24 Nov 2015

23 Nov 15 - Hiding In The Fluffy Reed Mace

About once a year, Longham Lakes have provided me with a good excuse to desert Poole Harbour. In some years, it has been Dragonflies that have provided the distraction with my first Red-eyed Damselflies, Brown Hawkers & a Lesser Emperor, over recent years. In Dec 2011, it was my first Dorset Blue-winged Teal. This year, it was my first UK Penduline Tits since the Lytchett Bay Penduline Tit in Jan 1998. It is perhaps ironic that on the 22 Nov 15, Lytchett Bay Birder, Shaun Robson, had 2 Penduline Tits fly past him while doing a Vis Mig watch. They quickly disappeared out of view of his watchpoint & despite being looked for afterwards, could not be relocated. Later that afternoon, came the news they have been relocated at Longham Lakes. But with WeBS roost counts at dusk for Black-necked Grebes around Studland, there wasn't enough time for me to get over that afternoon & still do the dusk count. Frustratingly, Longham locals looked unsuccessfully for the Penduline Tits the following morning & I thought I was going to miss them. Fortunately, they were relocated early in the afternoon & were still on view when I arrived. They stayed around for about twenty minutes, doing their best to hide in the fluffy Reed Mace heads. Towards dusk they quietly disappeared to the Western side of the lake.
Penduline Tit: This was the brighter individual & looks like a male
Penduline Tit: When quietly feeding, they were quite unobtrustive & wouldn't be hard to overlook
Penduline Tit: The first individual
Penduline Tit: I was pleased to see the second individual join the first one
Penduline Tit: The second individual
Penduline Tit: The second individual. The grey forehead just touches the top of the bill which looks like this is a 1st Winter female
Penduline Tit: A final shot of the two. Soon afterwards they moved to the back of the pool, before heading off the Western side of the Southern lake. Presumably, looking for somewhere to roost
Longham Lakes were converted to fishing, recreational & wildlife lakes about six years ago. They are freshwater lakes next to the River Stour & despite being a relatively new Birding patch in Dorset, the lakes have already built up an impressive species list. One of the local Poole Harbour Birders, Steve Morrison, was involved in a lot of the early survey work on the site, prior to it being converted. Steve has recently told me that he had recommended retaining the area of small pools with the Reed Mace that the Penduline Tits were feeding in, for their wildlife. Clearly, a wise recommendation as this area has provided a restaurant to the 2013 Penduline Tit, as well as, these two. I will have to look for some feather duster covers to put on the South Haven Reed Mace!!!