Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A BIT OF A ROUND UP: Darford Warbler,Stonechat and Swallows

I haven't done too much birding in the last couple of weeks, thanks to work, though thanks to work I've had two consecutive shifts working in and around Hampshire. Sadly I don't like driving around Hampshire.....it should be explored on foot and every time I drive through (especially the New Forest) I pray to the driving gods for my lorry to breakdown, never does though, I even mark Points of Interest on my Sat-Nav as I drive past a tempting looking bit of a habitat and there is plenty and as always I tried with some luck to get my tacho breaks in some areas that looked good, so the images come from these tacho breaks.
However I did get some birding in between my shift patterns here's how and what:
EASTFIELD PARK SPARROWHAWK: Just two juveniles have fledged the nest which given the weather and early attempts by someone to climb the original nesting tree is quite good. I'm a bit mixed with my emotions when I hear the female and juveniles begging for food as it's starting to draw some attention from the park's other users, so far it's been mostly good....
EASTFIELD PARK TAWNY OWL: Despite it's very urban surroundings we've always had a Tawny Owl on the park, this February it was rather quiet from the pair with no sightings of owlsnor non being heard calling, the friends I have who's house back onto the "wood" section of the park were also worried about the lack of owl's calling. In the past we've had Tawnys on the roofs, lamp-posts and even the odd satellite dish. So with the awful winter I thought we had lost "our" Tawnys. However the last two nights there has been a single juvenile Tawny calling for food, a very distinct call that once heard never forgotten. Normally by now the juves have left the nest so this either a second brood attempt (or first given the lousy weather, if that makes sense) and it's only a single juvenile...I think! I say that because despite it only being a small wooded section in all my years living hear I've never been able to locate the nest site during "normal" hours.
LOSS OF JERSEY'S CIRL BUNTINGS?: Regular readers of this blog will know of my fondness of Jersey and my joy of seeing Cirl buntings on the island, they only have two breeding birds that had been absent from the island for a long time. Subsequently when I was shown where they were I was pleased just to get views, I could've got nearer and got photo's but the cautious side of me and the fact they hadn't been there a long time made me stay a safe "viewable distance". Sadly there nesting site was subject to a fire, which is currently being investigated by the Island's fire brigade. Sadly neither bird has been since the fire (well over a week), so I think they have either perished in the fire or deserted the site, either way it doesn't look good...fingers crossed!
So what did I get from my two shift patterns in Hampshire, well one delivery (boss doesn't like me saying the firms so I can't) was at an interesting Country Park (some playground equipment) after unloading I needed the toilet and was pointed in the direction of a small converted barn, interesting toilets I thought, even more so when a swallow "whished" past my head and up to a nest on the exposed beams, three juveniles beaming down at me...different I thought (I think the toilets description may have given away the Country Park's name for anyone who lives in Hampshire). I even broke the cardinal "urinal" rule, as I stood there I heard the juveniles call out followed by a woman scream "arrgggh a bat", followed by another woman who said "no they're swallows", I chuckled to myself and the bloke next to me quickly zipped up and left, I forgot and in case any other blokes forget the "rules of the urinal" are, approach, unzip, spit,cough,zip back up, wash, leave, NO LAUGHING, NO EYE CONTACT AND NO TALKING....ooops! Before leaving I got a dubious flight shot and a "not too bad" portrait, I didn't think it was advisable to get images from inside the toilet, wouldn't have gone down well.

As I went back to my lorry a Country Park worker remarked how surprised he was to see a "trucker" into wildlife, really? I know plenty who don't count themselves as "birders" but will often say "Seen a Buzzard/Kite/Kestrel" etc. I think there's a connection between slow moving vehicle and hours of talking to no-one leads the mind and eyes to wander. Those two images were from the last shift pattern, the previous shift pattern I managed to get into a layby by the side of a dual carriage way, there was a flight of steps that lead up an embankment and onto a heath. I instantly saw a Stonechat and decided to follow it (here comes a silly tip) as when I do I always stumble across a Dartford Warbler (if they're present), the Stonechat I got near to but exposed it all wrong it wasn't that black, sadly the Dartford Watbler had a lot of gorse between me and it and I wasn't going to trample through it in case the nest was nearby so I got a dodgy record shot, I was just pleased to see it.

One day I will visit Hampshire with my birding hat on rather then my driving sunglasses it has some fantastic looking habitats, even this heath by the side of the dual carriage way had Buzzards, Kestrels, Hobbies etc...just wish every time I do visit I'm just passing through:(


  1. An excellent read and the last image of the dartford warbler is fine.

    1. Thanks Adrian, I just wish the Dartford Warbler would be more closer

    2. So do I and sometimes I wish I didn't go birding with the dogs,. We get what we can which in my case is precious little so it's good to see proper birders work.

  2. Looks like you've had a busy week Douglas? It's a shame your journeys are ruled by the tacho, although it seems that you did manage to 'outwit' it a couple of times!

    You had a lucky escape in the toilet!...laughing whilst at the urinal could have gotten you into oh so many difficult situations!

    Great shots of the Swallows and as for the 'record shot' of the Dartford Warbler...I'd be happy just to see one and if I could get a shot like that, I'd be over the moon!!...[;o)

    1. Thanks Trevor,Given that my boss "might" be reading this, I won't divulge how to outwit a tacho and get your tacho breaks close to where you want them lol
      I know what you mean about the toliet situation too, could be awkward lol

  3. It is great that your job allows you to see areas which you can note down and visit when you aren't working! I'm glad the other woman redeemed the awful bat comment! When I went to skomer a couple of years ago there were swallows nesting in the toilets there too. Birds do find some questionable places to raise their young don't they! Great photos :) and fab that you saw a dartford warbler! So distinctive!

    1. Thanks Lou, it is funny where some birds raise their young I've seen some odd places in the past, like a Pied Wagtail at Ruland nesting directly under the Osprey nest (quite a few years ago that one)

  4. Never seen a Dartford, Doug, although I think I might have had a glimpse of one at Arne in Dorset. I would, therefore, have been over the moon if I'd taken that Dartford image. Well done!

    Some lovely images, including the mental one of the startled guy in the loos!

  5. I have this theory with Dartford's and Stonechats, I always locate a Stonechat first and follow it as it goes around hunting, if a Dartford is nearby it'll reveal itself to warn the stonechat...pure theory but seems to work for me.
    Poor bloke in the toilet lol