Wow, what a fantastic couple of days birding Gordon Duffus and myself had at Moor Green Lakes last week. On Wednesday 16th November, Gordon and Tony Clarke were looking across the New Workings, whilst I was counting the gulls, when I heard Tony say, "What's that bird on the conveyor belt", I carried on counting while Gordon looked at the bird and he suddenly said, "It's a BLACK REDSTART". I tore my eye away from my scope to look in the direction that they were looking, when Gordon informed us that it had flown down the far side of the gravel bank and that he did get a good view of the bird. All eyes were trained on the area where it had gone, but it wasn't seen again. So I missed it, the first BLACK REDSTART seen here since 1995, that will teach me to count gulls. On the next day, Thursday 17th November, Gordon and I were again at Moor Green hoping to catch another sighting of the BLACK REDSTART. I had arrived earlier than him and was looking across East Fen when I saw a SHORT EARED OWL flying towards the North side of the New Workings, where it landed out of sight. I thought that perhaps Gordon was going to miss it, but then saw him walking along the footpath towards me. I waved to him to come forward quickly, which he did. After a minute or so the SHORT EARED OWL took off after being disturbed by a Carrion Crow and then something happened that neither of us had seen before, the owl started to chase the crow as if it were annoyed at the crow for disturbing it. The owl chased the crow around the New Workings until they were at a fairly high altitude. The owl then gave up the chase and eventually landed behind the line of trees at Honey Field and unfortunately out of sight. We never had another sighting during the rest of the morning. This was the first SHORT EARED OWL seen here since last October, when Gordon and I were lucky enough to see and report that bird. Later on we were at the 'Grey Box' where the BLACK REDSTART was seen when Gordon said, "Can you look through my scope and confirm that this is a GREAT GREY SHRIKE", which I did and it was, sitting in the top of an oak tree from where it flew a short distance into the top of another oak tree. After some good views and a record shot taken by Gordon it flew West and out of our sight and was not found again. What a find, the first Great Grey Shrike reported since 1993. Also that morning we saw SPARROWHAWK, PEREGRINE, KESTREL, 60+ GOLDEN PLOVER and a GOOSANDER, not a bad days birding for Moor Green and one which we will probably find hard to equal.
A Glossy Ibis had been reported at Stanpit Marsh in Dorset, so early on Tuesday 8th November, 2011, Gordon Duffus and myself set off down the motorway to Christchurch. The weather was awful, low grey cloud and drizzle that lasted throughout most of the day. Light conditions for any photos that we took would be challenging to say the least. Our aim was to visit Stanpit Marsh, Hengistbury Head, Keyhaven and Pennington, so it was going to be pretty hectic. On arrival at Stanpit we parked the car and set off towards the information centre, a few minutes walk away. Looking across Christchurch Harbour, visibility was very poor. As we neared the information centre a dark coloured bird landed in the rough grass forty feet away from us, a GLOSSY IBIS, we couldn't believe our luck. We had a good look at it through our telescopes, but to get any sort of decent photograph we had to try to get nearer. So we began the slow walk towards the bird thinking that at any moment it would fly off, but it didn't, it fact we couldn't believe our luck because it was coming closer to us whilst it was occupied with feeding. It finished up not more than twenty feet away and was not perturbed by our presence. After twenty minutes or so of observing and photographing the bird we left it in peace feeding outside the information centre and continued birding. Later on we saw a KINGFISHER flying across a creek and then hover over the water before diving in after a fish. I have never seen them hover before, although I have read that they can and it was amazing to see the control that they had, much like Terns. Later that morning we went on to Hengistbury Head, a short distance away. The weather had not improved and by the time we had walked along the beach to the spot where the SNOW BUNTINGS had reportedly been seen we were very wet. We didn't care though,we were lucky to see three SNOW BUNTINGS, an apparent record number for the area, in the spot where they had been seen before. On the walk back to the car we had very good views of a male and female DARTFORD WARBLER sitting on top of a gorse bush. We sat in the car to eat our lunch before travelling to Keyhaven and noticed a large flock of STARLINGS on the grass and around the car. Some of them flew up and sat on the wing mirror and open window in the hope that we would share our food with them, which we did. They were so tame that they would sit on Gordon's hand and eat food from it. By the time we arrived at Keyhaven/Pennington we realised that we would not have long for birding before it got dark. We managed to see most of the usual Ducks and Waders that are present at this time of year, including some PINTAIL which are my favourite duck, beautiful colours on the male and so regal looking. By the time we reached Pennington Lane it was getting dark, so we made our way back to the car and home. Although the weather had been dismal all day, the birds that we had seen more than made up for it.
Hi, I'm Roger Milligan. I have been interested in birds since I was a boy growing up in south east London, which was a long time ago. I now live in Farnborough, Hampshire.