Yet more excitement today appeared in the form of Longham’s third record of Bearded Tit. Two birds were located in the reeds on the east side of the South Lake, and appeared fitfully until at least lunchtime (Matt, Lorne Bissell). It really has been an amazing year. During a pretty “birdy” morning, there was a reasonable selection of other stuff. Two Coal Tits were in the south-west corner near Samuel’s Wood in mid-morning; these are still rare here and it is the first time we have recorded two together. Other birds in that area included Bullfinches, at least 2 Siskins, 3 Redwings and a smattering of over-flying Skylarks. There were also good numbers of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Reed Buntings in this area of the site (Dominic Couzens).
It was always going to be a surreal day with ex-Hurricane Ophelia turning the skies dark and the sun red. And whether it was weird conditions or normal October milling around, yet another great bird turned up on-site today. Hot on the heels of his Common Scoter flock at the weekend, Lorne Bissell managed to unearth another seaduck early this morning, this time a male Velvet Scoter – another first for the site, too. Unfortunately there was to be no repeat of last week’s twitch. The bird flew off by first light and wasn’t seen again. Apart from this the birding was actually rather meagre, although the first Redwings of the autumn, 12 of them, flew over.
Thought I would try for some visible migration today, especially after the high winds of the last few days. Although stuff was hardly streaming over, there were a few goodies: a party of 6 Skylarks over at 11.00am were, amazingly, the first of the year. There were also a couple of Siskins, at least 40 Linnets, 8 Reed Buntings and, flying hither and thither and not necessarily moving, were Goldfinches and a couple of Chaffinches. To complete a “finchey” hour there were also 3 Bullfinches in the south-west corner, alongside Samuel’s Wood, and the odd Greenfinch about. Of moderate interest was a Grey Wagtail, and the usual ducks. 40 species wasn’t bad for a single hour (Dominic Couzens.)
A Water Rail was heard this morning among the commoner birds (Dave and Pat Harris.)
A couple of Siskin flew over today, reportedly.
It was a great day for birding at Longham Lakes, with lots of excellent birds present. Pride of place goes to the group of 4 COMMON SCOTERS found in the early morning by Lorne Bissell, which had gathered a small band of admirers before 9.30am. This is a new species for the site, but it wasn’t the only highlight. George Green found the 6th Merlin for Longham, a male, and also
saw Peregrine, these two among a very impressive total of 53 species seen by him. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler in the western corner of the Causeway again, while on the weed was a Ringed Plover among the 62 Lapwings. While it is easy to overlook commoner birds, Trevor Thorpe’s WEBS count of 656 Coots massively beats all other previous totals; there were also 114 Gadwall. Other more routine fare included 25 Greylag Geese, a Great Black-backed Gull, a small passage movement of Swallows, Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Linnets. A Stoat seen by Trevor was also highly notable, the first for a number of years, while there is also visible Mole activity by the Study Centre.
There was a Yellow-browed Warbler along the Causeway today (Matt). 63 Lapwings out on the mat of weed, with a good number of Wigeon and Shoveler. Plenty of Chiffchaff moving about but the best two birds were Kingfisher on North Lake and a Sparrowhawk flying across Hampreston Fields towards Green Lane (Martin Wood.)
In the early morning 2 Green Sandpipers were chasing around North Island and there was 1 Snipe, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Swallow (Lorne Bissell). Later on the Cattle Egret returned and there were 64 Lapwings resting on the weed (George Green.) During a brief ringing session 1520-1700 there were just 10 new birds – 7 Chiffchaffs and 3 Goldcrests, the latter all 1st-year males (Roger Peart.)
2 male Nathusius’s Pipistrelle bats were caught at Longham Bridge in the evening (Jan Freeborn.)
