Spring 2017

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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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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September to November 2016

30th November
Much better views of the stint this morning along with several other observers.  The consensus view is that the bird is a Little Stint albeit in unfamiliar plumage (George Green).

Other good birds present included 3 Great Egrets and 8 Black-tailed Godwits (Dave and Pat Harris).

29th November
Popped in very briefly this afternoon to find THREE Great Egrets together on the main island on Longham Reservoir North. Surely this is the largest ever gathering in Dorset? Lorne Bissell was also there and had found a very small wader on the island – indeed, you could see Great and Little Egret and the wader through the same telescope view. Immediately it was obvious that the bird was of a stint type, since it clearly had a much shorter bill than a Dunlin or Sanderling. It was also barely larger than the Pied Wagtails walking nearby. But which species? The problem was, the island is quite a long way out and the light was against, and fading. However, the wings seemed too short for White-rumped (or Baird’s) Sandpiper, a former a species that appeared here around this time of year a few years ago. There was a noticeable white patch between the wing and the belly, and otherwise the underparts were clean white, with an obvious demarcation against the breast band. There were no obvious white V-lines across the back, so typical of Little Stint. The bird was portly (as Little Stint) but remarkably sluggish for that species. Semipalmated Sandpiper has to be a possibility. Hopefully it will be there tomorrow. Also a Water Rail called (Dominic Couzens). Also 1 Black-tailed Godwit this morning (Martin Wood).

28th November
Two Great White Egrets still on the island in the South Lake (George Green). Also 5 Little Egrets, 8 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 3 Greylag Geese, a family of Mute Swans with 6 juveniles, 12 Cormorants, 2 Meadow Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtails (Trevor Wilkinson).

25th November
Now 2 Great White Egrets at Longham Lakes still present 11.30 roosting on the big island in the South Lake.  Also 16 Black-tailed Godwits feeding on a small pool on Hampreston Meadows (George Green).

23rd November

Great White Egret was still on the large island in the South Lake at 14.50pm.  Also found an adult Yellow-legged Gull – only my 2nd site record (George Green).  Hampreston Fields flooded with little about apart from small number of Teal. Around the lakes, 1 male Stonechat and a Sparrowhawk (Alan Pearce).

15th November
A trip round the South lake this afternoon after work and finally I connected with a Bullfinch for the Patchwork Challenge. Out on the lakes were 3 Wigeon, c33 Gadwall, 1 Teal, 12 Mallard, 1 Shoveler, 1 Pochard, c100 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Egret,
14 Little Grebe and 10 Great Crested Grebe. Also Cetti’s Warbler, Stonechat and Grey Wagtail (Martin Wood).

14th November
Wheatear still present on the Causeway.  Best of the rest was the first time I’ve seen 4 species of raptor on one visit – Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine (George Green). Some numbers included: 4 Teal, 2 Greylag Geese, 6 Gadwall, 8 Little Grebes, 14 Cormorants, 2 Little Egrets, plus Kingfisher, Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Grey Wagtail and 4 Meadow Pipits (Trevor Wilkinson).

13th November
The Wheatear on the causeway again this morning (Trevor Thorpe).

11th November
The Wheatear was still present on the causeway this afternoon. Also a Marsh Harrier high over the large lake (Trevor Thorpe).

8th November
A Wheatear on the causeway was a bit of a surprise,e particularly as it was my first site record this autumn (George Green).

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese, Longham Lakes, 7/11/16 (Ron Poulter)

7th November
4 Egyptian Geese were present (Ron Poulter).

6th November
I was at Longham just after 10am and was encouraged by a Snipe flushed from the grass as I crossed the causeway and a Sparrowhawk overhead. However, things then went downhill as a party of around a dozen canoe paddlers turned up and five of them proceeded, under instruction I think, to paddle across and around about three-quarters of the south lake. So, disturbance with tuffties and other ducks in the air. I thought that these on the water activities we supposed to be confined to the NE corner of the south lake. Have the ground rules changed? (Alan Pearce). [No, not as far as I am aware].

Anybody else see the canoeists or other users disturbing wildlife? If so, try to take photographs and get details and pass these on to me. Dominic.

In the afternoon, 5 Mandarin (1 male, 3 females and 1 immature male), 2 male Pochard, 1 Lapwing and 2 Snipe (Martin Wood).


Cormorants on Longham Reservoir North, 6/11/16 (Darran Jones).

5th November
Late morning to early afternoon: 2 Egyptian Geese, 12 Great Crested Grebes, 70 Tufted Ducks, 10 Shoveler, 11 Gadwall, 28 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 1 Teal, 11 Little Grebe, 1 Jay, 1 Grey wagtail (Martin Wood).

31st October
Birds present included 12 Cormorants, 2 Little Egrets, 53 Canada Geese, a site record of 6 Egyptian Geese (flying overhead north-west), a Stonechat, 5 Meadow Pipits and 4 Cetti’s Warblers (Trevor Wilkinson).

29th October
Birds today: Cetti’s Warbler – 3; Tufted Duck – 56; Great Crested Grebe – 12; Little Grebe – 10; Snipe – 3; Chiffchaff – 2; Long tailed Tit – 10; Wigeon – 3; Gadwall c10; Little Egret – 2; Meadow Pipit – 4; Reed Bunting –1; Cormorant – 22 (Martin Wood).

28th October
Found a Black Redstart this morning which is my 2nd site tick this month.  It was feeding in the compound of Bournemouth Water which can be viewed from the east bank of the South Lake. It favoured the road and fence on the right side of the compound (George Green).

27th October
Among the more usual birds were 2 Ravens and 2 Egyptian Geese (Dave and Pat Harris).

25th October
I had a ringing session this morning but very few birds about and I only caught 10 new birds and 2 Robin re-traps between 0720 and 1100. The most interesting were 2 Meadow Pipits. The others were 3 Chiffchaffs, and one each of Goldcrest, Wren, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackbird. One Robin re-trap was ringed last month the other ringed in 2014 as an adult female but not seen since until today (Roger Peart).

23rd October
I went to Longham late afternoon yesterday and just caught 7 birds – 5 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackbird and 1 Great Tit (Roger Peart).

22nd October
Superb views of an Osprey circling over the South Lake for about 10 minutes around 2pm.  Eventually flew west hounded by local gulls (George Green).

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, 21/10/16 (Roger Peart)

21st October
Yet another Yellow-browed Warbler found its way into the nets today, the 6th for the site (and the first I have seen – Dominic). It was one of 21 birds (all new) made up otherwise from 9 Goldcrests, 8 Chiffchaffs and one each of Blackbird, Blackcap and Wren (Roger Peart).

Had a very pleasant walk: 16 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler, 42 Tufted Duck spread across the two lakes, a Little Egret, 12 Lapwing, a Grey Heron and 2 Snipe. Out on the water c86 Coot , 15 Little Grebe, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 64 Herring Gull, 42 Black-headed Gull. Also 1 Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Grey Wagtails (Martin Wood). There were also 8 Cormorants, 2 Cetti’s warblers and 7 Meadow Pipits (Trevor Wilkinson).

19th October
A short ringing session produced 18 birds, all new: 11 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Great Tits (Roger Peart).

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, 17/10/16 (Roger Peart

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, 17/10/16 (Roger Peart).

