Wednesday, 5 July 2017

New Forest

Saturday 1st - Sunday 2nd July, 2017.
The New Forest.
Saturday
We dropped our boys at school at 06.00 to board a bus to Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg on a music tour. Then we headed down to the New Forest for a weekend away without the kids for the first time in many years!

We started at Acres Down where we had really excellent views of Goshawk and spent several hours in the company of Rob Clements who appeared out of the woods on the viewpoint much like he did a couple of years ago when I found a Black-eared Wheatear here!
No such megas today but Honey Buzzard, Hobby, Raven, Hawfinch, Tree Pipit and Woodlark were the highlights of a very productive 5 hours. A couple of Wood Warblers were still singing along the bottom path from the car park early morning but as you might expect most song has finished and birds were largely feeding young.
It was mid-afternoon and getting very warm by the time we left Acres Down and we drove leisurely around The Forest for a couple of hours stopping occasionally before checking into our hotel in Lyndhurst.
Late afternoon we headed down to Beaulieu via Denny Wood (lots of Redstarts) and across Beaulieu Heath to Bucklers Hard before finding a pub in East Boldre, the Turfcutters Arms, for dinner. It was a perfect summers evening and after eating in the pubs garden we drove the short distance to Beaulieu Heath and wandered until dark and the Nightjars started churring.

Sunday
It was to prove even sunnier and hotter today and bird activity quickly diminished. We walked a circuit from Beaulieu Road station to Denny Wood via a series of bogs, a walk I've done many times before over the years. Being high-summer it was fairly quiet but Redshank and Lapwing both had young and there were plenty of Redstart about. There were hundreds of Silver-studded Blue butterflies on the wing and I spent a good while trying to photograph them. We also had Keeled Skimmers and a number of common damselflies and other dragonflies.
Early afternoon we wandered along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive in the cool shade of the huge Douglas Firs and explored the arboretum. A Spotted Flycatcher and several Firecrest were added to the weekends list.
To finish we went to Fritham and walked across the plain in the late afternoon. Woodlark and Dartford Warblers were the highlights and once again walk a few hundred yards from a car park and you have the place to yourself.


Acres Down

Acres Down

Stonechat

Denny Wood


Beaulieu Road


Beaulieu Road

Beaulieu Road

Beaulieu Road

Fallow Deer

Silver-studded Blue


Silver-studded Blues



Keeled Skimmer






Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

Douglas Fir c125 years old

Fritham Plain


New Forest ponies on Fritham Common

























Friday, 30 June 2017

Bempton Cliffs.

Sunday 25th June, 2017.
Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire.


After yesterdays visit to the Farne Islands we made it a seabird weekend with an afternoon visit to Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve. It's a fabulous place that I never tire of and the sight and sound of tens of thousands of seabirds just beside a grassy cliff-top path is amazing.
There seem to be more Gannets than ever and the views are superb as they glide by just a few metres away. The weather was good and it was a lot calmer than Saturday. We stayed into the early evening and only just made it home before midnight.



Bempton Cliffs

Gannets

Gannets breeding at high density

Gannets.......lots of young

Gannet

Gannet .... some sub-adults present

Gannet

Gannet

Gannet ...a very smart adult on the cliff top

Fulmar

Puffin

Puffins

Guillemot

Guillemots
Tree Sparrow

Razorbills



Whitethroat - adult and juvenile


Monday, 26 June 2017

Farne Islands

Saturday 24th June, 2017.
Farne Islands, Northumberland.


We love the Farnes but squeezing in  a visit in a weekend from Kent is a bit of an expedition and the weather can always confound you, but when you're finally standing on an island surrounded by seabirds it all seems worth it.
We left home Friday evening, stayed overnight at Scotch Corner and arrived at Seahouses, gateway to the Farnes, at 09.00 only to be told our all-day birdwatching "cruise" was delayed until late morning owing to the westerly wind and would not be landing on Staple, just Inner Farne. The good news was that we'd get 4 hours on Inner Farne instead of 2.
With plenty of time to spare we had breakfast on the quay and then explored the coast around Seahouses for a couple of hours before joining the queue for the boat.
I guess it was only having the one island to land on and probably tidal conditions restricting when you could land but I've never seen so many people on Inner Farne and the number of little boats bobbing about offshore made it look a bit like a remake of Dunkirk!
It was a marvellous afternoon and I'm not sure I'd ever get bored on watching seabirds. The boys loved it too despite the Arctic Terns being especially violent at times.
Late afternoon saw many of the visitors take early boats and it quietened down a bit.
As we waited to depart a single Roseate Tern sat on the rocks near the quay.
Fabulous place, great day.



The Farne Islands from Seahouses

Seahouses, Northumberland.

Eider

Eider

Eider

Inner Farne





Razorbill & Guillemots



Grey Seals

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Inner Farne


Arctic Tern


Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

the Arctic's were quite territorial today as most had large chicks.







Puffins








Razorbill







Guillemot



Rock Pipit - odd prey item!


Shag



Mallard

Black-headed Gull