Author Archives: Dominic

Summer 2017 at Longham Lakes

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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Birding Walks in Dorset

Dartford Warbler, male

Dartford Warbler, male, Hampshire, UK (Dave Kjaer).

£8 per person per trip.


17th May – Radipole Lake, Weymouth
24th May – Ballard Down, Swanage
7th June – Dancing Ledge, Langton Matravers
14th June – Coombe Heath, near Wool
21st June – White Sheet, near Wimborne
28th June – Blashford Lakes, Ringwood
5th July – Fontmell Down, Blandford
12th July – Lodmoor, Weymouth

To book, e-mail me on

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Champions of the Flyway 2017 – the Media Birders’ race day


CotF Media Birders

The Media Birders 2017 team. Andy Swash (left), Dominic Couzens (middle), Tim Appleton (right).

This year I was fortunate enough to take part in the annual Champions of the Flyway international Bird Race in Israel. 34 teams from around the world assembled to compete in a 24-hour Bird Race on Tuesday 28th March, seeing who could see and hear the most species in a 24 hour period in a defined part of Southern Israel, beginning and ending in Eilat, on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

The following is a detailed account of our race day. It is written to thank our many sponsors and supporters for their help.

The reason behind Champions of the Flyway is to raise money to try to put a stop to the widespread illegal slaughter of migrant birds on the eastern Mediterranean flyway. Incredibly, more than 20 million birds are shot or trapped in various countries along the flyway every year. In 2017 the money raised will go to Birdlife International’s partner in Turkey, Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) so that they may focus on halting the illegal killing of birds on migration. For more  information see


04.20 – We meet in the lobby of the Agamim Hotel, the starting point for all teams. Birdrace Organisers Dan and Jonathan are there and tell us that most other people are already out – have we blown this already with a late start? Ten minutes earlier a Common Whitethroat had struck the lobby windows, but had recovered from the blow and was released. That delay has cost us; we missed it and didn’t see another all day.

Downtown Eilat (04.30-04.45)
We go into the night of southern Israel; downtown Eilat is our first destination, where there is a roost of White-eyed Gulls by a shopping mall. A House Crow calls and the House Sparrows are well awake, but we cannot see the gulls. Let’s hope this starts to go better…

Then a Striated Heron calls out of the darkness. That’s a good bird.

1- House Crow 2- House Sparrow 3- Striated Heron Continue reading

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Hot off the Press!

Three years in the making, my new field guide to Britain and Ireland’s mammals is finally out!

Britain's Mammals Cover

Fully comprehensive, there are stunning photographs of every mammal recently recorded in Britain, including all 26 bats and 30 cetaceans (whales/dolphins etc).
There are detailed notes on how to identify every species, together with up to date distribution maps and notes on behaviour. It’s a must for every naturalist!

328 pages, 500 colour photos.

Signed copies are available from me on request (postage payable), and other copies can be bought through Amazon, NHBS and, in a few weeks time, from bookshops.
Only £17.95

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Spring 2017

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler, Longham Lakes, 29/5/17 (Lorne Bissell)


















29th May
I didn’t wander far this morning but a visiting birder went round and didn’t mention anything out of the ordinary. Young Reed Warblers are being fed and Great Crested Grebes are displaying, plenty of Hirundines about and  a Grey Heron now sits in the Great White Egrets’ tree…(Lorne Bissell),

26th May
Went round the south lake this morning very quite again.  15 Reed Warbler singing,  1 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat and 5 Reed Bunting, 2 Chiffchaff also singing. 13 Greylag Geese settled on the water before flying off east. Carp spawning in South Lake along the edge of the causeway from the slipway up to the north west corner (Martin Wood.)


Coot, Longham Lakes, 25/05/2017 (Lorne Bissell)

25th May
A gorgeous day to be around the lakes, and the site was full of activity. One interesting observation was of a Bank Vole, the first seen at Longham this year. Unfortunately it was in the talons of a Kestrel, so close that I could see the colour of the vole’s back, even as it was carried off. There is obviously a pair of Kestrels breeding nearby. Other observations included a singing Treecreeper in Emily’s Wood, plus a pair of Stock Doves and a Great Spotted Woodpecker there. Roger Peart had a Raven over at 6am. In the general area was a flock of 15-20 Starlings, mostly juveniles flying noisily about.

A long-lived Great Tit - 5 years, 260 days and counting!

A long-lived Great Tit – 5 years, 260 days and counting!

Meanwhile, ringing this morning revealed Wren 1, Dunnock 2, Robin 2, Whitethroat 2, Great Tit 3, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 1. There was more interesting re-traps: one each of Blackbird (ringed Sep 2015 as juvenile), Robin (ringed July 2015 and retrapped 2 days ago!), Cetti’s Warbler (ringed Oct 2015 age unknown) and Great Tit (ringed Sep 2011 as a first year bird). I am sure this is the oldest Longham Great Tit known to date – 5 years, 260days and counting!

24th May
The male Garganey was still around today (Dave and Pat Harris).

23rd May
During a ringing session at Longham this morning were 19 new birds and 5 re-traps. New birds were, 2 Dunnock, 3 Robin, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 3 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Blue Tit and 2 Chaffinch.
The re-traps were interesting: a) Robin ringed July 2015 as a juvenile ; b) Dunnock ringed in May 2012 as adult female ; c) three Chiffchaffs – one ringed March this year, one ringed April 2016 as adult  and the other ringed September 2015 as a first year. Nice to have some oldies back again!
At about 6am there were 20+ Swifts high overhead (Roger Peart.)

21st May
Not much to report about very quiet round the lakes today with few Tufted Duck on north lake and a couple of Great Crested Grebe on south lake; also 19 Greylag Geese, these moved off to the Hampreston fields. 12 Reed Warbler singing between the causeway and round South Lake with 2 Whitethroats singing on near the north west corner and one near the south east corner of South Lake (Martin Wood).


Garganey, Longham Lakes, 18/05/17 (Martin Wood).

18th May
A fine pair of Garganey turned up on Longham Lakes this evening (Martin Wood). The Bonaparte’s Gull is still around (George Green). Otherwise quiet.

16th May
After failing to see it on my last 4 visits, despite thorough searching, I was surprised to find the Bonaparte’s Gull back at Longham Lakes this pm showing very well perched on the floating tyres close to the shore of the North Lake.  The black head is progressing nicely. Otherwise nothing to report (George Green).