17th October
Another Yellow-browed Warbler this morning! I was a bit later going than intended as it was raining hard when I woke up, but I had the nets up by about 7.30am and caught in all 37 new birds and 3 re-traps. There was no more rain (and very light wind) until a light shower at about 10.40 when I was closing down anyway. I had 15 birds in one net at the very end, mostly Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests. The totals for the morning were Chiffchaff 10, Goldcrest 6 (+ 1 re-trap), Wren 5, Long-tailed Tit 4 (+ 2 re-traps), Great Tit 3, Cetti’s Warbler 2, Robin 2, and one each of Yellow-browed Warbler, Jay, Blackcap, Blue Tit and Blackbird. A nice variety (Roger Peart).

15th October
Great excitement yesterday when I located a Jack Snipe on the open gravel beach of the island at the north end of the South Lake (George Green).

10th October
Trevor Wilkinson had 2 possible Yellow-browed Warblers around the lakes today, together with 5 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Green Woodpeckers and a decent range of common water birds.

8th October
On the large Island there were 5 Little Egrets, 15 Lapwing, 3 Snipe and one Grey Heron, on the water round the island there were 15 Shoveler (the first of the autumn/winter? ) a 1st winter Common Gull, 6 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 14 Great Crested Grebes and 8 Little Grebes. 12 Swallows came over high, then later three hawking across the lake. Also had 4 Jays, a Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtails and 6 Meadow Pipits (Martin Wood).

3rd October
A Rock Pipit on the main island on Longham Reservoir South today (George Green). Also a very good candidate for Scaup, although a hybrid cannot entirely be ruled out (Ron Poulter).

23rd September
No new birds for the Patch Work Challenge list but was nice to see what was about. A nice Kingfisher on the large pool at the top end of South lake, plus a Snipe. 25 Lapwing were in the air when I arrived and flew east but 3 remained on the large island, with 54 Canada Geese hanging around. Also in the Settling Marsh area I had about 25 Chiffchaffs (with perhaps some Willow Warblers). Other counts: Mute Swan –10; Mallard – 3; Gadwall – 5; Great Crested Grebe – 18; Little Grebe – 22; Coot – c150; Tufted Duck – c70; Buzzard – 2; Swallow – 2;  Reed Bunting – 1; Grey Wagtail – 3 (Martin Wood).

21st September
Some useful counts today included 8 Mute Swans, 4 Great Crested Grebes (north lake only), 21 Coots (north lake only), 105+ Tufted Ducks (north lake), 16 Cormorants, 6 Little Grebes (south lake), a Lesser Black-backed Gull and 10 Lapwings (Trevor Wilkinson).

16th September
Early afternoon 11.50 – 14.15, birds included Kestrel – 1, Gadwall – 10, Wigeon – 8 the first of autumn, Teal – 2, Green Sandpiper – 1 flushed from the large pool at the top of South Lake, Coot – 146, Tufted Duck – 70, Great Crested Grebe – 14, Little Grebe – 22  and Lapwing – 4 (Martin Wood.)

15th September
Ringing results: new birds 28 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Bullfinch (juveniles), 1 Blue Tit. Also 2 re-traps – a Chiffchaff ringed on 13th August and a Reed Bunting (Y512436) ringed 27 Jun 2012 (adult male) and re-trapped again at least once  each year since – 8 handlings in all. It is (was) now 4yrs 80 days since ringing – my oldest Reed Bunting  and second oldest Longham bird [oldest is Reed Warbler L902332, ringed 21/06/2011 and retrapped 03/05/2016]

14th September
Ringing results: new birds 11 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 3 Robin, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Wren. Also two re-trap Long-tailed Tits, both ringed on 30 May this year (Roger Peart).

11th September

Little Gull

Little Gull (juvenile), Longham Lakes, 11th September 2016 (Martin Wood)

Juvenile Little Gull testing in north west corner of south lake was highlight today (Martin Wood).

10th September
This afternoon I made the following counts across the two lakes: Mute Swan-11, Gadwall –2, Mallard – 5, Little Grebe – 21, Great Crested Grebe – 23, Grey Heron – 1, Coot – 157, Lapwing – 12, Green Woodpecker – 2, Swallow – c50 (Martin Wood.)

4th September
Good start to the autumn with an immature Little Gull over the lakes this evening. Also 16 Lapwings (Martin Wood.)

1st September
Generally quiet so only Grey Wagtail, 3 Lapwings and Kingfisher. Perhaps also as many as 30 large fish cruising the still waters of the south lake. From the those showing the scales beneath the dorsal fin, I am sure they are all carp. I have seen 5/6 large carp here in past years, but never these numbers (Alan Pearce

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Summer 2016

Grey Heron, Longham Lakes, Dorset 11/08/16 (Roger Peart)

Grey Heron, Longham Lakes, Dorset 11/08/16 (Roger Peart)

20th August
Had walk round the south lake late morning early afternoon, 4 Swifts, lots of Sand Martins and House Martins over the lake. Also of interest were 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Hobby over and a Pochard at the south end of the lake, and a Tufted Duck with 4 ducklings (Martin Wood).

18th August
Birds included 23 Mute Swans, 8 Swallows, a Coot with young, a Tufted Duck with 4 ducklings, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Sandpiper and Common Whitethroat. Non-bird sightings included 9 Red Arrows and the Memphis Belle! (Trevor Wilkinson).

14th August
A quick walk round the North Lake this afternoon the highlights were Willow Warbler – 4, Common Whitethroat – 2, Stonechat – 2, Sparrowhawk – 1, Great Crested Grebe – 7 (Martin Wood).

13th August
I had an evening ringing session at Longham yesterday. From 18.00 to 21.00 there were 15 new Chiffchaffs, 13 Willow Warblers, 8 Long-tailed Tits and, the last bird, a single Reed Warbler. Also one re-trap Chiffchaff ringed at the end of July. A bit strange that there were no Blackcaps and only the one Reed Warbler. (Roger Peart)

Green Woodpecker (juvenile), Longham Lakes, Dorset 11/06/16 (Roger Peart)

Green Woodpecker (juvenile), Longham Lakes, Dorset 11/06/16 (Roger Peart)

12th August
Quite a good session at Longham yesterday. 28 new birds ringed and two re-traps (one an adult female Chiffchaff ringed earlier in June and the other a Great Tit first ringed in 2012 as a juvenile). The new birds were: 8 Chiffchaff, 7 Blackcap, 7 Willow Warbler and one each of Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Garden Warbler and a juvenile Green Woodpecker. Kestrel over the nets about 05.45 and Grey Heron on small island in Longham Reservoir South about 10.20.
(Roger Peart).

2nd August
A walk round the South Lake, 11.00-13.15 revealed 12 Great Crested Grebe (in fact on Longham Reservoir North), Coot (58 in far SW corner of South Lake alone) 2 Little Egret, 8 Mute Swan, Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting (f), Blackcap (f), 50+ House Martin (12.00), 30+ Swift and 30+ Swallow at 12.20,  then 20+ Swift and 25+ Swallow (12.55), 20 Jackdaw, 2 Willow Warbler and 4 Little Grebe. Dull, grey sky, following rain showers (Trevor Wilkinson).

31st July
Although referring to last year, I thought people would be interested in what dragonflies and damselflies are present on-site in the summer. Here is George Green’s 2015 report.

Although a total of 13 species were recorded at Longham Lakes during 2015 it is very likely that a few additional species were overlooked. The 2 pools just to the south of the South Lake were excellent sites for damselflies and dragonflies and were particularly favoured by the Red-eyed and Small Red-eyed Damselflies and the Four-spotted Chasers.

