipe, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Swallow (Lorne Bissell). Later on the Cattle Egret returned and there were 64 Lapwings resting on the weed (George Green.) During a brief ringing session 1520-1700 there were just 10 new birds – 7 Chiffchaffs and 3 Goldcrests, the latter all 1st-year males (Roger Peart.)

3rd October
2 male Nathusius’s Pipistrelle bats were caught at Longham Bridge in the evening (Jan Freeborn.)

30th September
The Longham Lakes Open Day was a great event for all concerned – all the clubs associated with the Lakes, which are now run by the South-west Lakes Trust. Many thanks to all of you who attended, and thanks particular to George Green and Martin Wood for giving up their entire day to help. As it turned out, the birds themselves provided the chief objects of gratitude, not least a CATTLE EGRET which was only the third for the site (the second was last week) and provided decent, if distant views to most visitors. The eclectic supporting cast included lots of wildfowl, a Peregrine, showy Green Woodpeckers and a few Swallows.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret (on left of cattle), Longham Lakes, 30/09/2017 (Darran Jones).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26th September
Lots of variety around today, although no rarities. The most prominent highlight was an impressive increase in the number of wildfowl, with maximum counts of 59 Wigeon, 22 Shoveler and 10 Teal, along with many Gadwall, making it feel like winter. Another highlight was the presence of no less than 5 Ruffs flying around the site this morning, a record count for here, and in company with 18 Lapwings. Visible migration amounted to little, with a small number of Meadow Pipits, Swallows and House Martins; a flock of 40 or so Goldfinches was also about. Other oddments included a Stonechat, a Goldcrest, a Peregrine, a Snipe and the two first-year Moorhens (Dominic Couzens, Martin Wood).

25th September
Remarkably, YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER is now annual at Longham and the “first” definite record of the season was seen and heard today in the south-east corner of South Lake behind the bungalows, in the scrub. There were also 2 Ruff on the weed, but no sign of any Cattle Egrets (Lorne Bissell).

24th September
A pair of CATTLE EGRETS visited the weed briefly this morning (KD Johnson.) This is only the second record for the site (although others look likely this winter).

20th September
A busy day on-site. Firstly, Roger Peart had a short afternoon ringing session and caught new birds in the form of 26 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and 1 Goldcrest. There were als0 two re-trap Long-tailed Tits, one ringed in July this year the other in June 2015.

Meanwhile, Martin Wood found 2 Stonechats on Hampreston Fields, 1 Common Sandpiper still on the island; Ruff out on the mat of weed with the Lapwings . 1 Wheatear was a bonus, and still some Swallows, House Martin, 2 Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler. George Green counted the wildfowl and scored Gadwall  at 100+, Wigeon 19 and Shoveler 16, all good counts for the time of year.

19th September
Had another evenings walk round South Lake. The Ruff were still out on the mat of weed with the Lapwings,  and 1 Common Sandpiper was on the island. A number of Chiffchaffs moved along the willows, while a large group of Swallows came in from the north. Besides the Gadwall and a few Shoveler, it was Coot city (Martin Wood).

17th September
Dropped in to Longham this evening: still lots of House Martin and some Swallows over the lake.  Scanned the mat of weed the normal number of 21 Lapwing and with a juvenile/female type Ruff. It was nice to watch C80 what I believe were Greylag Geese fly in from the North and over the two lakes going South (Martin Wood).

Little Stint

Little Stint (juvenille), Longham Lakes, 15/09/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

Swallows and Martins

Swallows and Martins, Longham Lakes 15/09/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

15th September
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.)

House Martin

House Martin (juvenile), Longham Lakes, 13/09/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

14th September
A very brief ringing spell in windy conditions produced 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Robin (Roger Peart.)

13th September
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.

Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope, Longham Lakes, 12/09/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

12th September
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.

9th September
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.

7th September
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).

6th September
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).

Great Tit
TX57681         Nestling    20/05/16            Canford Park, Wimborne,
Recaptured      06/09/17         Longham Lakes, Dorset (3 km SE, 1 year 109 days)

5th September
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).