15th May
A Red Kite flew over today, the first of the year (Rose Kempshall.)

Meanwhile, Darran Jones has created a Flickr album of his favourite Longham Lakes pictures. See here

Bar-tailed Godwit, Longham Lakes, 13/05/17 (Martin Wood)

Bar-tailed Godwit, Longham Lakes, 13/05/17 (Martin Wood)

13th May
Yet another great bird was at Longham today. Martin Wood found this Bar-tailed Godwit (presumably a female owing to the lack of orange colour) on the main island in the south lake today, and fortunately it stuck around. The only previous record was on May 1st 2007, see here
so it’s been ten years! Among the other birds reported were Cuckoo, PeregrineHobby and at least 80 Swifts (Robin Trundle, Trevor Thorpe, Bob Moore.)

11th May
Longham has never been quiet for long this spring, and today’s new treat was a pair of Garganey that showed on the south end of the Big Lake during the morning (Darren Hughes). Still present at 9.30am but then flew east towards River Stour and disappeared from sight. Common Tern and Common Sandpiper also present (George Green). Later in the day, the Bonaparte’s Gull was reported (Dorset Bird Club).

8th May
The Bonaparte’s Gull was seen again today.

7th May
3 beautiful Black Terns appeared at Longham this morning and remained on-site during the whole day, delighting many of the locals and continuing the astonishing run of good records here. They provided an excellent supporting cast to the Bonaparte’s Gull, which has now been here for 12 days. Other good birds included a singing Cuckoo.

Black tern

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

Black Terns

Black Terns, Longham Lakes 7/5/2017 (Darran Jones)

6th May
This morning I had my 2nd site record of a Marsh Harrier.  A female type bird which arrived from the south, circled over the South Lake and then headed east (George Green). The Bonaparte’s Gull was there between 2:00 and 4:00. Also 3 Pochard, 3 Hobby and a Garden Warbler (David Taylor) [first of the year]. There was also a Cuckoo calling in the afternoon (Darran Jones).

 5th May
Another new bird for the year appeared today, when a Little Ringed Plover briefly flew over the South Lake and then left east towards Christchurch (Matthew Bell). This afternoon there were lots of Swifts hawking over the Causeway. whizzing past at eye level and close at times. Then high up, I heard them screaming, as they do, so I looked up expecting a Hobby,  but there were at least 200 birds, and the best way I can explain it was they formed a large dark mass like when you see a large herring ball  on the documentary programmes.  All the birds were travelling in a westward direction. On the south side of the island two Shelduck were asleep, but the best bird of the afternoon was a wonderful Osprey that came in from the southeast over south lake. It was harassed by the gulls so turned drifted over Samuels Wood and looked like it was following the river going south southeast (Martin Wood.)

4th May
This morning at Longham Lakes, 14 singing Reed Warblers, 5 singing Cetti’s Warblers, c40 Swift, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Cuckoo calling (Trevor Thorpe.) The Bonaparte’s Gull was showing very well on the North Lake this evening c7pm.  For the last 2 possibly 3 days it seems to have been absent during the day but present in the evening. Presumably it wandered to Hengistbury yesterday.  It will be interesting if this pattern is repeated in future days.  It is moulting rapidly and it will not be long before it has a black head (George Green.)

3rd May
The Bonaparte’s Gull was absent for most of the day but reappeared in the evening (Nick Whitehouse.)

2nd May
The Bonaparte’s Gull showed well again (Caroline Herbert.)

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull, Longham Lakes, 1/5/2017 (Darran Jones)

1st May
Longham was absolutely swarming with Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings. I must have counted at least 17 Reed Warblers and easily saw over 20 Buntings as I walked the lakes for a couple of hours. I heard my first Cuckoo of the year. Caught my first Pheasant in the back fields and also saw my first Shelduck on site since I’ve been going to Longham. The Bonaparte’s Gull was showing exceptionally well, but there was no sign of the Black Terns that had been reported the previous day. I counted 8 Cetti’s Warblers as well [that’s a record!], although I’ve seen no Little Grebes whatsoever (Darran Jones.) Also 20 Swifts (Steve F Smith).

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull, Longham Lakes 29/4/17 (Roger Peart)

30th April

Two Black Terns moved through during the day (Birdguides). Otherwise the 1st-Summer Bonaparte’s Gull is still around, along with an excellent general variety. Cuckoo was heard again (George Green).

29th April
There was a SERIN around the Study centre in the morning, heard just a few times and not seen (Darren Hughes). This is the third new species for Longham in less than a week! Bearing in mind that the Bonaparte’s Gull continues to delight visitors and you could say that this site is in dreamland. It was also a day for more usual fare, with the first Cuckoos of the year appearing, first a male singing early morning (Dominic Couzens) and then a brown female flying over the lake (Lorne Bissell).

Obviously, many birds are settling into breeding territories. To this end, it was interesting to see a pair of Shelduck on the south side of the site, near the settling pools south of the River Stour – could they breed in a tree hole nearby? At the same place there was a pair of Mistle Thrushes with well-grown young, fledged and almost independent. This is the first confirmed breeding record for the site. There was an Egyptian Goose on the main island in the South Lake in the evening, and 3 Common Sandpipers around.

28th April
Another amazing day at Longham Lakes! The Red-rumped Swallow was not seen today, but instead the first Osprey of the year appeared a couple of times mid-morning (Trevor Thorpe). Meanwhile, there was some serious Bonaparte’s Gull worship going on, as the photos here show.

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull (1st-summer), Longham Lakes 28/4/217 (Darran Jones)

Compared with Black-headed Gull look out for the black bill and bubble-gum coloured legs of Bonaparte’s.

Bonaparte's and Black-headed Gulls

Bonaparte’s and Black-headed Gulls together, Longham Lakes, 28/4/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

Note that Bonaparte’s Gull (right, closer) is slightly smaller and more delicate than Black-headed, and also slightly darker grey on the mantle (although this is very subtle on this bird). The 1st-summer Black-headed can be seen to have an orange bill.

Bonaparte's Gulll

Bonaparte’s Gull, Longham Lakes 28/4/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

The above photo shows the distinctive underwing. In particular, the inside of the wingtip on the underwing is entirely pale, where in Black-headed Gull there is a dark band just behind the wing-tip. Incidentally, the very boldly marked black V on the upperwing is quite distinct from the bird at nearby Blashford Lakes.

