28 Feb 2015

28 Feb 15 - February: The Monochrome Month

Well, February was always going to be a tough month around the Studland/Ballard patch. After the stunning start to the year in January, then there was little in the way of potential new Year Ticks for the patch. Just a small chance that something would turn up as the Winter wore on, unless there was a cold, snowy snap to bring a few Birds in. But that didn't happen. But the arrival of a lone Coot meant the patch Year List didn't stand still. This one new Year Tick brings me up to 124 BOU species for the year, ignoring Crap Pigeon (Columba trafalgarsquarensis).
Coot: I was really pleased to add this now tricky species to the patch Year List (21 Feb 15)
The best species for February was easily the Great Grey Shrike which I saw distantly on the 14 Feb and really well on the 21 Jan at South Haven. A real delight as it allowed me to carefully walk up to about 20 metres to it on the latter occasion.
Great Grey Shrike: I've not got this close to a Great Grey Shrike before. There are more photos here (21 Feb 15)
I've spent a lot of time at weekends in Brands Bay looking through the Waders & Wildfowl as this was my best chances of a second patch trip. But unfortunately, no joy. But it has been filled with Birds on most visits on the low or rising tides. It is great that after a frustrating January with more shooting in the bay than I've ever seen in the last 17 years, to get to February & have no further shooting taking place. Whilst the shooters showed little understanding of basic fieldcraft & didn't seem to hit anything, they were responsible for up to 3000 Birds being disturbed off feeding grounds with most leaving the bay completely. Given this is one of the most important feeding areas in Poole Harbour for both groups, then it is incredibly selfish to the Birds. On a more positive note, there have been good numbers of tricky species in Brands Bay this Winter. In previous years, I've only seen Spoonbills on a couple of days a year feeding in the bay. February continued where January left off with one or two Spoonbills on most visits. This year has seen a new feeding record of six Spoonbills for Brands Bay on 20 Jan 15. While it doesn't match the regular recent Arne roost counts of around the mid thirties, it is really a noteworthy Studland record.
Spoonbill: The month finished off with two 1st Winter Spoonbills feeding in the Bay today
Spoonbill: Number two
It was all a bit surreal walking into the Brands Bay hide. Immediately, on arrival I saw the two Spoonbills feeding in the near channel. Looking further towards the mouth of the channel was the Great White Egret.
Great White Egret
This is the first time I've seen it in Brands Bay this year, although I've seen in on Littlesea or the Eastern Lake on a few occasions. Something I wouldn't have predicted a year ago that I would have been totally unsurprised to find Spoonbills & a Great White Egret in the bay on my arrival. How times have changed. The Great White Egret wasn't happy with the Spoonbills & flew closer to them several times in what appeared to be an attempt to move them on. When this failed, the Great White Egret headed off, presumably towards Littlesea.
Great White Egret: It didn't like the Spoonbills. It is just possible to see the buff edges to the secondary coverts on the right wing confirming this is the first of the GWEs that turned up in the Autumn. The latter didn't stay around for more than a few weeks before moving on
Finally, whilst it was all monochrome on the Bird front this month, at least there was a touch of colour from the Butterflies: with the second species for the year appearing & posing for photos.
Red Admiral: (8 February 15)
Hopefully, there will be more colourful Passerines in March with the arrival of the first Spring migrants.