4th September
Just two Garganey present.  Otherwise little of note, but still good numbers of Gadwall (72+) and Little Grebe (50+) (George Green).

2nd September
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.)

1st September
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).

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Twin Peaks

Here’s something a little different from your usual bird reports…

I have taken my son Samuel up Snowdon a couple of times so, with the spring half term approaching this year, we decided it was time to launch on assault on the other peaks that make up the well-known Three Peaks Challenge, namely Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, at 978m [3209 feet] the highest “mountain” in England; and Ben Nevis (1245m) [4411 feet], the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK. It would thus be a Twin Peaks Challenge. In contrast to the genuine Three Peaks, we would not be trying to do the whole thing in 24 hours, not with just me driving.

The very worst place to begin such a challenge is Poole, Dorset, where we live. As the old Irish farmer is supposed to have said when asked the way to Dublin: “Well, you wouldn’t want to start from here”. The nearest peak is about six hours drive away. Continue reading

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Summer 2017 at Longham Lakes

30th August
Four Garganey still present this evening showing well close to the west bank of the South Lake (George Green.)

Grey Heron

Grey Heron, Longham Lakes, 25/08/2017 (Martin Wood)

28th August
Perhaps not surprising re recent events in Poole Harbour, but an Osprey circled over the South Lake at Longham Lakes at 11am.  The 4 Garganey were still present, but more mobile than usual (George Green.) Plenty of Dragonflies on the wing, including Gold-ringed Dragonfly. 21 Lapwing on the mat of weed with a couple of Shoveler in South Lake, 1 Pochard and the highlight for me, seeing the 2 fledged Great Crested Grebe chicks (Martin Wood.)

25th August
Four Garganey (3 together + 1 separate bird) still present this evening showing reasonably well on the South Lake.  Large numbers of waterfowl on both lakes presumably attacted by the extensive mats of weed incl 410+ Coot, 43+ Gadwall, 40+ Little Grebe along with 6 Shoveler and singles of Teal & Pochard (George Green).

Juv Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit (juvenile), Longham Lakes 24/08/2017 (Ron Poulter).

24th August
Lots of birds around Longham Lakes today, almost 60 species in all. Most notable were probably the 4 Garganeys that remain on South Lake, as well as a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit on the floating weed. However, in Longham terms the top bird would have been the Coal Tit heard in Emily’s Wood this morning, a very rare bird here. On the nearby Stour, an Otter made an appearance, the second record of the year. There were several Swifts and excellent numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins. Other Passerine migrant numbers were pretty low. Wildfowl included 5 Shoveler and 33+ Gadwall. (George Green, Dominic Couzens, Ron Poulter).

23rd August
Drove past Longham lakes about 18:30 and surprised to see easily 20 Swifts above the King’s Arms (Terry Elborn). Earlier there were 2 parties of 15 and 20 Swifts, along with 100+ Sand Martins (John Lockwood).

21st August
Flock of 4 Garganey still present this morning sleeping amongst floating weed on the South Lake.  A few other minor things of interest – a distant Hobby, my first Shoveler of the autumn and 3+ ‘latish’ Swifts. Also of particular interest to Longham birders – after prolonged and seemingly repeated nest building on the North Lake, a pair of Great Crested Grebes have 2 young chicks (George Green). There was also a new brood of Tufted Ducks, 4 chicks in all and the Greenshank remains (Dominic Couzens.)

Ruff

Ruff (juvenile), Longham Lakes, 20/08/2017 (Ron Poulter)

20th August
The Greenshank was present again, this time with a juvenile Ruff (Ron Poulter).

19th August
Greenshank and 4 Garganey still there this afternoon, as well as 16 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler. It was odd seeing the Lapwings on in the middle of South Lake resting in a mat of weed: 16 today (Martin Wood).

17th August
Four Garganey and Greenshank still present mid afternoon (Ian Lewis, George Green.)

Garganeys (Ron Poulter)

Garganeys, Longham Lakes 20/08/2017 (Ron Poulter)

15th August
A flock of 4 Garganey still present in the middle of the South Lake.  Telescope required to get reasonable views!  Also a Spotted Flycatcher (George Green.)