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
A wanderer from nearby River Stour.
Small numbers present on 17th, 25th & 29th June 2015.

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)
Scarce breeder.
Small numbers present 15th July-2nd August 2015.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum)
This is a recent colonist to Britain.
Small numbers present 9th-31st July 2015.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Common breeder.
Present 13th June-26th August 2015.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ishnura elegans)
Scarce breeder, perhaps overlooked.
Present on 25th June 2015.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)
Fairly common breeder.
Present 31st July-27th August 2015.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Scarce breeder.
Present on 26th August and 2 late Individuals on 4th November 2015 including one eating a bumblebee!

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Common breeder.
Present 17th June-31st July 2015

Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii)
A presumed wanderer from nearby heathland habitats.
Singles on 29th June & 15th July 2015.

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)
A presumed wanderer from the nearby River Stour which is a favoured river for this nationally rare species.
Singles on 23rd May and 9th July 2015.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
A scarce breeder.
Present on 29th June 2015.

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Fairly common breeder.
Present 13th June-2nd August 2015.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
Fairly common breeder.
Present 31st July-26th August 2015.

26th July
Ringing produced 14 new birds (3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Wren and one each of Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Robin, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Garden Warbler). All were juveniles except one Wren and the Blackcap, Great Tit and Bullfinch. The Garden Warbler was nice to have – didn’t get one at all last year and only one in 2014. Also one re-trap Reed Warbler which was ringed in early June last year also as an adult. (Roger Peart).

24th July
The most notable sightings on today’s Wetland Bird Survey (WEBS) were: 3 Common Sandpiper, 5 Lapwing (2 adult and 3 full grown juveniles among the tall herbage on riverside water meadow. Could they have bred here I wonder?) 1 Raven, and 37 Tufted Duck with 3 broods of 5, 2 and 2 ducklings. No synchronized mass hatchings yet this year (Trevor Thorpe).

23rd July
Ringing early morning was rather slow going, with just 12 new birds and 4 re-traps. New ones were: 7 Reed Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, Robin, juvenile Bullfinch and Great Tit. The re-traps were two Robins, both juveniles ringed earlier this summer, and 2 Wrens, both adults ringed last year. Not a lot of other birds about which was fairly unusual for this time of year. At least some Reed Warblers and Chiffchaffs have been productive. (Roger Peart).

Meanwhile, a walk round the lakes this afternoon did not produce much, but highlights were 1 Common Sandpiper, 14 Lapwing and 1 Grass Snake (my first for Longham) swimming along the edge of the rocks on the east bank by the pump house (Martin Wood).

22nd July
This morning there were 8 Common Sandpiper in one flock mobile around south lake and occasionally resting on the willows. Also 4 Sedge Warbler (Lorne Bissell).

Apparent female Scaup, Longham Lakes, Dorset 22/08/16 (Lorne Bissell).

Apparent female Scaup, Longham Lakes, Dorset 22/08/16 (Lorne Bissell).

21st July
There were 2 Common Sandpipers, 3 Common Terns and what looks like a female Scaup [left] (Lorne Bissell).

16th July
Survey work at Longham produced a Little Egret in the ‘off-limits’ south settling pools..

Invertebrates included the usual good numbers of Small Red-eyed Damselfly in the south-west pool and a few Scarce Chasers closer to the river with a good scattering of White-legged Damselfly. Also, of note, Ringlet (an excellent year for them), a Six-belted Clearwing (moth) in the grass at the extreme north end (probably checking out the Bird’s-foot Trefoil there). Also very good numbers of Lindenius panzeri (a solitary wasp) at a discrete site – possibly the best in the Dorset (Steve Morrison).

15th July
14.45-16.45: highlights were Sedge Warbler (new for Patchwork Challenge year-list), 3 Common Sandpipers, 13 Lapwing, a brood of 4 Tufted ducklings and a Grey Wagtail (Martin Wood).

7th July
Lunchtime today 4 Common Sandpipers on North Island in south lake and 2 Sand Martins (Lorne Bissell).

6th July
First Common Sandpiper of the autumn. Also good numbers of Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum on the small pond just beyond the SW corner of the South Lake (George Green).

2nd July
A single Black-tailed Godwit flew over the South Lake (George Green) and a Hobby flew over (Martin Wood).

26th June
A good number of Banded Damselflies about, plus a few Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites, a Brimstone and one Red Admiral. (Martin Wood).

24th June
Walking up along the causeway there were about 30 Swifts flying this way and that and some darting past at head height after insects. I just love watching these masters of the air as they go about hawking across the lake and high in the sky specially when we have good conditions like this evening.

I decided to count the Tufted Ducks that were about across both lakes and came up with a count of c150 tuftys and 44 Coots on south lake only. The most interesting thing to happen this evening though was a Cuckoo I heard call behind Samuel’s Wood and a Fox trying to catch Woodpigeons. Other sightings were 1 Marbled White , a Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Jay, 6 House Martin, 4 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Chiffchaff singing (Martin Wood).

21st June
Sandwich Tern perched on buoy at south end of South Lake this pm (George Green).

17th June
Out on the water this evening I counted Tufted Duck – c113 on Longham Reservoir South and 60 on LR North, plus Mallards c25, Mute Swan 20 and 2 Great Crested Grebe plus the usual Coots and Herring Gulls. Along the western side up to Samuel’s Wood the best was a Cetti’s Warbler on show for a brief second or two, a Whitethroat, a singing Chiffchaff and a Peregrine (which brings my Patchwork Challenge year list up to 82 for the year). (Martin Wood).

11th June
Had a moderately good time at Longham yesterday morning with 18 new birds and three retraps. Robins were again the star performers with 9 juveniles and all three of the r-etraps (all adults, two ringed last month and the other last July as a juvenile). The other new birds were 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Dunnocks, 2 Greenfinches, 2 Bullfinches and a Song Thrush. The finches were 2 adult pairs, each pair caught together. No Reed Warblers – they have gone from the layby area and, seemingly, the clump.

Blackcaps and Reed Buntings singing around the clump but not venturing near the nets. Other interest: One Cuckoo calling to the west at 0500 gradually moved closer and then ended up just to the east of the site by 0540. At least one Mandarin heard calling flying over around 0530. One Shelduck seen flying south over the works area at 0640. NO Swifts over this time.

Several Banded Demoiselles flying about, and one Scarce Chaser.

When I set the nets up the evening before there was female Pheasant and four weakly flying young in the long vegetation on the way to the clump [first confirmed breeding record for Longham]. (Roger Peart).

8th June
Very quiet, only two Great Crested Grebes, 5 Gadwall plus the usual Coots and Tufted Ducks. 1 Shelduck on the large island, 7 Swift and 7 House Martin and a Buzzard were the best seen (Martin Wood).

2nd June
I have just had another ringing recovery. Sad but quite a nice movement (Roger Peart).

