Friday, June 10, 2016

Dorset trip 8-9 June

Another trip to Weymouth. First an opportunity to enjoy some traditional southern habitat on a sun-drenched Wednesday. By mid-day I was with a small group at Acres Down looking over the woods towards Bolderwood. The sky was clear, but a scan revealed a bird in a distant tree. It was clearly an Accipiter, and quite a fat one at that. Eventually it flew off and it was clearly a Goshawk, probably a female.

By that time the heat was building and Buzzards were beginning to appear in the distance. At one point we had about 4 in the air, and there was a certain amount of confusion as people would be looking at different birds. I was quite out of my depth here, and the locals clearly had much more experience. They called out some likely candidate Honey Buzzards, and when they departed a couple of hours later they were happy they had seen at least two. The key features being:

  • long tail, small slightly extended head.
  • pinched in base to the wing.
  • Flight with wings low, sometimes almost kite-like in the appearance as they glided.
  • Corkscrew display
After they had left I went further over to the more traditional watch point and chatted to a local who had been watching over the same area. They had a few Goshawks and a possible Honey buzzard but all the near ones were Common Buzzards. The second local said they don't lift their wings above the horizontal, and flap down from the elbow. The wing-clapping behind the back is diagnostic as it is only done by Honey Buzzard. Well what's a relative novice like myself to think? Perhaps I will have to visit slightly earlier in the season next year.

There were Stonechats aplenty, and in the woods Nuthatches, Coal tits and Treecreeper, but the stand-out species but far was Firecrest. From the off Firecrest song was heard all over, perhaps no surprise given that holly bushes and holly trees were everywhere. I saw 4 birds without too much difficulty, males singing in trees, but there were clearly many more. The rise in the Firecrest population is quite marked, and one I will return to in a future post.

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