Woodlarks at Arne

I'm currently very fortunate to be volunteering full time with the RSPB Dorset Estates team, I love every minute of it and the support I'm getting to forge my path into conservation is immense, I will be eternally grateful to all of my co-workers for this!

One of the major upsides to this is where I get to work, our base is RSPB Arne and it's great to be back, some of us have been having a little bit of a year list challenge which has seen us surveying for species that haven't been seen at Arne for a few years like Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Tit. I managed to see the former back in January without even looking but the latter is proving more difficult. On a nice foray for LSW last week we picked up some nice species such as Common Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll and Woodlark, the woodpeckers however weren't playing ball.

Woodlark (Portland 2014)

Being such a beautiful morning we were hoping the Woodlarks on Hydes Heath would be displaying and luckily, we weren't wrong! It was also beautifully still which allowed for some sound recording. I hope later today to post a video on how I processed these recordings in part 2 of my nocturnal series. 

The great parrot hunt...

When I first set up a blog the intention was always to help improve how I write, at the time it helped me write more than three words, some of them even ended up making sense. Moving on to what is now 5 years on and the difference now is even though I could write something, my blog rarely gets an update and I sit staring at a blank page wondering what on earth I'm going to write, then today happened and my fingers started tapping the keys!

November, December and the early part of January were filled with lots of birding, strange recces mapping sites for the January bird race, it also coincided with an odd obsession developing with Crossbills, this mainly down to the developing influx of Parrot Crossbills first into the Northern Isles and latterly with small flocks turning up at favored sites for Common Crossbill. I certainly had no expectation to discover anything new, it's all be done before and very well I might add by the Sound Approach. With a love for sound recording blooming I decided it was time to look for some of the different types of Crossbill described in Dutch Birding and The Sound Approach to birding (one of my favorite books I should add) 

The biggest task this winter has actually been finding Crossbills, I've bumped into various small flocks here and there in Dorset - agonizingly I missed the biggest flock found over in Wareham Forest by Ian Ballam, a little bit of free time over the next few days may see me venture that way again! 

Eventually though I tracked a few birds down and although I didn't find any Parrots I've so far encountered different Common Crossbill types; Phantom (Type D) Wandering (Type A) and Glip (Type C) The most frequently seen so far has been Phantom but in such a poor year for Crossbills I'm sure this means nothing. Below are some of the recordings I made at a site in Wareham Forest.

A lot more work and a lot more to learn but it's been fascinating to take apart a species and find such variety in it by using sound, it's also been great to record something I can actually see! More on this and a few other bits over the next few weeks, hopefully with a few more recordings and photos.

Nocturnal Recording demo videos

After receiving loads of emails on how do I do it, I've put together a couple of videos to answer some of the questions, they're a bit crude but hopefully cover all the basics you need to know if you want to start nocturnal recording. I certainly will never say I've mastered this as I learn something new nearly every time, this should however help out anyone new.

I've also got Nick Hopper and Paul Morton to thank for their help when I started doing this, helping unlock an entirely undiscovered way of birding!

I warn you though, it's addictive!

Spring part 2

Ignoring the fact that I merely twitched all of the good birds I saw in spring, it was tremendous, only 9 days into May and Portland had landed not only a 1st for Dorset but a 9th for Britain. Spectacled Warbler had sat somewhere in the mythical but will probably turn up one day category for years, every spring rings the same and on at least one day of the season one will be talked up as long overdue. The difficult bit was going to be where and when...

A Few days prior to this a 1s Male Red-footed Falcon graced the bill 

Two Days before that saw the discovery of a singing Dusky Warbler in Top fields!

A Singing Wood Warbler was also discovered, a weird day.

Fast Forward a few weeks, back to work and everything was quiet, then this started singing at Lodmoor! 

2 days later, by pure luck I switched my day off, walked onto the obs patio and jammed into this beaut!

Sat here now in the latter half of June planning autumn birding, spring seems such a long time ago, that said, this one will take a lot of beating! 

An update... at last!

Whether it's sheer laziness or just a lack of ability to string a few words together for a blogpost I don't know but I've neglected my poor blog for over 6 months now. It's already been quite a busy spring and I've been lucky enough to jam in on some serious falls of birds, of which writing about should have been easy, I was excited enough! Working full time on a PC has got a lot to answer for, who wants to come home and look at a screen for several more hours, not me.

The spring so far in picture and sounds...

Caspian Gull at Radipole, Self found and long awaited Dorset tick

Spotted Redshank at Radipole, Site tick and a great patch bird in the spring.

Little Ringed Plover at Lodmoor, good numbers of these passed through in March

Velvet Scoters - Always exciting 

Black-tailed Godwits at Radipole, Cos' I like the pic

Red-rumped Swallow at Radipole, after a couple of tries this bird finally showed really well for me!

Barwits and Whimbrel off the Chesil, still early but seawatching has been good

Some nice spring Migrants from Portland, Fieldfare, Wheatear and Whinchat.