Willow Warbler
EJK898 N 3 (1st Y) 28/07/14 Longham Lakes (11), Dorset
X Dead 03/05/16 Cascob, Presteigne, Powys (188 km, NNW, 1 yr 280days)

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Spring 2016

30th May
I went to Longham this morning for a ringing session. It was surprisingly good considering that the wind was rather breezy. There were 21 new birds and 13 re-traps. These numbers were mainly boosted by a family flock of Long-tailed Tits, which included 7 juveniles, 2 new females and 4 other re-trap adults. The only migrants were one new and 2 re-trap Chiffchaffs and a new male Whitethroat. Robins were much in evidence, 5 new birds (4 juveniles and 1 adult) and two re-trap adults. The other species were Wren, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blue Tit and Bullfinch. One re-trap Long-tailed Tit was ringed in September 2012, another in May 2013. Both re-trap Chiffchaffs were from Sep 2014.
There was a large group of Swifts overhead (and low around the south shore) for almost the whole time (0500 to 0900) – difficult to count but I reckon at least 40 (Roger Peart).

22nd May
No sign of the Black-necked Grebe this morning or on my last visit. Best birds today were 3 Common Terns flying over the South Lake towards the River Stour (George Green). Went round south lake this afternoon with my son loads of Swift and Swallows about, I have l also not seen the Black-necked grebe on my last two trips, last seen on the 17th. Best birds this afternoon were Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Shelduck and a Kestrel. Reed Warblers were very active this afternoon with 14 heard and some seen (Martin Wood).

19th May
Steve Morrison, doing ecological work on-site recorded Bombus muscorum on the watermeadows and a nest of Bombus hypnorum in one of the ‘dormouse’ boxes. He also found Longham Lakes’s very first orchid, a Green-Veined Orchid in the Bournemouth Water compound.

Birdwise, he recorded the following: Garden Warbler still singing south of Study Centre (this is by far the longest a Garden Warbler has ever stayed here); Mandarin – female with at least 6 young on the Stour (first confirmed breeding for Longham, suspected for the last couple of years); 2 pairs Grey Wagtail on territory (Stour). There was a pair of Shelduck and 2 pairs of Gadwall on the stink pools to the south of the river, away from public access. Also no less than 7-8 Cetti’s Warblers singing.

Otherwise, preliminary results of the breeding survey (without checking notes) – 2 pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 pairs Green Woodpecker, 11-12 Whitethroat, 20-25 Reed Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Jackdaw, c.8 Greenfinch, c.5 Goldfinch, only 2 Chaffinch, c.15 Blackcap, 8 Song Thrush, 11 Reed Bunting, plus the usual bunch of tits, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, etc.

Also, first couple of Scarce Chaser dragonflies on the wing.

16th May
Black-necked Grebe still present, Cuckoo calling down by the river Stour and male Mandarin Duck on South Lake and a good number of Swifts (Martin Wood, George Green). Some survey work at Longham produced a singing Garden Warbler just south of the visitor’s centre and later 2 adult Hobbys feeding over the south lake/river – 14.45 (Steve Morrison).

13th May
A Cuckoo flying over the Causeway was my highlight today, with a supporting cast of 1 Pochard, 3 Gadwall, 1 Peregrine, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 1 Great Black-backed Gull (Dominic Couzens).

12th May
Summer plumage Black-necked Grebe still present on South Lake but surprisingly elusive (George Green).

Nightjar, Longham Lakes, 11 May 2016 (Trevor Wilkinson)

Nightjar, Longham Lakes, 11 May 2016 (Trevor Wilkinson)

11th May
There was a superb new species for Longham Lakes today, a Nightjar found by Trevor Wilkinson in the early afternoon. It was posing in the sunshine on a post below a large oak south of the Study Centre. Thanks to Trevor for the phone call, which I got when taking my son to piano lesson at West Parley, barely 5 minutes away. What a great bird, the site’s 179th species. George Green also found a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe on the South Lake. Best of the rest were a Garden Warbler singing just south of the Study Centre, 3 Egyptian Geese, 1 Shelduck, 1 Lapwing, 2 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper. Martin Wood also watched Bream spawning.
There were 2 broods of Mallard ducklings, 6 and 2 respectively, plus 7 Canada Goose chicks and 4 young Starlings (Trevor Wilkinson).

10th May
My first settled Greenshank for the site, my other 2 records being fly-overs, also 2 Dunlin and 2 Common Sandpipers – all on the South Lake island. Best of the rest 2 Egyptian Geese (George Green).

8th May
Quiet today, with Reed warblers singing, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lapwing, 1 male Blackcap, 2 Green Woodpeckers heard (Martin Wood). This morning produced only my 3rd site record of Garden Warbler. Best of the rest were a pair of Shelduck on Hampreston Fields and a Common Sandpiper on the South Lake (George Green).

4th May
Among a list compiled by the OWLs were Gadwall, Greylag Goose and Great Black-backed Gull.

3rd May
A morning’s visit produced only my 2nd Spotted Flycatcher for the site. Otherwise a single Whimbrel circling the South Lake, a singing Garden Warbler and an influx of Swifts (George Green).

Roger Peart: Had a decent ringing session this morning with 8 new birds and 11 re-traps. Good weather too! New birds included two Whitethroats (a male and female pair caught in the same net but at different times), first Reed Warbler of the year, and a male Blackcap.

Re-traps of interest were: 2 Reed Buntings (ringed June 2012 and Nov 2014), Reed Warbler (ringed 2011, re-trapped in 2012 and 2013 but not since until today), a Cetti’s Warbler (Oct 2015) a Blackbird and a Song Thrush (both ringed 2013 and this is the first recapture).

30th April
Hobby, Common Sandpiper and arrival of 30+ Swifts (George Green).

29th April
Dropped in to Longham Lakes on the way home from work this afternoon, and what a sight I had with a spectacular aerial display of c200 Swifts with some House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallows in the mix. The birds were at all heights from just above my head to very high, swooping this and that way while hawking for insects. In a 2 hour and 20 minute walk around the South Lake I managed to record 36 species, with four new birds for my Patch Work Challenge which stands now at the end of the month with 75 species seen and a point score of 79. One of the new birds I have been trying to spot for a long time and after almost two years I finally found, a Treecreeper in an oak. Also Whitethroat – 4, Reed Warbler -1 with others heard, Mandarin Duck – 1 male preening on a willow branch off the small island before taking a swim across the lake, Shelduck – 2 flying in from the east and settled on the water, west side of the large lake (Martin Wood).

25th April
A very enjoyable visit to Longham Lakes this afternoon. Plenty of Tufted Ducks (about 85), and Reed Bunting and Whitethroat much in evidence, and a Cetti’s Warbler too, but the highlight was about 90 Swifts with about 30 apiece of Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. Also 3 Common Sandpipers: 2 on the big island and one on the eastern shore of southern lake (Steve Smith).

23rd April
I went to Longham mid-morning today to take a few poles and guys ready for Wednesday. Then I had a brief walk up the west path of the south lake as far as the causeway, noting the following: Blackcaps & Chiffchaffs singing, Whitethroat, Swifts – at least three high overhead; a few Swallows; at least 2 Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead; and 4 Mallard pairs with ducklings numbering 11, 6, 5 and 4. The two larger were fairly young, less than a week. I guess, while the two smaller parties were somewhat older, probably two weeks (Roger Peart).

20th April
Good diversity around Longham again today, with 57 species recorded. The first Swifts of the year came over in groups through the morning, with at least 30 logged, but probably many more overhead; good numbers of Swallows and House Martins, together with a single Sand Martin, made it a good aerial birds day. A Peregrine also flew over. The other highlight was a male Mandarin on the River Stour opposite Samuel’s Wood – it is possible that there is a pair breeding on site. Seven Gadwalls remain, but yesterday’s Shoveler and Teal seem to have gone. Mallards are well into production, with parties of 3, 6 and 6 ducklings around. A Goldcrest in Emily’s Wood was a surprise for the time of year. Otherwise, the first butterflies are on the wing, and included Peacock, Comma and Orange-tip (Dominic Couzens).