The Longham Lakes Open Day was a great event for all concerned – all the clubs associated with the Lakes, which are now run by the South-west Lakes Trust. Many thanks to all of you who attended, and thanks particular to George Green and Martin Wood for giving up their entire day to help. As it turned out, the birds themselves provided the chief objects of gratitude, not least a CATTLE EGRET which was only the third for the site (the second was last week) and provided decent, if distant views to most visitors. The eclectic supporting cast included lots of wildfowl, a Peregrine, showy Green Woodpeckers and a few Swallows.
Lots of variety around today, although no rarities. The most prominent highlight was an impressive increase in the number of wildfowl, with maximum counts of 59 Wigeon, 22 Shoveler and 10 Teal, along with many Gadwall, making it feel like winter. Another highlight was the presence of no less than 5 Ruffs flying around the site this morning, a record count for here, and in company with 18 Lapwings. Visible migration amounted to little, with a small number of Meadow Pipits, Swallows and House Martins; a flock of 40 or so Goldfinches was also about. Other oddments included a Stonechat, a Goldcrest, a Peregrine, a Snipe and the two first-year Moorhens (Dominic Couzens, Martin Wood).
Remarkably, YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER is now annual at Longham and the “first” definite record of the season was seen and heard today in the south-east corner of South Lake behind the bungalows, in the scrub. There were also 2 Ruff on the weed, but no sign of any Cattle Egrets (Lorne Bissell).
A pair of CATTLE EGRETS visited the weed briefly this morning (KD Johnson.) This is only the second record for the site (although others look likely this winter).
A busy day on-site. Firstly, Roger Peart had a short afternoon ringing session and caught new birds in the form of 26 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and 1 Goldcrest. There were als0 two re-trap Long-tailed Tits, one ringed in July this year the other in June 2015.
Meanwhile, Martin Wood found 2 Stonechats on Hampreston Fields, 1 Common Sandpiper still on the island; Ruff out on the mat of weed with the Lapwings . 1 Wheatear was a bonus, and still some Swallows, House Martin, 2 Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler. George Green counted the wildfowl and scored Gadwall at 100+, Wigeon 19 and Shoveler 16, all good counts for the time of year.
Had another evenings walk round South Lake. The Ruff were still out on the mat of weed with the Lapwings, and 1 Common Sandpiper was on the island. A number of Chiffchaffs moved along the willows, while a large group of Swallows came in from the north. Besides the Gadwall and a few Shoveler, it was Coot city (Martin Wood).
Dropped in to Longham this evening: still lots of House Martin and some Swallows over the lake. Scanned the mat of weed the normal number of 21 Lapwing and with a juvenile/female type Ruff. It was nice to watch C80 what I believe were Greylag Geese fly in from the North and over the two lakes going South (Martin Wood).
Today’s surprise in a memorable year came in the form of a very small wader on the floating weed. Despite the remarkable run of American waders that have graced Dorset this week, this one proved to be nothing more than a well marked juvenile Little Stint. Even so, it was a fantastic bird, and only the second after one in November and December last year. The supporting cast included enormous numbers of Hirundines, many of which were migrating very high overhead, together with a couple of Sparrowhawks, a late-ish Willow Warbler calling and a number of Meadow Pipits over west, including, coincidentally, two flocks of 16 birds (George Green, Lorne Bissell, Dominic Couzens, Marcus Lawson et al.)
A very brief ringing spell in windy conditions produced 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Robin (Roger Peart.)
To the disappointment of its potential suitors, the Grey Phalarope was gone this morning. Instead, the lake scene was one again dominated by aerial birds. Yet again there was a late Swift. This year has already beaten the previous latest record for Longham (8th Sept 2011). The rest of the birds – probably at least 1000 of them, were House Martins and Sand Martins (maybe 3:1), with very few Swallows at all. Otherwise, there was a Hobby around, a Snipe was on the island, the 4 Garganeys were found in the afternoon, there were at least 7 Shovelers and the usually gathering of weed-loving ducks, Coots and grebes. There were also still a few Reed Warblers about (Dominic Couzens, Martin Wood.)