14th August
Counts today included 23+ Mute Swan, 4 Cormorant, 4 Garganey, 2 Lapwings, 25 Goldfinches, 40 Starlings and 18 House Martins. There were also some Coot chicks, 2 Broad-bodied Chasers and an ovipositing Emperor dragonfly (Trevor Wilkinson).

11th August
3 Garganey together on the South Lake this morning.  Little else of note except for a single Peregrine which I don’t see that often at Longham. Small Red-eyed Damselflies were present yesterday afternoon on both the small pond at the SW corner of the site and the North Lake, plus one Gold-ringed Dragonfly (George Green.)

4th August
A couple of birds of minor interest early this afternoon – a flyover Dunlin and a Common Tern.  Also c106 Tufted Duck chicks (George Green.)

1st August
Just 12 new birds ringed – 3 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Greenfinch and one each of Reed Warbler, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Kingfisher (another juvenile), and the first Willow Warbler of the year. Just one re-trap, of one of this year’s Long-tailed Tits (Roger Peart.)

31st July
Ringing produced 23 new  birds – 9 Reed Warblers, 4 Wrens, 2 each Blackcap, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Kingfisher (both juveniles) and one each of Robin and Blackbird. Rather surprisingly no Chiffchaffs. There were two re-traps, a recent Robin and a Song Thrush (RS61960) which was first ringed 21st June 2012 as an adult female. This is certainly the oldest ST we have recorded at Longham and probably the oldest one I have ever had. As the present bird was first ringed as an adult it will be over 6 years old. At 5.10am there was a Hobby over the trees to the SW of the lakes flying round for a few minutes trying to catch early House Martins (Roger Peart.)

Little Grebes

Little Grebes, Longham Lakes, 30/07/2017 (Darran Jones).

30th July
It was an incredibly quiet time for the 40 minutes I was there, with a couple of Lapwing on the island and around 60 Tufted Ducks on the North Lake. The biggest surprise was 19 Little Grebes around the south island, he most I’ve ever seen at Longham (Darran Jones).

29th July
Had a walk round the lakes this morning before the rain. The highlights were 5 female Shoveler on North Lake, a Kestrel and 2 Common Sandpipers (Martin Wood).

22nd July
There were lots of Swifts, House Martins and a few Sand Martins about. The Common Terns (2) were still there this afternoon, plus 6-7 Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebe still sitting on nest in the south east corner of the smaller lake (Martin Wood.)

21st July
There was one adult and two juvenile Common Tern, all atop separate buoys in the model yacht corner of the large lake. Also two juvenile Kestrel being fed by their parents on the water meadows (Trevor Thorpe.)

Grass Snake

Grass Snake, Longham Lakes, 18/7/2017 (Kim Smith)

18th July
Had a wonderful morning at Longham in bright sunlight and was treated to a basking Grass Snake on the rocks of south lake and then a swimming Grass Snake which possibly was the same one as it was not much further along. We saw 3 Green Woodpeckers, a pair which flew down from Samuel’s Wood and pecked the grass for a long period, then saw a single green woodpecker in between the 2 lakes on the path. A pair of Kestrels

Tufted Ducklings

Tufted Ducklings, Longham Lakes, 18/07/2017 (Kim Smith)

hovering at the edge of South Lake. 3 Cormorants on the solar panels of South lake and enjoyed the many crèches of Tufted Ducks including having to wait whilst large numbers of ducklings and a few adults crossed the path in front of us transferring from South lake to North – was lovely to watch. In addition, 2 nest-building Great Crested Grebes.  As always it was a joy (Lesley Wilkes and Kim Smith).

17th July
Still at least 1 Lesser Emperor at Longham, one was flying around the east end of the causeway path before moving into the Horse Paddock, another was photographed along the southern shore of South Lake so presumably a different individual. Plenty of the rest of the normal dragons, although the one absentee was Red-veined Darter. My first 2 Clouded Yellows of the year. The adult and juvenile Common Tern were still on South Lake, quite comical watching the juvenile trying to land on the buoys , several times he just slid straight over it and ended up in the water. Also 1 Common Sandpiper on North lake and 3 on one of the fishing Jetty on South lake. The Great Crested Grebes don’t look to be having much joy, still building a nest around a single egg that spends most of the time submerged (Ian Ballam).