19th April
An hour or so’s walk around the Lakes today produced an excellent 53 species, the undoubted highlight being a fly-over Marsh Harrier, of which there are only 4 previous records. This was a dark juvenile and it flew north at a height of about 20m without stopping. Otherwise a Wheatear along the western side of Longham Reservoir South was a good one, and there were at least 2, and possibly 4 Common Sandpipers in (Dominic Couzens).

16th April
Arrival of summer visitors at Longham Lakes this morning with my first Sedge and Reed Warblers and Common Whitethroat. Also a large influx of mixed hirundines (all 3 common species) with several hundred present. Otherwise a pair of Shelduck and a Common Sandpiper on the island in the South Lake (George Green).  Also in the scrub on the western side of the lake 2 possibly 3 Blackcaps I saw a male and female and heard another bird sing. (Martin Wood).

12th April
This morning there were 3 Shelducks on the South Lake (George Green).

11th April
A small influx of Pied Wagtails which included a fine male White Wagtail (George Green).

8th April
A White Wagtail and a pair of Shelduck on the island in the South Lake this afternoon (George Green). Additional sightings included Treecreeper, 2 Grey Heron, a Mallard with 8 ducklings, Pochard (male), Gadwall (male and female), Teal (male and female on pond in field), Mistle Thrush plus Fox and Roe Deer (Trevor Wilkinson).

5th April
Sightings included: 29 Mute Swan, 12 Canada Geese, 4 Little Egret, Shoveler, Teal, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), Mallard (separate groups of 5 and 8 ducklings), 3 Buzzard, 3 Cetti’s Warbler (1 seen, 2 only heard), 5 Reed Bunting and Pheasant (heard). (Trevor Wilkinson). In addition 2 Sparrowhawks together, 2 Grey Wagtails, Willow Warblers and 2 fighting Grey Herons (Pat and Dave Harris).

2nd April
First Wheatear and Willow Warblers (at least 3 birds singing) of the spring. Also a few Sand Martins (George Green). Another birder had a Green Sandpiper and a Red-legged Partridge earlier in the morning (latter has not been seen at Longham since 2009). Several sightings of Swallows today. This and Sparrowhawk were new to Martin Wood’s Patchwork Challenge. He also had Shoveler – 10, Wigeon – 1, Gadwall – 2, Canada Geese – 15, Chiffchaff – 3, Buzzard – 2, Lesser Black-backed Gull – 2 and Herring Gull – 11.

28th March
Lots of interesting counts by Darran Jones today on his Patchwork Challenge visit, which included two firsts for him this year: Green Woodpecker and Swallow. Also Blue Tit (6), Bullfinch (2), Canada Geese (10), Chaffinch (5), Chiffchaff (3), Collared Dove (3), Cormorant (12), Coot (too many), Gadwall (8), Great Tit (5), Greylag Geese (5), Great Crested Grebe (12), Mallard (5), Magpie 7, Shoveler (3), Teal (6) and Tufted Duck (100).

27th March
Still 10 Shoveler about, 6 Pochard (4M 2F) , 1 male Kestrel, 5 Sand Martin and one odd looking Scaup/Tufted duck female (Martin Wood)

25th March
Went to Longham Lakes this morning (08.55 –11.00 hrs) a wonderful sunny morning’s walk round the lake; the highlights were Mediterranean Gulls 74 settled on the water and two flying about, Reed Bunting – 10, Shoveler –10, Lesser Black backed Gull –1, Black-headed Gull c130 settled on the water, Cetti’s Warbler – 2 one calling in the north west corner and one on the north east side of the lake just before east fields, Chiffchaff –2 very smart looking birds singing,  Lapwing – 1 on the large island (Martin Wood).

19th March
A flock of at least 20 Black-tailed Godwits on the island at the north end of the South Lake today. Amazingly they were often out of view hidden in the long grass. Also 8+ Sand Martins but only 20 or so Med Gulls. Small arrival of Pied Wags and Reed Buntings which seemed to be associating with each other as they fed along the causeway (George Green).

Late afternoon, only had 3 Sand Martins, 4 Med Gulls , 6 Reed Bunting, 15 or more Pied Wagtails, 2 Jays, Meadow Pipit and a Cetti’s Warbler calling. Out on the fields were 4 Greylag Geese (Martin Wood).

15th March
At Longham there was still a small group of Pochard on the North Lake and the usual wildfowl out on the lakes. A couple of Jays were seen and 10 Redwing, with two new bird added to the Longham list: a Siskin and 3 Snipe (Martin Wood). In late morning, Mediterranean Gull 2 ads, Raven 1, Snipe 2 (on North Island), Common Gull ad 1 (Lorne Bissell).

12th March
After the mist had cleared, had a count of 104 Mediterranean Gulls this morning (Robin Trundle).

11th March
Had a nice spring walk round Longham South lake again this afternoon. Fields are flooded again which had a few Shoveler, Mallard and gulls on dry land. Best of the birds were: Lesser Redpoll – 4, Med Gull – 3, Lesser Black-backed Gull – 2, Goldcrest – 2, Buzzard – 2 (Martin Wood).

5th March
4 Goldcrests this afternoon (Martin Wood)

4th March
Dropped in to Longham Lakes on the way home from work this afternoon. This is just the highlights along with the usual species on the lakes: Pochard 16 this group consisted of 14 males and two females; Reed Bunting – 1; Pheasant – 1 new bird for the patch list; Chiffchaff – 2; Kestrel – 1 male; Buzzard; Redwing – 29 two different groups in different fields; Med Gulls – 6; Black-tailed Godwits – 16, new birds for the patch list. The Patchwork Challenge list is now up to 57 species (Martin Wood).

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January-February 2016

23rd February
A flock of 50+ Lesser Redpolls was a nice surprise at Longham Lakes this morning since this species is an uncommon visitor to this site. The flock was favouring the catkin covered trees by the small pool at the SW corner of the South Lake. Also signs of the start of the spring passage of Mediterranean Gulls with 4 birds present. Further signs of spring with plenty of birds singing including a Chiffchaff (George Green).

20th February
Greylag Goose 2 on the water meadows, Kestrel 1, Snipe 1 on the small island on South lake, Common Gull 6, Mediterranean Gull 7, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Redwing 30+, Chiffchaff 3 (Robin Trundle).

16th February
My first decent bird at Longham for several weeks in the form of a Firecrest this afternoon. This is also a site tick for me. Otherwise nothing much else with wildfowl numbers remaining very low with the exception of Pochard (33) (George Green).

13th February
Martin Wood went birding today for the Patchwork Challenge and saw, among others: Pochard – 30, Tufted Duck – 62, Gadwall c33, Shoveler – 5, Black-headed Gull c130, Mediterranean Gull – 3, Kestrel – 1 male, Redwing – 20, Collared Dove – 2, Greenfinch – 4 and Meadow Pipit – 1. His year-list is up to 50 species.

11th February
I invited Bob Gibbons, the renowned botanist and writer, to Longham today to check out some of the waterside plants on site. Of course, it being winter there wasn’t much in flower, but hopefully this will be the first of a number of such checks. Anyhow, we only covered parts of Longham Reservoir South and the pools at the southern end. Among the species we found were Lesser Pond-Sedge Carex acutiformis, Compact Rush Juncus conglomeratus, Jointed Rush Juncus articulatus, Soft Rush Juncus effusus and Hard Rush Juncus inflexus, Galingale Cyperus sp, Common Water-Plantain Alisma plantago-aquatica, Water Starwort Callitriche sp., Brooklime Veronica beccabunga, Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria and Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica.