I happened to scrutinise the Black-headed Gull flock on the weed this morning, scanning for something phalarope-like. Instead I noticed that, among the 131 individuals, they were all adults except for a single first-winter. Odd.
Longham’s remarkable year continues, this time with a GREY PHALAROPE on the South Lake (see above). Other goodies today included Ringed Plover, the 4 Garganeys, a Common Sandpiper , Hobby and a Swift (Lorne Bissell). The Phalarope is the second Longham record, the first being on 3rd September 2009.
The long staying 4 Garganey still present on the South Lake. In addition there was a large arrival of Willow/chiffs with at least 30 possibly 50 or more in among a large flock of small birds moving through the woods in the south-west corner of the site. This flock also included 2+ Spotted Flycatchers which is a scarce species at Longham. Finally a late Swift was present among large numbers of hirundines (George Green.) The flycatcher was Martin Wood’s 100th species at Longham this year. He also saw a Jay, and a Moorhen with 2 chicks on the pools to the south of the South Lake.
There were plenty of birds on-site today (I saw 56 species) but very few landbird migrants (apart from Hirundines) and little special on offer. That said, the 2 female-type Garganeys remain and are always a good birds to see. A Hobby made an appearance long enough to catch a Swallow and carry it off south, while there was also a Peregrine, and a Black-tailed Godwit flew over. There were a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, and the odd Sedge Warbler. There was, in a sense, a remarkable changing of the guard as far as aerial birds were concerned; while Sand Martins were dominant a few days ago, today the House Martins took over, greatly outnumbering their smaller relatives. For probably the last time this year, the aerial bird tally was completed, by the appearance of a single Swift. One of the more interesting other observations was a Moorhen chick on the Stour, as this species is not recorded breeding every year. Other bits and bobs included the first 4 Meadow Pipits of the autumn, at least 3 Grey Wagtails, a Teal and a few Shovelers (Dominic Couzens).
Quick look at Longham Lakes late pm produced the 4 Garganey showing well on the South Lake and a Wheatear (George Green). Meanwhile, an evening ringing session produced 28 Chiffchaffs, just one adult among them, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Blue Tits and one juvenile male Bullfinch, moulting into his pink breast. Also two retraps – a juvenile Chiffchaff first ringed in early July, so presumably one local bird still hanging around. The other was more interesting – an adult male Great Tit, which I had first ringed at Canford as a nestling in a brood of 5 in May last year. Good to see that he is doing well. Details below (Roger Peart).
TX57681 Nestling 20/05/16 Canford Park, Wimborne,
Recaptured 06/09/17 Longham Lakes, Dorset (3 km SE, 1 year 109 days)
A morning visit revealed large numbers of Hirundines flying low over the lakes, and perhaps surprisingly these were heavily dominated by Sand Martins, which are often tailing off by now. As ever they were all but impossible to count, but a tentative estimate of 350 birds is undoubtedly many fewer than were actually there. This, though, is the highest count ever on site, beating an estimate of 300 in bad weather in March 2010. There were also some Swallows and a handful of House Martins. Perhaps not surprisingly, a Hobby flew over. The Garganey total is back up to 4, along with a few Shovelers and very strong numbers of Gadwall. There was only a scattering of other migrants, including singles of both Reed and Sedge Warbler (Dominic Couzens).
Just two Garganey present. Otherwise little of note, but still good numbers of Gadwall (72+) and Little Grebe (50+) (George Green).
A better than average visit this morning with 3 Garganey, juvenile Ruff still on floating weed with 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Lapwing, and a Hobby briefly flying over Hampreston Meadows. Also good numbers of Little Grebe (44+) and Gadwall (43+ on North Lake+ others on south Lake). (George Green.) There were also notable numbers of Sand Martins about, with a minimum of 20, plus a few Shoveler and 2 Teal (Dominic Couzens.)
Three Garganey still present. They were mobile this pm being seen both on the South Lake and North Lake. Ringed Plover and Ruff reported on the floating weed this am. The Ruff was still present this pm but no sign of the Ringed Plover (George Green).