16th July
The Common Tern fledgling was still being fed by its parents. There was a Black-tailed Skimmer on the far side of the south lake by the end of the causeway and I saw a small flock of 4 Greenfinches feeding there. There were plenty of Reed Buntings

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk being mobbed, Longham Lakes, 16/07/2017 (Darran Jones)

and Reed Warblers around as well as around 60 Canada Geese on the lake. Returning to the car park I saw a Green Woodpeck-er on the causeway and Sparrow-hawk being mobbed by Swallows (Darran Jones.) In the late evening another mobbed Sparrowhawk, juvenile Song Thrush, 2 Green Woodpeckers, a Jay, a Whitethroat and a Kestrel seen. The two Common Terns were on South Lake, but left at about 7pm going over Emily’s Wood (in south-east corner) with a load of gulls going the same direction (Martin Wood).

15th July
Early this morning at the lakes the weather was too overcast, cool and damp for any Odonata to be on the wing, although I met a chap who had travelled down from Bristol to observe the Dragonflies and Damselflies. Occupied myself with counting the Tufted Duck families and noted groups of 3,1,2,2,7,7,3,1,17,17,9,11,20 and 29 ducklings [that’s 129 ducklings, back to form after a poor year last year], the latter group a combined crèche attended by three females. Also noted singles of Lapwing, Kestrel, Common Tern and Common Sandpiper (Trevor Thorpe). Sandwich Tern briefly fighting with a Common Tern over fishing rights to the south lake. Later adult Common Tern feeding juvenile on north lake (George Green.) In the late evening a session with the bat detector revealed a few passes by Noctule Bats, then large numbers of Soprano Pipistrelles with a few Common Pipistrelles (Dominic Couzens).

Common Tern adult and juvenile

Common Tern adult and juvenile, Lomgham Lakes, 14/7/17 (Lorne Bissell).

14th July
This morning an adult Common Tern was feeding its Juv. mostly on North lake (Lorne Bissell). Finally I managed today to tick off Common Tern at the lakes with an adult and juvenile bird on North Lake, bringing my total up to 97 species for the site. There looks to be a good build-up of Coots and lots of Tufted Duck ducklings. Butterflies and moths included Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Six-spot Burnets (Martin Wood.) A late evening walk was fun this evening, giving close views of Roe Deer and Red Fox. At around 9.30 an adult and young Tawny Owl were calling from Samuel’s Wood. A Hobby was feeding over the North Lake well after 10pm and it seems that there is a roost of young Starlings (at least 100) in the bushes on the west side, at the end of the Causeway (Dominic Couzens).

13th July
We had the usual small birds and wildfowl apart from a Sandwich Tern out on one of the small buoys (Dave and Pat Harris).

12th July
Lesser Emperor and at least 2 Red-veined Darters still present.  The darters were showing well and landing on the gravel path along the north side of the north lake.  Also a Grass Snake on platform beside south lake (George Green.) 1 Sandwich Tern from 9:45 am (on north lake) for maybe an hour, 2 Grey Wagtails and several Common Sandpipers calling. The female Great Crested Grebe keeps trying to construct a new platform by the original failed nest in the south-east corner of North Lake, but the male’s not keen and wants to use the new nest about 2 meters north. This morning they were demolishing this third nest to add to the one favoured by the male (Lorne Bissell).

11th July
Unfortunately the Great Crested Grebe nest in the south-east corner of North Lake has failed. The birds are building in two other places nearby although they visit the original nest (Lorne Bissell).

10th July
There was no sign of the male Scarlet Darter today.

Scarlet Darter, Longham Lakes, 8/7/17 (Martin Wood).

Scarlet Darter, Longham Lakes, 8/7/17 (Martin Wood).

9th July
12:30hrs: Male SCARLET DARTER showing well along edge of small pool at far end of South Lake (James Phillips). This is a dragonfly MEGA!

