Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hampshire Birding and a Colour-ringed Mute Swan - February 2014

Today I headed out to the west of Hampshire for a spot of local birding. I started at Lepe with a view to catching up with the long staying Lesser Yellowlegs, and decided to head on from there as news of other birds broke. I arrived at Lepe just as news came through that the Lesser legs was still there, which was a good start. As I arrived at the usual pool there was no sign of the bird, but a couple of redshank, five dunlin, a black-tailed godwit and a Mediterranean Gull kept me entertained for a while. I continued to scan and eventually found the Lesser legs at the back of the scrape, in amongst some dense vegetation. Spurred on by my success I next headed across the road in search of Firecrests. I had seen a couple of birds here back in the autumn when the Lesser legs had first turned up, but I had no luck today.

My next stop was Beaulieu Road Station, a regular site for wintering Great Grey Shrike. One had been reported yesterday, 1st February, in the area so I walked out to the railway bridge, as it was the highest point on the heath, and therefore the best place to scan from. Unfortunately, I did not find the shrike, but did get some good views of three Dartford Warblers, my first of the year.

Next stop was Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trusts Blashford Lakes reserve where a ‘redhead’ Smew had recently been reported. After a brief stop at Ibsley water I headed to Ivy Lake, where the bird had been seen earlier in the morning.  But rather than heading for the North Hide, which I suspected would be crammed with birders hopeful of a view of a Bittern, I headed to the west of the lake and the viewing screens. The northern screen was no good as the afternoon sun made silhouettes of the birds so I headed for the southern screen. The light was much better here and within a couple of minutes I had picked up the Smew, but sadly the recently reported Red-crested Pochard eluded me.

Mute Swans at the Avon Causeway

I decided to head home after Blashford, but on the way had a quick stop at the Avon causeway. The whole area was flooded and the water was still flowing over the road making it virtually impassible. I stopped and started to scan the area; a couple of Stonechats were new for the year and then I picked up a colour-ringed Mute Swan. The bird had an orange coloured ring on its left tarsus, with the black lettering ‘S2L’. Having recorded several colour-ringed swans in recent years I suspect that this bird was ringed by Dave Stone in Christchurch Harbour during the annual Mute Swan round up, but the question is how long ago....?

Adult Mute Swan with Colour Ring
Orange Colour Ring on Mute Swan

......I will keep you posted!

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