The weekend from Friday 11th June promised to be a hot one and it certainly turned out to be that way. Rod’s niece, Elaine came for the weekend and we were hoping to spend some of the time bird watching. I was going to show her some local places where hopefully we would see a variety of birds. Elaine likes to record the sightings and I like to record with images so we were both looking at it from a different perspective. I was looking forward to taking some time and perhaps seeing birds that I might not have seen when just looking for a picture, so binoculars were essential to get that further reach.
Where to go, I was not sure as it was so hot and no self respecting bird would be active in the heat of the day, so early mornings and evening times were when we went out.
On the Friday evening we went to Martin Down, Elaine had seen on the Hampshire Bird News page that there had been sightings of a non-native Rose-coloured Starling. There have been a small number of sightings in the UK this year, their breeding range is the steppes, semi-deserts and deserts of Central Asia and Southeast Europe so a little off route from their home. I had seen sightings recorded on the Dorset Bird News site on the coast but thought no more of it. I knew Martin Down was a good place to go for birds anyway so late afternoon we headed there for a couple of hours and into the evening.
We had an idea where we might spot the bird so we headed that way, there was a small cluster of people in the track so guessed they were there for the same reason as us. They were a nice friendly bunch and soon we were chatting and watching the hedgerow with anticipation. The bird had been sighted that evening so we were hoping that we would spot it and sure enough he appeared, although at a fair distance, there was no mistaking the colouring it was definitely pink and black and we spent some time watching it in the hedgerow. I didn’t get any pictures at that time but it was great to see. Of course it wasn’t all about the Starling and below is a list of birds recorded by Elaine, which were quite a few! There was a few highlights for me particularly the Hobby he was hunting over the meadow close to where we were watching the Starling and appeared a few times as we were waiting, the colouring on him was stunning. The Cuckoo, we only heard but he was active and the Corn Bunting was through a Scope and quite distant. We spotted a Mistle Thrush in a bush, I haven’t seen one for many years, it was a beautiful bird. All in all a very successful evening.
We got up early on Saturday morning and headed to Bere Marsh hoping to see the Barn Owl, plenty of birds around but no show for the Owl, but that’s the nature of birdwatching, so home for breakfast and a day inside away from the heat, time for a good chat!
Late afternoon we decided to go to RSPB Arne, a different landscape form Martin Down so were were hoping to see something different, which we did, a few waders but many were at a distance, not good at all for me to take pictures. It wasn’t the best of evenings for sightings as it stayed very hot and we left around 7pm. We got nearly home around 8pm and I suggested we stop at Bere Marsh and walked along the Trailway, I hoped that perhaps we would see the Barn Owl coming out for his evening hunt. We were very patient and suddenly he was out of the Barn, unfortunately he was soon behind the hedge but we saw him several times in a short time bringing back Voles to the Barn, hopefully to young.
Sunday morning a slightly later start, I suggested we head for Okeford hill and get under cover in the woodland as again it was promising to be another scorcher. We crossed over to Bonsley woods and spent some time in the woodland, it was lovely under the canopy and the birds were singing and it was very enjoyable wandering the woods if a little difficult to spot birds, but we managed to see quite a number in the trees and we were lucky to see a family of Nuthatches that stayed around for a while. As we crossed back over the large arable field on the way back to the car park there were Skylarks, Yellowhammers, Whitethroat and Linnets so it was another successful trip out.
It was a good weekend even though it was very hot and Elaine said she had recorded sightings of 53 different species of birds in the three days, I didn’t take many pictures but really enjoyed concentrating on sighting all the different birds.