Please could you be aware that there is a pair of nesting Great Crested Grebes near the fishing platform in the south-east corner of the North Lake. They have one egg. This is the first breeding record here for a while, and it is technically illegal to disturb them. 

What is going on with this place. Today James Phillips concentrated on insects and recorded an incredible SIXTEEN species of damselflies and dragonflies on-site. Has this total ever been matched on one day in a single location in Britain? – LL is only just over one square kilometre! There were three significant rarities.

In addition he also saw SIXTEEN species of butterflies!

The species concerned were: ODONATA:
1. Brown hawker
2. Emperor
3. Lesser emperor
4. Golden-ringed dragonfly
5. Scarce chaser
6. Black tailed skimmer
7. Common darter
8. Red-veined darter
9. Scarlet darter
10. Banded demoiselle
11. Common blue damselfly
12. Azure damselfly
13. Blue-tailed damselfly
14. Red-eyed damselfly
15. Small red-eyed damselfly
16. White-legged damselfly

BUTTERFLIES:
1. Red admiral
2. Peacock
3. Comma
4. Meadow brown
5. Gatekeeper
6. Ringlet
7. Marbled White
8. Common blue
9. Brown argus
10. Small copper
11. Small skipper
12. Essex skipper
13, Large skipper
14. Large white
15. Small white
16. Green-veined white

This brings the total site list of butterflies up to 23 species.

8th July
Managed three different male Lesser Emperor in the end! All were in the NE corner of the North Lake. 12 species of Odonata seen in all, with best of the rest being one male Red-veined Darter, many Small Red-eyed Damsels and a couple of White-legged Damsels too (James Phillips). Also a Hobby (Lorne Bissell), 8 Little Grebes and a Song Thrush collecting food (Martin Wood). Martin also took a photo today of what it turns out is a SCARLET DARTER dragonfly.

7th July
Had a nice evenings walk South Lake lots of small Tufted Ducklings with 17 with one female then two and three broods. A lot of Mallards about and it was very nice to see two smart looking Little Grebes. A Common Sandpiper was on the large island a part from that it was pretty quiet (Martin Wood).

6th July
Ringing was rather quieter than Tuesday. Just 19 new birds and 3 retraps (a Blackbird from 2015, juvenile Robin from May and a Great Tit from Tuesday!). The 19 new birds were: Wren 4, Reed Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 2, Blackcap 2, Robin 2, Great Tit 2, Greenfinch 2, and one each of Dunnock and juvenile Whitethroat. Also a dead Pygmy Shrew (Roger Peart.)

Lots of dragonfly action today, with at least one, probably two male Lesser Emperors, at least one Red-veined Darter and many Small Red-eyed Damselflies. One Lesser Emperor was on the North Lake (especially south-east corner), together with the Red-veined Darter, while another very probable individual was on the large pool beyond the south-west corner of the South Lake, the stronghold for Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Also present: Black-tailed Skimmer, [Common] Emperor, Brown Hawker, Red-eyed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle. Also Common Sandpiper, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern, a 1st-summer Mediterranean Gull, 120 Starlings  and 5 Song Thrushes around the car park and 9 Lapwings on the island. (Lorne Bissell, Dominic Couzens, George Green, Darran Jones). NB: If you are checking out dragonflies and damselflies, please take care not to disturb nesting birds.

Sandwich Tern, Longham Lakes, 5/7/2017 (Darran Jones)

Sandwich Tern, Longham Lakes, 5/7/2017 (Darran Jones)

5th July
Ringing this morning produced a good number of 44 new individual birds and 6 retraps. Retraps were 4 Long-tailed Tits, a Dunnock and a Great Tit. One LTT and the Dunnock were ringed in 2012, the Great Tit in 2014. The new ones included two new species for the Longham ringing list: a House Sparrow and a juvenile Starling! The other new birds were Long-tailed Tit 10, Chiffchaff 8, Robin 5, Reed Warbler 5, Wren 4, Great Tit 3, Blackcap 2 and one each of Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Dunnock (Roger Peart.)

