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.
Compared with Black-headed Gull look out for the black bill and bubble-gum coloured legs of Bonaparte’s.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
There were lots of Swifts and all three Hirundines about, which attracted the first Hobby of the year (per Martin Wood).
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.)
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.
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)
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).
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].
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.)
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).
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.)
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).
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).
The seemingly ‘resident’ Great White Egret was still present on Hampreston Fields. Otherwise nothing to report (George Green.)
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.)
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.)