In other news, there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker on site, which you can see next to the big white bird that’s been here for ages!

Great Egret

Great Egret, Longham Lakes 28/4/2017 (Lorne Bissell).

27th April
Unless your local patch is Spurn Head or Minsmere, you aren’t meant to get days like Longham produced today. For one glorious hour this evening, the first-summer Bonaparte’s Gull was swimming on Longham Reservoir North, while a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW, new for the site, was hawking insects over the Causeway. One bird, the swallow, is an overshoot from southern Europe, and the gull is a native of North America. These birds were on a small wetland in Dorset. Birding does this sometimes. The long-staying Great Egret was also around this morning – three rare birds at once!

Red-rumped Swallow

Poor record shot of Red-rumped Swallow, Longham Lakes, 27/4/2017

For most of the day, my main excitement was actually in the morning when, on a walk along the Stour on the South Side (unfortunately out of bounds to the public) I heard a Grasshopper Warbler singing, only the second record for Longham. In the same place Cetti’s, Reed and Sedge Warblers were also singing in a glorious patch of reedy, overgrown marsh. With Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff in earshot, this was a major delight in itself. There were also 2 Bullfinches and a Treecreeper in Emily’s Wood, while a pair of Mistle Thrushes, quite scarce here, were feeding next to Ringwood Road south of Longham Bridge, inside the South-west Water holding. What with seeing a male Blackcap displaying to its mate (ruffling its feathers and chasing), and listening to such delights as the gentle cooing of a Stock Dove as a Hobby dashes past, this is great spring birding in its own right. There were also 2 Shelduck on the island and Mediterranean Gull flying over.

Then came a tweet about the Red-rumped Swallow (thanks, Martin) and the evening was madness. Here’s to patch birding!

26th April
This lunchtime and afternoon there is a 1st-summer BONAPARTE’S GULL on Longham Lakes, commuting between the North Lake and the NW part of the South Lake, found by George Green. It might be the bird from Blashford. It’s a first for the site.
If you’re visiting, please don’t use the Study Centre car park unless you have a Longham Birders permit.

1st Summer Bonaparte's Gu;;

Bonaparte’s Gull, Longham Lakes, 26/4/17 (Lorne Bissell)

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull (1st-summer), Longham Lakes, 26/4/2017 (Dominic Couzens)

There were lots of Swifts and all three Hirundines about, which attracted the first Hobby of the year (per Martin Wood).

25th April
This morning was cold but glorious. I saw a Grey Heron in between the 2 lakes and after quite some time it flew to a central perch in North lake. Saw 2 pairs of Mallards on North lake with clutches ducklings one had 4 and the other pair had 7. Saw a Pied Wagtail near North lake, a male Greenfinch and a Goldfinch in the Thicket. The whole time I was treated to aerial displays from many Swifts (Lesley Wilkes.)

23rd April
Last night’s flurry of migrants has disappeared but a Dunlin has appeared on the island in Longham Reservoir South (Martin Wood). A Whimbrel flew over.


Whinchat, Longham Lakes 22/4/2017 (Martin Wood)

22nd April
By Longham standards, especially by its spring standards, today turned out to be good for migrants. In the morning, a Wheatear flew alongside the south lake, close to where the site’s first Sedge Warbler of the spring was singing. Meanwhile, Swifts were moving in quantity, with good numbers of Swallows and one each of House Martin and Sand Martin. Then, at lunchtime, Martin Wood found a glorious male Whinchat on Hampreston Fields – this is a rare spring migrant here. In the evening, a Wheatear was around the east end of the Causeway, near the Study Centre, while another was in the Horse Paddocks along Green Lane, close to the main road. There was also a flock of Pied Wagtails here, about 20 in all, together with a glorious male Yellow Wagtail, these days another quite scarce migrant. All this time at least 2, perhaps more Common Sandpipers were around the site. Other interesting birds included 3 Shovelers, 2 Shelduck and 3 Egyptian Geese, while there are still plenty of Gadwalls around. Some of the Mallards have broods of ducklings. A Linnet was by the south pumping station and a Goldcrest was singing along Green Lane (Dominic Couzens, George Green, Martin Wood).

On a personal note, I saw or heard 62 species on site today, close to the day-record of 67. I missed Blue Tit, too (Dominic Couzens)

20th April
There were 2 Egyptian Geese on Hampreston Fields this lunchtime, while Mallards on-site are in mass-production mode, with broods of 8 and 9 ducklings about. Other counts included 8 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Migrants are still only trickling in, although at least 3 Reed Warblers are in and singing, while 10 Swallows and some Swifts passed by. At least 7 male Reed Buntings are about (Trevor Wilkinson).

16th April
Whitethroat, Blackcap, 3 Redshank and 1 Common Sandpiper.  Last two on North side of large lake. Also my first Orange Tip and a Muntjac Deer in the copse by the river (Ron Poulter). [The Muntjac is the first site record for more than 10 years, although there have been tracks].

15th April
A very quick look in the afternoon today revealed nothing much on the lake, but there were a pair of Linnets by the Pumping Station on the east side of the South Lake. Also 8 Gadwall, 3 Shelduck and a Lapwing, with Reed Warblers and a Whitethroat in(Dominic Couzens).

14th April
Had a wonderful morning at Longham Lakes today from 09.00 -11.40hrs. A Cetti’s Warbler was blasting out its short song just south of the Study Centre, while nearby I heard the wonderful song of a Willow Warbler. Stopping off at the slipway to look across to the large island I noticed the Common Sandpiper on the little jetty, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Lapwing and Tufted ducks on the east side of the island. I stopped and scanned up and down the oak trees at Samuel’s Wood with binoculars, as I have done on every visit for the past four years with the hope of seeing a Treecreeper or – the holy grail of Samuel’s Wood – a Nuthatch. I was very surprised to find working a large limb of an Oak at the back of the wood a wonderful Nuthatch!

Eventually I arrived at the small ponds at the south end of the lake were I found the Great White Egret working the edge of the reeds, before flying up in to the large Oak at the back of the ponds. Working along the reeds I was surprised to find a fresh water terrapin out up on the bank warming up in the sun (Martin Wood).

In the afternoon, there were Swallows, House Martins and 2 Swifts. The latter are the earliest ever recorded here, by 1 day! (Dominic Couzens).