A fair number of baby Tufted Ducks are about now, but I saw no Great Crested Grebe chicks. There were around 70 Starlings on the industrial part via the second side. A lone Kingfisher was fishing on the tiny island on the far side of south lake and a Sandwich Tern (a first for me) briefly stayed on one of the buoys before heading towards the River Stour (Darran Jones.) The Sandwich Tern was present fishing on South Lake for much of the evening.  A count of the 1st hatchings of Tufted Duck was 5 broods of 9,7,3,1 and 1 chicks.  Finally a flock of 150+ Starlings is by far the largest lock I’ve seen at Longham Lakes (George Green.)

4th July
A visit this pm produced another brief sighting of a nice bright red male Red-veined Darter over the pool in the SW corner of the site.  Also Small-red-eyed Damselflies are much in evidence on the same pool (George Green).

1st July
Among the dragonflies were a few Black tailed Skimmers ; also Cinnabar caterpillars and a Redshank on the large island (Martin Wood).

Gold-ringed Dragonfly, Longham Lakes, 24/06/17 (Lorne Bissell)

Gold-ringed Dragonfly, Longham Lakes, 24/06/17 (Lorne Bissell)

30th June
9 species of Damsels and Dragons in total including male Red-veined Darter on path on east side of South Lake, first Small Red-eyed Damselfly of the season on the pond in the SW corner of the site, first Brown Hawker of the season and Scarce Chaser. Also first Common Sandpiper of the autumn (George Green).

23rd June
Neither rare dragonfly was seen today in the wind, but a White-legged Damselfly was about (George Green)

21st June
It’s still all systems go on the dragonfly front. In the early afternoon there were no less than 7 dragon-twitchers, a record for here. There seemed to be multiple Red-veined Darters at the eastern end of the Causeway, and at least one male Lesser Emperor there at 3pm. A Lesser Emperor is holding territory near the pumping station along the east side of the south reservoir (Ian Julian). Also a Gold-ringed Dragonfly, Scarce Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Red-eyed, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.

20th June
In the south-east corner of the North Lake I noticed an Emperor-type dragonfly patrolling over the reeds. I was able to confirm it was a Lesser Emperor as it flew past me patrolling up and down along the path no more than 6ft away. It then proved difficult to follow, but I later found it or another patrolling between the jetty & the slipway in the NE corner of the south lake, & a definite 2nd shortly afterwards on the north side of the causeway, about halfway along. Returning to the SE corner of the N lake, I found one perched about 5ft away from me and whilst watching this one, another flew past chasing a large dragonfly, which looked as though it could well have been a 3rd Lesser Emperor. I also had 2 male Red-veined Darters patrolling the SE edge of the North lake, but none settled, & several Scarce Chasers (Olly Frampton.)

Update: 1 Lesser Emperor and 1 Emperor still at Longham just before 2000. Lesser appeared occasionally in SE corner of N lake as reported by others, always going anti-clockwise – the speed it was moving and time between appearances made me think it might even have been doing a circuit of the entire lake! Well done Olly and thanks for putting news out, that’s the first Lesser Emperor I have seen (Peter Moore).

In the evening (10.30pm), there were large numbers of Daubenton’s Bats feeding over the River Stour close to Longham Bridge, with a Serotine (Dominic Couzens.)

19th June
I found 3 Red-veined Darters at Longham Lakes this morning.  The first and second involved a pair mating in brambles near the Study Centre and the third was a male I watched for some time along the south shore of the South Lake. Very quiet on the bird front (George Green.)

10th June
I escaped from the Wimborne Folk Festival this afternoon and went to the lakes, plenty of Swift with a few House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow hawking over the lakes and causeway. Apart from the usual, the best bird I got was a Hobby around the south east corner and over Emily’s Wood (Martin Wood).

5th June
Remarkably, the Bonaparte’s Gull was seen again this morning. It was thoroughly hassled by the Black-headed Gulls and eventually left the Lakes, headed for River Stour (Lorne Bissell).

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull (1st Summer) with Black-headed Gulls, Longham Lakes, 5/6/17 (Lorne Bissell).

1st June
A drake Garganey was reliably reported to me this morning.  Apparently it was at the south end of the South Lake skulking in the reeds.  Despite my best efforts I failed to relocate it (George Green).

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