7th February
A good one today: Alan Pearce had a Firecrest in a bramble thicket on the west bank of Longham Reservoir South; also 3 Chiffchaffs.

4th February
Here is an interesting recovery/control that I have just received: a Reed Warbler ringed in July at Longham, retrapped (twice) at Christchurch in August, then controlled in France in September less than a fortnight after that. Must be getting quite used to being handled! (Roger Peart).

Reed Warbler D982526
3J 15/7/2015  Longham Lakes (11), Dorset
3J Recaptured 11/8/2015  Hengistbury Head Centre, Christchurch, (12 km, ESE, 27 days)
C3 Recaptured 22/8/2015 Wick, Christchurch, (12 km, ESE, 38 days)
C3 Recaptured 3/9/2015 Marais-Moisin-Ouest, Messanges, Landes, France (775 km, S, 50 days.

Meanwhile, at the lakes it was pretty quiet. However I did flush 26 Snipe from the West Fields this afternoon, which is the highest number recorded there. There was also a Treecreeper in Emily’s Wood. For previous counts click Common Snipe.

2nd February
Had a group out at Longham Lakes this morning, bird of the day was definitely Chiffchaff with a minimum of 4 seen at any one time enjoying the beautiful sunshine out of the wind. On the lakes usual species a few Common Gulls with the Black-heads, a few Shoveler and did find a pair of Teal eventually in flooded part of the field, a pair of Great Crested Grebes starting courtship head shaking. Some other highlights: Redwing 6+, Song Thrush 3+, Goldcrest 1, Kestrel 1 pair, Green Woodpecker 3, Greenfinch singing, Little Egret 5 (Jackie Hull/Two Owls Birding).

31st January
Darran Jones Patchwork Challenge (PWC): A walk undertaken with the family produced three new species for the year: Little Egret, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. He ends the month with 43 species.

29th January
Made a short visit this lunchtime, to find the site rather quiet except for one thing….of which more below. Wildfowl numbers are nothing special, although 45 Gadwall isn’t bad; otherwise there were 17 Wigeon, 2 Teal and 2 Shoveler. A Snipe on the small island at the south end of the large reservoir was a decent bird and, in addition to 2 Chiffchaffs along the western edge, where a Cetti’s Warbler also called, the first of the year. However, gulls stole the show. Apart from a decent showing on the lakes themselves, including 85 Black-headed Gulls in a single group and 2 Great Black-backs, the real action was on Hampreston Fields, which was simply covered in gulls. This included a new site record for Herring Gulls of at least 320 birds, and there were good numbers of the rest too, including 1 Mediterranean Gull. No rarities showed themselves, but it was a mighty impressive sight nonetheless (Dominic Couzens). If you’re sad enough, check out the numbers under Herring Gull.

Martin Wood PWC: In addition to some of the above, he saw a Meadow Pipit and finishes the first month of the Patchwork Challenge with 46 species.

23rd January
First species of minor interest this year with a pair of Pintail circling the lake. Otherwise very quiet with very few waterfowl except for 41 Pochard – a high count for this site in recent winters (George Green) – for details see Pochard.

17th January
Martin Wood PWC: Had a walk round north lake today, got 4 new birds for my Patchwork Challenge site. These were: Kingfisher on a fence post by the river, Stonechat on the fence wire in Hampreston Fields and a Common Gull by the slipway; and an easy one I should have got ages ago was a Chaffinch. Out on the north lake there were c40 Pochard, a few Tufted Ducks, about 5 Great Crested Grebes, a Little Grebe and Cormorants.
Darran Jones PWC: A good visit with the following new species: Robin, Wren, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Grey Heron and Wigeon. Total now 40 species.

12th January
A very quick visit to Longham would have started well had I not been too slow in getting binoculars on to a raptor that was probably a Merlin – but remains unproven. The only other bird of note was Siskin flying over Emily’s Wood (Dominic Couzens).

10th January
Martin Wood PWC: I began with Redwing in the car park and another singing Song Thrush not far from the Study Centre. On the small lake I counted 20 Pochard. I walked round both lakes this afternoon with the hope of getting some new birds to build up the Longham list. The first new bird was a lone Greylag Goose among 72 Canada Geese out on the flooded Hampreston fields. The new birds: Greylag Goose, Great Black-backed Gull, Greenfinch, Green Woodpecker, Moorhen, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail.
Darran Jones PWC: I didn’t have a lot of time today, but did manage to add a few new birds to my patch list for the Patchwork Challenge. These included Shoveler, Teal, Greylag Goose, Starling, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail and Buzzard. I scanned the fields and added quite a few Corvids to the list, including Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and about 6 Magpies. There was a large flock of around 30 Rooks too, adding another new bird to the patch list. That now brings my patch total to 33 birds. (Darran Jones).

8th January
Just for a change, I decided to start my Longham year off by doing a night-time visit. Had an 80 minute walk in the dark around the lakes. Great idea, right? Perhaps, but it certainly wasn’t rewarded, and I hardly saw or heard anything. There was compensation in hearing a Tawny Owl in Emily’s Wood, at least (Dominic Couzens).

5th January
Among 30 species seen or heard were the following: Great Crested Grebe (6 in Nth lake), 10 Pochard (Nth lake), Kingfisher (Nth lake, flying between reedbeds), Shoveler (m,f), 5 Wigeon, Gadwall, 7(6m,f) Mallard, 14 Canada Geese, 5 Teal (flooded west fields), Cetti’s warbler (Causeway, only heard). (Trevor Wilkinson)

3rd January
I am delighted that two birders, Martin Wood and Darran Jones are using Longham Lakes as their site for the Patchwork Challenge (PWC) http://patchworkchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/. Throughout the year I will use fragments of their experiences on this blog, but for the whole story I refer you to their own websites.

Martin Wood (http://wessexbirding.blogspot.co.uk/)
I started late this morning at Longham Lakes in very windy wet weather not ideal conditions but managed to record 29 species giving me a total of 30 points to kick off my challenge at this patch.

Darran Jones (http://greatbritishbirdhunt.blogspot.co.uk/)
My first trip to Longham Lakes was interesting as all the back fields have flooded. As a result all the geese and swans were very active and a lot nearer than they usually are. It wasn’t a bad start and I saw a total of 24 different species.

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November and December 2015

2015 and all that…

Another year comes to an end at Longham Lakes. It was a decent year, with 130 species recorded, including five new to the site: Caspian Gull, Grasshopper WarblerCattle Egret, Long-eared Owl and Short-eared Owl. There weren’t many rarities, but the Penduline Tits in November certainly took some beating (shame I was away in Malawi…)

Penduline Tits

Penduline Tits, Longham Lakes, 23/11/15 (Steve Smith) (http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/)

Another major highlight was the recovery of one of our ringed Chiffchaffs in Morocco, and the mammal highlights included the first ever bat netting session on site and the first record of Nathusius’s Pipitstrelle.

19th December

Beside the usual stuff, there was a Green Sandpiper on the small island then on the east bank before flying off west over the lake towards Hampreston Fields and a Kestrel searching the west bank and causeway. 5 Grey Heron on the fields and 1 on the large island and another on the small island and 5 Little Egrets dotted about the place (Martin Wood).