13th April
A light scattering of migrants, including Sand Martin, Swallow, Reed Warbler and Common Sandpiper. One Great Egret remained [this was the last record of the long-stayers]. (Dave and Pat Harris).

12th April
Had a quick hours walk round the North lake. Couple of Swallows, 8 Sand Martin , also the Common Sandpiper on the large island in South Lake. Also 3 Cetti’s Warblers calling/ singing (Martin Wood).

11th April
Great White Egret still present roosting in tree just south of southern shore of South Lake.  Also a Common Sandpiper on the shore of the North Lake (George Green.)

9th April
It was a lovely morning though walking down Green Lane, with Blackcap singing, Collared Doves cooing and Goldfinches sinhing. Out on North Lake the usual fare of Tufted Duck, Coots and Great Crested Grebes with 2 Mediterranean Gulls over and a Swallow. At least 5 calling Cetti’s Warblers round the lake. On the large island in south lake there was one Black-tailed Godwit and one Shelduck (Martin Wood).

8th April
Had a really great walk around the lakes this morning. What a fabulous day. The Great White Egret still there. Plenty of Cetti’s Warblers, Wrens, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, all singing their hearts out and a good representation of Mediterranean Gulls (Robin Trundle.)

7th April
A Swallow over the south lake. A few Gadwall are still about. Looking forward to a flood of migrants when the weather turns (Dominic Couzens). Also 1 male Blackcap, but also a (fairly quietly) singing Reed Warbler on the northern lakeside. 2 Great Egrets flew over the causeway from the fields by the river (Carl Wilcox).

5th April
A 20-minute look on the north of the site produced a bonus in the form of 2 Linnets feeding in the big field (with huge oak tree) to the north of the Study Centre. These finches are not common here (Dominic Couzens).

4th April
The seemingly ‘resident’ Great White Egret was still present on Hampreston Fields.  Otherwise nothing to report (George Green.)

2nd April
Went to Longham again today. Chiffchaffs and Chaffinches were singing away as we walked down Green Lane, while out on North Lake it looked like most of the Tufted Ducks were on the water with a few Mediterranean Gulls and Great Crested Grebes. A Cetti’s Warbler was calling on the western side of the lake, while scanning over the fields I found the Great White Egret down on the river and 2 Shelduck in the pool in the shire horse field. As we returned we found a Great Spotted Woodpecker, but still no sign of those darn Bullfinches (Martin Wood.)

1st April
The site was pretty quiet early morning, with no obvious overhead migration except for a Meadow Pipit. However, it is clear that plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are in, and a few Willow Warblers are passing through. Apart from that, a few wildfowl are hanging on (8 Shovelers today) and 2 Shelducks were on the island in the South Lake, a new species for the year. There were also 6 Snipe on the island, quite a good total.

The appearance of Mediterranean Gulls in large numbers at Longham is a strange and very seasonal phenomenon (mid-March to early April). It is also a daily ritual. Very few birds were on the lakes at 7.00am, but almost on 8.00am sharp, flocks began to appear from the south-west and gather in a large, noisy group (Dominic Couzens.)

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February and March 2017 at Longham Lakes

30th March
A ringing session this morning produced 3 new birds (2 Blackcaps, 1 Great Tit) and a re-trap Reed Bunting. The latter was ringed in May 2011 so coming up to 6 years – and it was an adult female when ringed, so actually at least (almost) 7 years. The oldest known is almost 10 years so she needs to go on a bit longer yet!

Med Gulls

Mediterranean Gulls, Longham Lakes, 30/3/17 (Roger Peart)

As few birds were being caught I had a look at the south lake where by 0830 there was an increase in noise from Mediterranean Gulls on the water. A very large flock had arrived (there were a few earlier on) and I estimate at least 200 birds including some Black-headed Gulls and possibly a few of other spp. So I reckon there were about 150 Med Gulls. The single Great White Egret was still present, and a pair of Shoveler. At about 10am just before I left there were at least 10 Sand Martins darting around – difficult to count exactly as they fly so quickly and one isn’t quite sure if they are the same or different (Roger Peart.)

28th March
I had the nets open this evening while putting them up and caught 2 new birds (Wren and Chiffchaff) and five retraps (3 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Robin and 1 Chiffchaff). The Chiff was ringed in Sep 2015 and I caught it again last summer so it is a ‘local’ bird! One LTT was ringed in Sep 2012, a nice old bird but only half the age of the oldest known from UK ringing (Roger Peart.)

25th March
Very pleasant this morning with singing Song Thrush, Chiffchaff and 4 Cetti’s Warblers, Dunnocks busy chasing each other and Wren blasting out its loud song. The 2 Great White Egrets were on the large island in South Lake, 4 Sand Martins over North Lake, two pairs of Great Crested Grebes performing their courtship dance, with lots of head shaking with their chestnut frills held wide open but not much else going on. A nice spring sighting of 12 Mallard ducklings by the slipway (Martin Wood.)

19th March
No sign of any Sand Martins today, but I did hear and see a Cetti’s Warbler dashing for cover and found the long staying Great White Egret. I counted around 8 Reed Buntings, the most I’ve seen at Longham, as well as around 60 Mediterranean Gulls on the south lake. There were around 37 Mute Swans in the back fields, three Redwings (no Fieldfares alas) and a small group of Teal were on the small pond past the woods with five Little Egrets. The most notable bird for me was a female Bullfinch which I found in the far corner of north lake by the stile (Darran Jones.)

18th March
Had a very good morning at the lake. The long staying Great White Egret was on the large island in south lake with two Little Egrets. The wintering duck have departed as no sign of any Pochard or Wigeon only 3 Shoveler and 6 Teal and 6 Gadwall. Also singing Chiffchaffs, calling Cetti’s Warblers, c20 Sand Martin and a wonderful sight and sound of 103 Mediterranean Gulls settled on South Lake. It looks like the farmer of Hampreston fields has been busy cleaning out the ditch and cutting some willow down along the ditch and on the river (Martin Wood.) Also 1 Raven in the afternoon, and several Sand Martins still (Dominic Couzens).

