21 Apr 2014

21 April 14 - Brands Bay

The title of this blog is Birding Poole Harbour and Beyond. Well there has been plenty of Birding & Beyond, but surprisingly little of Poole Harbour so far. So guess I had better start addressing that. One of my favourite sites in Poole Harbour is Brands Bay, Studland. This is split into the inner bay, which has a bird hide & the outer bay where the bay extends into the direction of the Brownsea channel. A recent visit on the rising tide confirmed that the typical Spring migrants were around.
Brands Bay: About half tide. Thanks to the panorama function on the iphone
Brands Bay: Looking towards Redhorn Quay (the sandy spit), with Brownsea Island in the background (on the right hand side)
Brands Bay: Looking left. Some great mud areas which are popular on the rising & falling tides for the Waders & Wildfowl & marshes for them to hide in at high tide
Shelduck: Male as it has a knob on at the base of it's bill (you can do the obvious jokes)
Shelduck: Some breeding locally, but there always seem to be a lot more that don't breed given how few young I see in Brands Bay out of the 190 or so present today. As the tide rises they congregate in this grassy area to rest & display
Oystercatcher: Adult as it has jet black plumage. Up to about 50 can be found in the bay in the winter, but numbers are down to about 10 non-breeders at that moment
Oystercatcher: The brownish flight feathers indicates this is a 1st Summer bird
Black-tailed Godwit: Icelandic birds arrive in the Autumn with wintering numbers in Poole Harbour around 3000 or more birds. Then at the start of Jan they disappear en mass to the Avon Valley to feed on the flood plains before returning a few weeks later. The last leave for Iceland around the second half of May. Apparently, moving to the Avon Valley seems to be a good strategy as they have a longer lifespan than the East Anglian birds, which stay on the mudflats throughout the winter. There was an excellent documentary on Radio 4 on this last year, featuring an old mate of mine from Portsmouth, Pete Potts, who has been heavily involved in ringing studies on Blackwits for many years
Whimbrel: There are normally a few in Brands Bay during the Spring & Autumn passage periods. The crown stripe and distinctive call give them away
Whimbrel: The short bill is another good identification feature. But at longer range, the darker overall look and short legs are also good features to pick them out (when you are too far to see the crown stripe)
Yellow-legged Gull: Adult. An erratic visitor to Brands Bay, given how frequent they are at Middlebere & around Poole
Yellow-legged Gull: Adult. Every few minutes it jumped up half out of the water, before plunging in after some food. A great opportunity to photograph the reduced white mirrors in the wingtips (compared to Herring Gulls) 
Yellow-legged Gull: Adult. Another view of the wing pattern
Raven: One of the local Ravens flew through the bay
Raven: But it got some significant hassle from one of the local Carrion Crows, which had only just seen off a Buzzard over the nearby Greenlands Farm