30th August 2011 â€“ The New Forest and Normandy Marsh, Hampshire
I picked up my clients, a South African lady and her aunt from their house in North-west London at 6am and we headed out to the New Forest in Hampshire for the day. We arrived at the Beaulieu Road area before 8am and stared looking around the trees in the car-park. Here we found a lot of Coal Tit, many which were keeping high in the canopy and therefore tricky to get good views of, but a family of Goldcrest was much more obliging, staying low in the trees. There were also a number of Willow Warbler flitting between the trees and a Great Spotted Woodpecker (one of many seen at this site) flew up into an open tree affording good views and photo opportunities.
The walk across the open heathland to Denny Wood was a little disappointing but we did see Common Stonechat, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker and a number of House Martin were obvious above the railway line and nearby hotel. We also saw a Grey Heron flying past towards one of the boggy areas that are typical of low heathland.
The woodland edge was much more productive with European Robin, Blue Tit, several more Willow Warblers, Common Treecreeper and a couple of Spotted Flycatcher, whilst we also heard European Nuthatch and Common Redstart, but couldnâ€™t locate them. We skirted the woodland before going into it where we heard a flock of Eurasian Siskin (that again refused to be seen) but a flock of at least 15 Common Crossbill flew over giving their characteristic flight calls and several more Goldcrest were heard in the dense foliage.
On getting out into an area of scattered trees we found a juvenile Common Redstart that performed well, sitting still on an open branch for several minutes as well as yet more Willow Warbler and at least two families of Spotted Flycatcher living up to their name as they dashed between trees feeding. We could also hear a young Common Buzzard â€śmewingâ€ť from another area of woodland, but its parents didnâ€™t want to be seen, so it joined our growing list of â€śheardsâ€ť, as did Mistle Thrush and Green Woodpecker.
On the way beck to the car the temperature had risen, so more insects were on the wing, especially over the bog areas, allowing the House Martins and Barn Swallows the opportunity to feed low down and thus give us better views,
After a pit-stop in Lymington for coffee, we headed onto Normandy Marsh, a coastal lagoon opposite the Isle of Wight. This site was heaving with birds â€“ the lagoon itself held a variety of shorebirds, including Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Pied Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, (Greater) Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing and Dunlin and we had a flyover Common Sandpiper, whilst the offshore â€śislandsâ€ť held a number of roosting Grey (Black-bellied) Plover and Eurasian Curlew. Other waterfowl were represented by Common Teal, a number of Little Grebe andLittle Egret and there were a number of Black-headed and Herring Gull present as well as a large flock of Canada Goose which held a solitary Greylag Goose. A female Peregrine was sitting on her â€śfavouriteâ€ť perch our in the estuary and there were several Great Cormorant. Despite the watery theme, there were also a number of passerines at the site including a juvenile Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Common Whitethroat and Pied Wagtail, but the flock of Yellow Wagtail that had been seen by another birder earlier had obviously moved on. Most of the waders were fairly jumpy and the reason became clear when a large female Eurasian Sparrowhawk came flying in and settled on one of the lagoons Islands giving excellent views before she sailed off â€śempty-talonedâ€ť (much to the relief of the smaller waders) over towards the other lagoons that lie further west.
We then headed back into the Forest for a late picnic lunch (kindly donated by my clients) where we found some more Meadow Pipit, Common Stonechat and Willow Warbler, but sadly not the hoped for Hobby, before returning back to London having recoded 63 species during our trip of which 34 were â€ślifersâ€ť for my clients.
The birds of the trip were European Robin and Common Treecreeper for my client, Peregrine (a long-hoped for species) for her aunt and Spotted Flycatcher for me, simply because that are great birds and are getting harder to find around London due to their recent population demise.