No sign of the Sand Martins that Martin saw on the 18th, but I did hear and see a Cetti’s Warbler dashing for cover and found the long staying Grea -White Egret. I counted around 8 Reed Buntings, the most I’ve seen at Longham, as well as around 60 Mediterranean Gulls on the south lake. There were around 37 Mute Swans in the back fields, three Redwings (no Fieldfares alas) and a small group of Teal were on the small pond past the woods with five Little Egrets. The most notable bird for me was a female Bullfinch which I found in the far corner of north lake by the stile (Darran Jones).

17th March
Redshank on island in South Lake. Also a small influx of 10+ Sand Martins plus 72+ Mediterranean Gulls – my first high count of the spring (George Green.)

14th March
One Great White Egret still present perched in tree at south end of South Lake (George Green).

11th March
It was a nice walk round the lakes with birds singing and calling. Those Bullfinches are still eluding me; I looked all round the hedges of North lake. There were Reed Buntings, Goldfinches, Long tailed Tits and Cetti’s Warblers. Out of the thicket shot a male Sparrowhawk that flew low right over the top of me –  a wonderful sighting. Two Great White Egrets were on the Stour, while out on South Lake, 9 Pochard still remain but numbers going down; with them 16 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 2 Shoveler and 6 Gadwall, plus Mallards, Tufted Duck and Coot. Looking through the gulls I had 1 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Great Black-backed Gull and 11 Mediterranean Gulls mixed in with the Black-headed Gulls. Besides all of these there were the usual woodland species like Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker a Kestrel and a new bird for the Patch Work Challenge: a pair of Jays which brings the years patch list up to 70 species of bird and 4 mammals seen so far (Martin Wood.)

8th March
News of a local ringing recovery today:
Blackbird LA58296 N
3JF 07/07/14 AMT Longham Lakes East (5), Dorset
X 0F Dead 07/03/17 Bournemouth Airport, Dorset (5 km, E, 2 yrs 243 days)

4th March
At the lakes late afternoon 2 Great White Egrets on the River Stour. 20 Little Grebe, 36 Mediterranean Gull, a Kestrel plus a Sparrowhawk seen. Also 12 Pochard in the south west corner of south lake, in the flooded pools in Hampreston Fields: 14 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 10 Teal and a pair of Shoveler (Martin Wood).

2nd March
Today’s best bird wasn’t a bird. Actually, you couldn’t really describe it as a “best” sighting either, because it was an American Mink. It was only my second sighting of this sleek mammal here at Longham, so I couldn’t help but be pleased. On the other hand, Minks are bad news for many native animals. It cut across the path next to Emily’s Wood, paused while we looked at each other, and slunk away. There were also 4 Roe Deer on-site, in two sets of two.

Bird-wise today was quite average, excepting that one Great Egret remains. There were also plenty of wildfowl, including all the winter ducks such as Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler. Gulls included a second-winter Mediterranean Gull and three Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 adults and a first-winter. 2 Stonechats, a male and a female, were beside the reservoirs, and 40 Greylag Geese made as much noise as you would expect 40 geese to make. The many ringing calls around the site show that at least two pairs of Green Woodpeckers are holding territory. The level of song is increasing delightfully.

I had an interesting Pheasant encounter on the West Fields (not accessible to the public). I flushed one, then two more, one and another two Pheasants, making six in all, a record for Longham Lakes. One of these birds was a male, and all the rest females, so there is one happy bird out there all set for a lively breeding season (Dominic Couzens.)

1st March
I had literally 15 minutes to look over the lakes this afternoon, but it was well worth it. A male and a female Goosander were fast asleep out on Longham Reservoir South, unaware that they were my 72nd species for the year (Dominic Couzens).

26th February
At first the lakes looked devoid of any birds besides a few Coot and Tufted Duck in the very choppy water. But looking carefully on the causeway there were 3 Stonechat, a couple of Reed Buntings and 32 Pied Wagtails. On the river the Great White Egret was fishing and in the fields were 54 Canada Geese and 38 Greylags which took flight and landed on the south lake. I had my 1st patch record of a male Goosander, which I presume it took off while I was watching the geese fly in. Up at the top end of south lake mixed in with the Black-headed Gull were 5 Mediterranean Gulls, and while up at this end I watch 23 Shovelers fly in and land on the lake (Martin Wood).

24th February
Dropped in to the lakes on the way home from work this afternoon. The best finds were 2 Great White Egrets (possibly three), 26 Pied Wagtails in the horse paddocks by the visitor centre, a Cetti’s Warbler and a Mediterranean Gull. And no Bullfinches! (Martin Wood).

Great Egret

Great Egret, River Stour at Longham Lakes, 21/2/17 (Lorne Bissell).

21st February
A visit to the lakes produced 2 Med Gull, 2 Great White Egret and good numbers of all the common ducks (except no Wigeon). A pair of Bullfinches were seen in the hedge south of the visitor centre. A single Lapwing was also present with a pair of Stonechat on the island (Daniel Whitelegg).

20th February
A drake Goosander showed well on the South Lake this afternoon.  Much to my surprise this is my first sighting on the actual lakes since winter 2011/2012.  All subsequent records have been the from nearby River Stour. Oh yes!  A Great White Egret was still present on Hampreston Meadows.  Also first sign of Med Gull spring passage with 4 birds present (George Green).

18th February
How about a nice surprise when you are looking through the scope on a sunny day? I was scanning the fields from the west bank looking towards the River when one of the Great White Egrets flew up from the river and head up river. Then something caught my eye moving in the undergrowth,  can it be, no it is, I could hardly believe my eyes as the creature emerged from the undergrowth with a lovely sleek brown coat and ambled a long the bank. It was an Otter no less, but in my excitement and just overwhelmed to be watching it through my scope I forgot about grabbing a record shot. This was the first one I have seen from the Longham Patch. Also 15 Shoveler, 30 Teal, about 46 Pochard, 91 Tufted Ducks, 3 Buzzard over, 5 Med Gulls and, a new bird for the Patch Work Challenge this year, a Cetti’s Warbler. Two Great Crested Grebes were performing their courtship weed dance yesterday and today, the first time I have seen this happen. An absolutely  wonderful afternoon (Martin Wood.)

17th February
Out on the lake 12 Pochard, some Tuftys and a pair of Great Crested Grebes attempting, half heartily it seemed, a weed dance. Making my way up to the causeway, the Great White Egret flew from the island in South Lake and landed in one of the pools on Hampreston fields. I scanned the island from the west side of South Lake and had a nice surprise with a Water Rail showing well and feeding along the edge of the island until some people started flying there boat plane , which also flushed 11 Lapwings from one side of the island to the other. 20 Shoveler near the western shore made for a very enjoyable sight with the colour of the males and the drab females and the long bills. Song Thrushes, Dunnock and Robins singing made a very pleasant and relaxing walk round the lakes after work (Martin Wood.)