7th December
Remarkable and marvellous news today. A Chiffchaff ringed at Longham Lakes, an unremarkable inland patch in Dorset has been recovered, believe it or not, in MOROCCO! The details:

Chiffchaff HCX212
16/04/2015 Ringed (by BC) Adult Longham Lakes (net 11), Dorset
26/11/2015 Entered house & released alive Kenitra, Morocco (1874 km, SSW, 224 days)

This kind of result must make all the hard work of ringing worthwhile.

4th December
Some birds of minor interest with 3 Egyptian Geese present on 1st, 2nd & 4th December. Also a Mandarin was reported on 3rd December. Otherwise very quiet (George Green).

28th November
This morning a Yellow-legged Gull 1(1st w), Mediterranean Gull 2, Common Gull 6, Dunlin 1 (calling flyover), Black-tailed Godwit 43 (circled, didn’t land), Lapwing 30 ( a few landed on North Island), Raven 1, Kingfisher 1 (on large pool sw corner), injured Roe Deer 1 (Lorne Bissell). Also a probable Short-eared Owl in the late morning, which disappeared quickly (Linda Martin).

27th November
In the late afternoon Yellow-legged Gull 1 ad (Lorne Bissell). Plenty of birds around late morning, nearly 50 species, the best being a small flock of Siskins in amongst a much larger flock of Goldfinches (George Green).

24th November
The PENDULINE TITS were still around and posing well at times for photographs, but they were elusive at other times and several people missed them. Other reports included 2 Chiffchaffs (Martin Wood), up to 80 Black-tailed Godwits (Ian Ballam), 3 Siskins and a Raven (George Green).

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit (male), Longham Lakes, Dorset, 23/11/15 (Steve Smith).

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit, Longham Lakes, Dorset, 23/11/15 (Steve Smith)

23rd November

The PENDULINE TITS showed on and off today in the south-west corner of the big lake.

Thanks to Steve Smith for permission to use the photos from his blog http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/.

Roger Peart: I had a very short notice session at Longham this morning, getting it in before the weather turns sour again later this week! It was rather chilly but flat calm. 13 new birds in total – 7 more Redwings, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Firecrest, 1 Cetti’s, 1 Song Thrush and 1 Blue Tit. 3 retraps (2 Robin, 1 Blue Tit) from this year. The Redwing catches have been great these last two weeks – my total is now 22, which is exactly double my previous best annual total.

22nd November
Today 2 PENDULINE TITS have turned up at Longham (Mike Stewart). They have caused a major twitch for the site and seem to be appearing on and off…


Redwing, Longham Lakes, Dorset, 12/11/2015 (Roger Peart).

12th November
Quite a good short session today, but not so many birds: 14 new and 4 local retraps. Tried a Redwing call with some success – caught two. The rest were Goldcrest 7, and one each of Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Blackbird and Song Thrush. The retraps were a Blackbird and three Robins – one of the latter was a bird ringed in September 2014 as a juvenile.

4th November
The month has started with a bang with another new bird for the site: SHORT-EARED OWL. Coming hot on the heels of last month’s Long-eared, one flew over Longham Lakes this afternoon. At first the bird was fairly low as it appeared from the direction of Hampreston Meadows, but then climbed high and disappeared NE towards Ferndown. I was also surprised to find 2 Migrant Hawkers still flying around despite the damp overcast weather. One caught either a bee or wasp and settled to eat it (George Green).

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September and October 2015

26th October

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, Dorset, 26/10/15 (Roger Peart).

Nothing of the slightest interest today, unless you count yet another Yellow-browed Warbler, which is, quite unbelievably, the THIRD this autumn. Just to remind you, Longham is an inland site with no particular draw for migrants, even though it has now had 4 Yellow-browed Warblers and 2 Ortolan Buntings. What else must lurk here at times?

There were just 14 new birds and three retraps (2 Long-tailed Tits and 1 Blue Tit). The rest were : 6 Goldcrests and one each of Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Song Thrush (Roger Peart).

25th October
Went round the North lake today: c 200 Coot, a few Great Crested Grebes, 2 Chiffchaff , the best was a Kingfisher by the pump house then flying across the lake then over the willows. 14 Wigeon yesterday on South Lake (Martin Wood).

20th October

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, 20/10/15 (Roger Peart)

What is going on? Today there was yet another Yellow-browed Warbler ringed at Longham, as well as 2 more Firecrests (see photo below). In total 25 new birds, which were 8 Chiffchaffs, 8 Goldcrests, 3 Wrens and one each of Meadow Pipit, Blackcap and Great Tit. Also 2 retraps (1st year Wren from this year, a Robin ringed as 1st year in 2012).

Bizarrely there was also a bat in the bird-ringing nets, which happened to be a Brown Long-eared Bat (6th species of bat this month.


Firecrest, Longham Lakes, 20/10/15 Roger Peart).

17th October
Yet more excitement at Longham today, with one new species for the site and one rarity. The new species was a LONG-EARED OWL flushed from bushes surrounding the small pools at the southern end of Longham Reservoir South. It quickly disappeared, not to be seen again. The rarity was a female/immature Red-breasted Merganser found by George Green on the north end of the same lake, the fifth site record. Other good birds around included a fly-over Redpoll and lots of Siskins, while duck numbers are improving: at least 8 Wigeon and 30+ Shoveler today (Dominic Couzens, Ed Parnell, George Green).

16th October
The Dorset Bat Group put up three nets again tonight close to the Study Centre, but in contrast to 25th September, we didn’t catch anything. However, the various bat detection devices used showed that the following species were flying around: Noctule, Daubenton’s Bat, Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and, once again, Nathusius’s Pipistrelle (Dominic Couzens, Jan Freeborn, Saska McGrath et al).

A Peregrine flew over while we put the nets up.

13th October


Siskin (1st-year female), Longham Lakes, Dorset, 13/10/15 (Roger Peart)

I managed another quite short ringing session this morning (6.30 to 9.15am) with fewer nets up to save time. Good numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests still moving through. Ringed 13 Chiffchaffs, 7 Goldcrests, 2 Robins, and one each of Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Blue Tit and Siskin. The latter is the first one I have caught at Longham. I also had a Sparrowhawk in one net but he bounced out before I could get near him. No retraps today nor Meadow Pipits (Roger Peart). Also 2 female/immature Shoveler on fishing lake (Ron Poulter).

9th October

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler, Longham Lakes, Dorset, 9/10/15 (Roger Peart).

In a non-stop morning I had Yellow-browed Warbler [2nd for site] and a Firecrest [3rd]! A Green Woodpecker obliged as well.


Firecrest, Longham Lakes, Dorset, 9/10/15 (Roger Peart).

The total new birds was 69 made up of:
27 Chiffchaff, 15 Goldcrest, 9 Meadow Pipits, 6 Wren, 2 each of Great Tit, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch (they were a surprise) and one each of Green Woodpecker, Robin, Cetti’s Warbler and Blackcap. Just 2 retraps – a Dunnock (ringed May 2014 as a juvenile) and a Robin (also a juvenile from June 2014).
I intended to stop about 1100 like yesterday but I didn’t get away before 1200 as it was so busy. As it was I had to furl the nets and then go back and take them down this afternoon. I needed to get home to get some lunch (Roger Peart).

