You never know what might turn up

Well last week was a rather busy affair with much going on and little time to report it. First thing of significance was finally setting eyes on the Osprey in the harbour. Reports had told us there had been one or maybe two in the area for a week or so and I was desperate to see it. On Wednesday I was running a little late after herding cows at hook heath. I must have turned up on the marsh at 4.30pm and could clearly see a large bird sitting in the trees of North Binness island. After seeing an Osprey there last year with Bob I knew something of this size could only be one thing. I spend a good half an hour with the scope on it in awe. Here is my best attempt at a digiscope photo. The heat haze was playing havoc with the quality but heres a record shot none the less.

Osprey (North Binness island, Langstone Harbour)

Osprey (North Binness island, Langstone Harbour)

Thursday the Beechcroft volunteers cracked on with the final sections of fencing at Upper Titchfield Haven. With the help of the council rangers and volunteer teams we have now completed the majority of the fencing with only a cattle holding pen and a little bit of fencing to finish off. A fantastic effort by all!

Friday Steve and I were joined by a volunteer group from NATS at Swanwick. Our task was to rake up the cut grass in Flat Meadow. Its an important job to emulate a hay cut, thus reducing nutrients and increasing biodiversity, as mentioned in the previous blog. They did a great job, raking up at least two thirds of the field, which is no mean feat. Hopefully next year flat meadow will be even more vibrant with wildflowers, grasses, crickets and butterflies.

NATS Volunteers raking flat meadow

NATS Volunteers raking flat meadow

While we were moving the piles of cut grass we disturbed this rather fresh looking Small Copper, which was rather a treat as I’ve not seen many of these this year.

Small Copper

Small Copper

Saturday started bright and early – 6am at Titchfield Haven, ready for some bird ringing. After the previous weekends 300 bird catch I was pretty excited but I dont think anyone could have expected what we caught in one of the mist nets. Lots of migrants are clearly on the move now and the reedbed was alive with the sound of birds, quickly they started to come in. Warblers (Grasshopper, Reed, Garden and Sedge) were all abundant but then a strange looking Grasshopper warbler came in. All the ringers started to get excited when things didn’t quite add up. After comparing measurements and observations with books and iphone apps it quickly become apparent we had a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler! This is an extremely rare Siberian vagrant, only recorded in the upper parts of the UK, such as Fair isle and Shetland. As it breeds in central parts of Asia, Mongolia and further east it rarely comes to our shores. If this record is accepted it will a first for Hampshire. A truly fantastic find!

Pallas Grasshopper Warbler - Titchfield Haven Sept 2014

Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler – Titchfield Haven Sept 2014

Pallas Grasshopper Warbler - Titchfield Haven Sept 2014

Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler – Titchfield Haven Sept 2014

After all that excitement we had lots of other stunning birds including; Whitethroat, Redstart, Blackcap, Bullfinch & 3 Kingfishers. Overall we caught and ringed 244 birds in the morning session, most of which are on their annual migration to warmer climes further south.

Juvenile female Kingfisher

Juvenile female Kingfisher

Trio of Kingfisher

Trio of Kingfisher – comparing the different colour in sexes

Redstart

Redstart

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