14th February
Valentine’s Day saw me getting up early for two things: flowers for the wife and a chance to spot the Fieldfares that had been spotted by Martin at Longham Lakes. I headed right over to the usual spot, spying one lone Great White Egret, around 21 Pochard and a small group of Tufted Ducks and Great Crested Grebes, but very little else. I found my new birds over the far side of South Lake but I really had to work for them. Martin had already seen some Mediterranean Gulls, so I scoured the large group of gulls that were floating around and causing a ruckus. I counted 127 Black-Headed Gulls, two of which were Mediterraneans, Success! (Darran Jones.)

11th February
A very cold walk round the lakes this afternoon produced newbirds for the Patch Work Challenge and Longham year list, with Fieldfare, Pheasant, Kingfisher and Goldcrest. Also 2 Great Egrets, 27 Greylag Geese, 44 Pochard and 3 Wigeon. Some other counts: Canada Goose – 4, Wigeon – 3, Gadwall,  Teal – 16, Shoveler – 15, Pochard – 44, Pheasant – 1 male, Little Egret – 1, Grey Heron – 1, Little Grebe – 16, Moorhen – 2, Common Gull – 1, Lesser Black backed Gull – 3, Collared Dove – 2, Kingfisher –1, Green Woodpecker – 1, Goldcrest – 2,  Blackbird – 3, Fieldfare – 20, Redwing – 30, Grey Wagtail – 1 (Martin Wood.)

Pochards, Longham Lakes, 2/2/17 (Roger Peart)

Pochards, Longham Lakes, 2/2/17 (Roger Peart)

4th February
At Longham Lakes, the water level was down on the large lake, exposing large areas of shore line of the island and sides. As I walked up to the slip way I could hear Wigeon calling, but was not expecting to see  a large raft of them – to my surprise there were 152, and another 4 out on the flooded meadows; also 6 Pintail. I also heard a Water Rail at the south east corner down by the river (Martin Wood.)

3rd February
I had a brief visit to Longham this morning before the rain arrived. The three Great White Egrets were still around – all of them initially spread out along the north bank of the north lake. At least a couple of hundred (I guess) Canada Geese on the flooded Hampreston fields, plus some Shovelers and at least 6 Pintail – presumably from the group that arrived a week or so ago. There may have been more than 6 but that is all I could pick out (Roger Peart.)

Totals: Canada Goose 150+ Some by large island but most on flooded fields to the west
Gadwall 4+ By large island on S lake
Pintail 6+ On flooded fields to the west
Shoveler 3+ On flooded fields to the west
Pochard 9+ Party on North lake
Cormorant 4+
Little Egret 2+
Grey Heron 1+ At least one
Great Crested Grebe 2+ on N lake
Buzzard 1 Low over trees to the north
Coot 20+

3 Great Egrets, Longham Lakes, 2/2/17 (Lorne Bissell)

3 Great Egrets, Longham Lakes, 2/2/17 (Lorne Bissell)

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New book – out in April

A narrative book, it combines some of my birding experiences with lots of science about how birds live and survive.SOLAW Jacket

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Book Now for Early Spring Field Trips

These are the trips I will be running this early spring. They are open to all and are chosen to showcase the best of the season. Please do book up early to get your place.

To make a booking, please e-mail For more information on each trip, click under its entry in Events.

10.30am-4.00pm unless stated otherwise. £15 per person per day. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Friday 3rd February– Pulborough Brooks RSPB, West Sussex
Wildfowl hotspot with plenty of extra interest

Thursday 9th February– The Burgh, West Sussex FULL
Famous for raptors and owls

Friday 3rd March – Hayling Island, Hampshire FULL
Big wader variety, lots of tame Brent Geese

Thursday 9th March– Thursley and Frensham Common, Surrey FULL
Heathland birds such as possible Dartford Warbler, even Great Grey Shrike

Thursday 14th March– Ebernoe Common, West Sussex FULL
Lots of bird song in this gorgeous, secluded woodland site

Tuesday 21st March – Lower Test Marshes, Hampshire
Lots of bird song, chance of Water Pipit, Green Sandpiper

Thursday 6th April– Pagham Herbour, West Sussex FULL
Should be great for early migrants and much more

Special trips for small groups only. £25 per person.
10.30am-4.00pm. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places very limited.

Friday 24th February- New Forest Finch Safari   1 place left
Potentially 10 species, including Crossbill and Hawfinch

Friday 31st March – Thatcham Reedbeds, Newbury, Berkshire FULL
Great range of birds and spring everywhere

Tuesday 11th April – Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes, Hampshire  1 place left
Expect 70-80 species in migrant hotspot

£8 per person per trip. Open to all. Please book. 10.00am-12.00pm.

25th January – Higher Hyde Heath, Wareham
1st February – Moors Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath
8th February – Holme Bridge, Wareham
22nd February – Arne RSPB reserve
1st March – Upton Country Park
8th March – Studland
15th March – Blandford (+ Otters, hopefully)
22nd March – Radipole Lake RSPB
5th April – Hengistbury Head

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January 2017 at Longham Lakes

29th January
Had a grey wet trip round the lakes this afternoon nothing new seen and only one Great White Egret about, and 46 Pochard spread about the two lakes. So that’s me done for January ending on 63 species seen for the month (Martin Wood.)

27th January
Usual waterfowl seen but only one Great Egret (Ian Lewis)

21st January
A good walk round watching and looking for new birds, recorded 44 species with 3 new birds for the Patch Work Challenge. The best bird was a Peregrine going west with some type of prey in its talons. Also a nice largish flock of c60 Lapwings flying west over the South Lake. And of course the 3 Great Egrets are still there two on North Lake and one on the large island.
The full list: Mute Swan, Greylag goose – 14, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler – 8, Pochard – 40, Tufted Duck, Little Egret – 6, Great White Egret – 3, Grey Heron – 2, Little Grebes, Great Crested Grebes, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot,Lapwing- c60, Snipe – 5, Black-headed Gulls, Common Gull – 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1 Great Black-backed Gull – 2, Woodpigeons, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker – 2, Peregrine, Magpies, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Blue Tit –3, Long-tailed Tit – 4, Wren – 4, Starlings, Blackbirds, Song Thrush – 4, Robins, Stonechat – 2, Dunnock, House Sparrows, Grey Wagtail and Chaffinches (Martin Wood.)