8th October
I was able to get a longer ringing session in this morning and caught a good number of birds. Just three retraps (two Robins and a Goldcrest) but 56 new ones., made up of 28 Chiffchaffs, 9 Goldcrests, 5 Blackcaps, 4 Wrens, 2 each of Robin, Great Tit and Song Thrush, and one each of Reed Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird and Blue Tit. Good weather conditions – no wind or rain and not too chilly! (Roger Peart).

7th October
A short session night ringing session – just 10 new birds (3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Blue Tit and 2 Great Tit with 4 retrap Long-tailed Tits). (Roger Peart).

3rd October
Some firm identifications came today from sonagrams taken during last Friday’s (Sept 25th) bat-fest. These have confirmed that all three species of regular pipistrelles were flying near to the Study Centre: Common, Soprano and Nathusius’s Pipistrelles. One trace showed all three calling at once. This is exciting news. Along with the Serotines and Daubenton’s Bats, five species were flying that evening.

29th September
A note from Bournemouth Water: “We have a contractor starting maintenance work on Thursday (October 1st) morning to fill in the potholes on the track around Reservoir 2 (larger). Therefore, public access around this reservoir will be restricted while the work is completed. The work is expected to last for two days.

25th September
Busy at Longham this evening with bird-ringing and bat-netting. More details soon, but we caught 11 bats, including 9 Soprano Pipistrelles and 2 Daubenton’s Bats. Site record of at least 7 Serotines flying around. Probable Nathusius’s Pipistrelles were flying around too but we didn’t catch any (Dominic Couzens).
Bird ringing: my totals were 24 new and 7 retraps (6 Long-tailed Tit and 1 Chiffchaff). One of the Long-tailed Tits was first ringed as a juvenile in Jun 2013 and two of the others from Jun/July last year. The Chiffchaff was also a juvenile in July 2014. The new birds were a good variety: 9 Chiffchaffs, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Blue Tit, 2 each Wren, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting, and 1 each Blackcap and Great Tit. Also had a Buzzard take off from one of the trees in ‘the clump’, and there was the usual Tawny Owl calling to the west of that area some while before dusk (Roger Peart).

23rd September
News of another control: Chiffchaff EHY997 ringed 02 Sep 2015 0800 at Stanford Reservoir, Northants was controlled 18 Sep 2015 0830 at Longham Lakes. Distance 192 km Direction SSW (197 deg). A gentle amble across country towards the coast (Roger Peart).

21st September
An evening visit today with Saska McGrath (Bournemouth Water’s environment officer) and Jan Freeborn (Dorset Bat Group) to find that Longham was absolutely replete with bats. The paths around Longham Reservoir North played host to dozens of flickering bodies. As the sun set at least 5, and probably more Serotines were flying high over the water and the Study Centre, but it was the closer bats flying along the shore and by the hedgerows that caught our attention. At first I was wondering why I wasn’t getting much response with the bat detector at 55kHz (expecting the gathered masses to be Soprano Pipistrelles). Then, equally, the response at 45kHz wasn’t too impressive, either. It was only when we set the detectors to 38kHz and below that the machines began to really rock, and there was even a strong signal down to about 33kHz. This must surely mean that Longham is currently hosting the enigmatic, and still quite rare migrant bat the Nathusius’s Pipistrelle. There were also large numbers of Myotis bats around, most of them presumably Daubenton’s Bats – some were trawling (flying a few centimetres above the water) so definitely were. I would estimate that we saw 50-100 bats, and probably more, during the course of a short walk around Longham Reservoir North. Watch this space!

Apparently the Monday Morning Meander group visited the lakes this morning and estimated 400+ House Martins low over the water during rain, an excellent count (per Ian Julian).

18th September
Rather a good ringing session this morning- 57 new birds, 2 retraps (one Great Tit from last time, the other a Wren from July) and a control Chiffchaff. Nice shiny ring on the latter so it looks as though it may not have come far. The new birds were: 31 Chiffchaffs, 11 Blackcap, 7 Wren, 2 each Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, and one each of Cetti’s Warbler (Adult female), Blackbird, Robin and Blue Tit. I actually caught another two Chiffs but pressure of time caused me to let them escape. All captures were 1st years apart from the Cetti’s. I’m not sure why the Wrens were out in force! (Roger Peart).

15th September
Hobby: 1 briefly landed on fence post, Chiffchaff 3 singing, lots of Sand Martins (probably why the Hobby was about). (Lorne Bissell)

13th September
2 reports of a Merlin today (Martin Wood and Alan Pearce). Also a couple of Lapwings.

10th September

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker (well-grown juvenile), Longham Lakes, Dorset, 10/09/15 (Lorne Bissell).

1, perhaps 2 Redstarts this morning, the first of the year. Also  1 Stonechat, Willow-chiffs 6, juvenile Green Woodpecker and a sunbathing Robin (Lorne Bissell).

8th September
A good morning’s ringing today. 41 new birds and one re-trap Chiffchaff from last September (a juvenile then, now in full moult). New birds included 16 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler and a juvenile Bullfinch plus some Wrens, Robins and Great Tits. A Tawny Owl calling as I took the nets down at the western extremity, Kestrel over at about 0900 and at least 20 House Martins high overhead about 0630 (Roger Peart).

7th September
A glorious day to be out, rendered still more glorious by the fact that an OSPREY flew in at 10.30, low over Samuel’s Wood. After receiving grief from the gulls and Carrion Crows it headed off quickly, only to return a couple of times during the morning. Early on, Longham tapped into the very large Siskin movement that has been taking place at local coastal sites recently, with at least 30 over in three flocks. Other lesser highlights included the first Cetti’s Warbler singing for a while (and at least 2 on-site), 2 Hobbies, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Spotted Flycatchers (ark needed, anyone?) and both Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dominic Couzens, Lorne Bissell).

5th September
News today of a ringing control. A Reed Warbler ringed on 15th July this year as a juvenile was recaptured at Hengistbury Head on 11th August. Nothing special but nice to see it was on its way towards warmer climes (Roger Peart).

4th September
Happy to be back at Longham after a while. Migrants were a little thin on the ground, but did include 1 Spotted Flycatcher, the first of the year. This bird accompanied a flock of small stuff, including plenty of Chiffchaffs and 16 Long-tailed Tits. There were plenty of Blackcaps, Willow warblers and a few Common Whitethroats and Reed Warblers as well. In the air 2 rather late Common Swifts passed over, along with Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins. Meanwhile, a Nuthatch called from Samuel’s Wood, a first for me this year. Not very much on the lakes, except for a lot of both Little Grebes (including fledged young) and Great Crested Grebes (Trevor Wilkinson counted 35). Bizarrely, a Sparrowhawk was hunting around the northern corner of Longham Reservoir South, sometimes perching on small twigs sticking just a foot or so out of the water. This bird also flushed 35 Lapwings and a Black-tailed Godwit from the main island. Towards lunchtime, 2 Hobbies were feeding high up above the lakes (Dominic Couzens).

Lorne Bissell also saw a Yellow Wagtail today, also the first of the year.

2nd September
There was a first for Longham Lakes this morning. 5 CATTLE EGRETS flew south past the entrance to the Study Centre car park (Lorne Bissell). A great bird for Longham, but perhaps not such a surprise considering that there has been a flock of up to 23 of these birds just a few kilometres away locally. We’ve now had Cattle, Great and Little Egret here. Also 2 Sedge Warblers.

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