20th January
Usual birds around the lakes this morning, by now this includes the three Great Egrets. Also a Green Sandpiper on the north lake. Water levels in the south lake somewhat lower than usual (Alan Pearce).

14th January
A surprise today came in the form of a flock of 13 Pintail. These ducks average just one record a year at Longham Lakes and the highest previous count was 7. The lakes were stuffed with egrets, with the 3 Great Egrets and at least 8 Little Egrets. Also Sparrowhawk among 44 species recorded by Martin Wood.

10th January
Nothing particularly new around the lakes today, with Great Egrets still present and a reasonable range of ducks. A Chiffchaff appeared along the west side of the north reservoir, and there was a flock of Redwings and Fieldfares on the large field on the north-west corner of the site. I heard a Pheasant, too, my first of the year (Dominic Couzens).

6th January
The 3 Great Egrets are still there. Also a male Garganey on the south lake and the Kingfisher at Longham Bridge (Gail Taplin). Just 41 species in a very quick visit, but there was a healthy sized goose flock on Hampreston Fields, with 90 Canada Geese and 22 Greylags. Also 2 Goldcrests in the scrub on the west side of Longham Reservoir North (Dominic Couzens).

4th January
There were 3 Mistle Thrushes and a Redwing on the field opposite the King’s Arms pub today – not strictly on-site, but viewable from the Longham Lakes recording area (Dominic Couzens).

3rd January
I saw 56 species today, and George Green recorded at least one other (a Nuthatch calling) so once again there were a lot of birds to be seen at Longham Lakes. The Great Egrets are still the highlight, along with Little Egrets and Grey Herons fishing along the banks of Longham Reservoir North. There are lots of Pochard around, and a few Wigeon among the commoner ducks. Other species included 3+ Stonechats, Treecreeper, 1 Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Kingfisher, 5+ Snipe, 2 Reed Buntings and a Jay. My personal total for 2017 for Longham Lakes is now 65 species; also 2 mammals with several Rabbits today (Dominic Couzens).

1st January 2017
Determined to do more birding at Longham Lakes this year than last, I decided to spend the first few hours of the year birding here. It paid off handsomely, and I managed what is probably a record day total for mid-winter – 58 species. Highlights included the 3 Great Egrets, a good variety of ducks, 3 Cetti’s Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Common Snipe, 2 Little Egrets, a Water Rail heard, a Kingfisher on the River Stour, a Stonechat and a Bullfinch. For what it’s worth, there is a complete list at the end of this post. I met a birding couple and they pronounced what was present as “the usual trash”, which is a bit harsh!

Another highlight was chatting with a fisherman (Doug, from Ringwood Angling Club) near Longham Bridge. Apparently Atlantic Salmon regularly work their way up the Stour at Longham and may spawn not far away. He had also seen Sea Trout regularly, and Sea Lampreys and Eels also pass through in season. Graylings are common, Minnows are abundant near the Bridge and there are also Chub. Somebody apparently once caught a Pirana downstream, presumably released by somebody (no, really, it wasn’t a fisherman’s tall story, I don’t think). He also mentioned a lot of Otter activity and a Mink den – so keep your eyes open at Longham Bridge (Dominic Couzens).

Today’s bird list in order of seeing: Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Stock Dove, Kestrel, Stonechat, Robin, Cormorant, Dunnock, Grey Heron, Magpie, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Teal, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Moorhen, Water Rail, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Coot, Mallard, Lapwing, Wigeon, Great Black-backed Gull, Pochard, Rook, Common Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Shoveler, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Great Egret, Chiffchaff, Buzzard, Common Snipe, Bullfinch, Feral Pigeon, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Kingfisher, Little Egret.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel.

Martin Wood comments: Apart from the 3 Great Egrets, Great Spotted Woodpecker was the best, along with plenty of Gadwall, 31 Pochard, 6 Snipe.

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December 2016 at Longham Lakes

Great Egret and Water Rail, Longham Lakes, December 2016 (Lorne Bissell.

Great Egret and Water Rail, Longham Lakes, December 2016 (Lorne Bissell).

So another year comes to an end. It was far from a vintage year for Longham Lakes, with just 116 species recorded, well down on last year (130). However, there were 2 species making their first appearance, Nightjar (May) and Little Stint (November-December). Other goodies included 2 more Yellow-browed Warblers, and the remarkable appearance of no less than 3 Great Egrets together. Indeed, December was arguably the best month of the year, with the egrets, Stint, Jack Snipe and Water Rail all visible at the same time.

It was a pretty average breeding season, with a large fall in the number of young Tufted Ducks produced (fewer than 20, down by over 100). Not many migrants were recorded either, with Yellow Wagtail, Redstart and Whinchat missing completely. Two Marsh Harriers was good, a November Wheatear was intriguing and, for mammal enthusiasts, Longham Lakes is now confirmed as a regkar site for Nathusius’s Pipistrelle bats.

29th December
Had a trip round the South Lake today 11.25-14.30. I had hoped that a Bean Goose might have turned up, or a Bewick’s Swan – but no such luck, only Canada Geese and 13 Greylags. The 3 Great White Egrets showed well, also a Jack Snipe and an Egyptian Goose on the large island on south lake. A good trip round the site was had with 44 species recorded and one more for the Patch Work Challenge (and a site first for me) with two Ravens flying west. Also Snipe – 6; Cetti’s Warbler – 1; Reed Bunting – 1; Redwing – 2; Bullfinch – 1 (Martin Wood).

23rd December
Highlights included the 3 Great Egrets again today; also 1 Peregrine, 1 Little Egret, 12 Pochards, 6 Snipe, a Kestrel and a Stonechat (Lorne Bissell, Martin Wood).

Great (left) and Little Egrets in flight

Great (left) and Little Egrets in flight, Longham Lakes, 22/12/16 (Ian Julian)

22nd December
Egret Central at Longham yet again, also a Kestrel (Ian Julian).

17th December
I arrived at 12.50 to a cacophony of noise as 77 Canada Geese and 2 Greylags made for Hampreston Fields, a party of 19 Cormorants discussing their days fishing and the piglet like squeal of Water Rail rolling across north lake and another ear blast of one right by the north west corner of South Lake. Combined with all the wildfowl and passerines (but no Water Pipits) made the grey afternoon a pleasant walk round the lake. Highlights Shoveler – 11, Pochard – 18, Teal– 13, Great White Egret – 3, Stonechat, Grey Wagtail – 2; lots of Tuftys and Gadwall; Water Rail – 2.

There is something about patch watching and Longham which drives me on and on with the hope of finding new birds and one day to find something special. So again I have signed up to Patch Work Challenge 2017 for Longham (Martin Wood). [Well done, Martin. Good to hear.]

16th December
The 3 Great Egrets were still about on Longham Reservoir North, together with 2 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons, making it something of a heron-fest. Plenty of ducks around, mainly Gadwall and Shoveler, as well as a record total of 95 Canada Geese on the lakes and Hampreston Fields. Surprisingly, there were no other geese among them. Also a few extras such as 1 Stonechat and 1 Sparrowhawk (Dominic Couzens).

15th December
The 3 Great Egrets are still around and there was also a report of a Water Pipit (Dorset Bird Club website).

12th December
Had a couple of hours at Longham today in the mist and rain. Water levels have gone up so the gravel where the Jack Snipe were is now submerged. There were Snipe on the island but I was unable to see any Jacks. Nice variety of birds with 2 Green Woodpeckers feeding along the path up though the centre on the 2 lakes; also 2 Great White Egrets and a Grey Wagtail (Jessica Evans).

Great Egret and Little Egret

Great Egret and Little Egret, Longham Lakes, 10/12/16 (Martin Wood)

10th December
Went over to Longham Lakes this afternoon and had good views of the Little Stint, 3 Great White Egrets and a Jack Snipe and my 94th species for this site this year with the Redshank. Watching the Stint next to Pied Wagtail it did not look much bigger than this species; it is a very tiny bird. Other birds about today are as follows: Cormorant – 37 mostly on the pylons; Great Crested Grebe – 4; Little Grebe – 10; Pochard – 15; Teal; Wigeon; Shoveler – 7; Gadwall; Lapwing – 1; Common Gull – 3; Black-headed Gull – 60; Herring Gull – 52; Grey Wagtail – 1; Reed Bunting –1; Meadow Pipit – 4; Moorhen – 1 (Martin Wood). There were 2 Great Egrets

Jack Snipe

Jack Snipe (above left end of log), Longham Lakes, 10/12/16 Martin Wood)

on site at 9am (Gary White).

9th December
Following all visible on edge of island in southern lake this morning: 2 Great White Egret, 1 Little Stint, at least 3 Jack Snipe (Nick Woods).

7th December
Was on site from Midday until 1.30p,, all 3 Great White Egrets were on the North lake , 2 of them on the far shore and 1 less than 30ft away. Amazing views. Had at least 4 Jack Snipe on “George’s Shore” and the Little Stint was still on the main Island with a Redshank for company (Ian Ballam). Eventually saw 5 Jack Snipe (John Down).

5th December
I had a short session at Longham this morning. 17 new birds caught and one re-trap Dunnock from 2014. The new ones were 6 Chiffchaff ( my latest ever date – previous being Dec 4th in 2014), 4 Redwing, 3 Blackbird, two Wren, 2 Goldcrest (Roger Peart).

If anyone wishes to enjoy views of up to 4 Jack Snipes feeding (and sleeping) in the open, follow the east bank of the South Lake south from the causeway for about 20 metres until you reach an obvious red lifebelt stand.  Using your telescope view the south shore of the causeway in line with a distant pylon (at about 1o’clock).  Carefully scan the exposed gravel beach where there are about 6+ Common Snipes and 4+ Jack Snipes.  They favour the beach to the left of the distant pylon.  A Water Rail was also showing well along this beach. Other birds of interest today were 3 Great White Egrets which are becoming ridiculously tame, Little Stint, Redshank and Shelduck. Lots of birds present due to the low lake levels (George Green).

4th December
Arrived to see 17 Little Egrets and 2 Great White Egrets showing brilliant white against the island in the bright sun. The third GWE had relocated to the N lake shore. Unfortunately, the kayakers were also launching for their now regular Sunday paddle around the lake, putting a large number of birds into the air which seemed to relocate elsewhere on site (Alan Pearce).

I also called past Longham late morning until lunchtime. Great White Egret – 3, much disturbed by the kayakers, so were regularly up in the air or scattered around the lakes or Hampreston Fields; Little Stint – still on the island off the causeway; Jack Snipe – 4 along the causeway with 2 Common Snipe; Redshank – 1 commuting between the south lake slipway and the muddy edges of north lake; Kingfisher – 1 (Kevin Lane).

2nd December
It was an afternoon of threes with three Great White Egrets still. Followed this up with my first Jack Snipe then incredible there were 3 together followed up with a Water Rail then another and very good view of a Water Rail on the small island on south lake and heard one near the visitor centre – so possibly 4 on site. To round off the afternoon while watching the Little Stint, 3 Black-tailed Godwit flew and started washing on the edge of the island which made a total of 4 seen as flushed one on the west bank. Other birds seen: Little Egret –10; Collared Dove – 8; Shoveler – 12; Gadwall – 24; Teal – 25; Wigeon – 16; Pochard – 9; Kingfisher – 2; Snipe –3; Grey Wagtail – 2 (Martin Wood).

Little Stint

Little Stint, Longham Lakes, 01/12/2016 (Lorne Bissell)

1st December
The “peep” found on 29th November  was looked at for much of the day, and the consensus is that it is a Little Stint, the first for the site and a strange inland mid-winter record. The very small size and short bill are all good “peep” features (i.e. not Dunlin or Sanderling), while the rotund shape and short wings rule out White-rumped Sandpiper (George Green also managed to see that the rump wasn’t white). Others were able to confirm there were no palmations on the feet, so suggesting the bird is a Little Stint and not a Semipalmated Sandpiper. Apparently the bill structure, too far away for me to really get to grips with, is also good for Little Stint.

Other birds seen today included 3 Great White Egrets, Water Rail, Jack Snipe, 7 Common Snipe, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Stonechat, 1 Kingfisher, 3+ Little Grebes and a Common Sandpiper (Martin Wood, Roger Peart et al).


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