Monday, 14 March 2011

Hoopoe and Eagle

With the fine weather and the prospect of early migrants we had pretty much decided on Friday that Sunday would be spent at Portland-we had had a good time last March so figured it would be worth the drive. Knowing a Hoopoe was present made it definite.
The dull drizzle as we drove past Southampton was a bit worrying but we hit sunshine soon after and the weather turned out really well for us.
We arrived at the Bill just after nine and bumped into some birders I knew and was told that the Hoopoe was some way along the cliffs east of the light. Bit of a walk out past the beach huts but we eventually found it. It proved very flighty but by waiting by the coast path i eventually got a few good images.

I was on the lookout for migrants while we were searching, particularly as there were a lot of alba Wagtails reported-strange that my first was a Grey Wagtail flying in off the sea. Found plenty of Pied, but failed to locate any White. Also present of course were Rock and Meadow Pipits. The open areas held a large number of Wheatears as well.
Searching the quarry south of the Lower Admiralty failed to locate any of the Black Redstarts so we went to the cliffs to look at the sea birds. A few Gannets went past, as well as numerous Fulmar and Kittiwakes. Auks were abundant, flying out from the cliffs, and Colin eventually found a Puffin among them. I had to wait a while but eventually one flew out and sat on the sea-the greyish head and dull bill was a bit disappointing as mine had yet to acquire full breeding plumage.
 Despite being very busy at the Bill we eventually found a small flock of Turnstone and Purple Sandpipers on the rocks.

 A quick stop at the Fleet produced a single Mediterranean Gull before we called in at Radipole. The sleeping Hooded Merganser was seen from the bridge and I spent some time getting images of the ducks, grebes and flying gulls while Colin photographed it. The walk around the reserve did not produce much apart from a Small Tortoiseshell.
 We had planned on visiting the New Forest but decided to go to Old Basing and see if the White Tailed Eagle would show and we arrived mid afternoon. The small crowd informed us that we had just missed it some way away. A couple of rather pale Buzzards proved interesting while we waited, but after about an hour I noticed a commotion above the distant trees and realised that corvids were mobbing something big. Even at nearly a mile it was clearly the White Tailed. It gradually drifted closer, but as it did so it got higher, and was continually harassed by the Buzzards-very spectacular and from time to time the corvids also joined in.
Eventually the camera was able to get a decent focus lock, despite the great hight and I got a few poor images.

 Unfortunately i then decided to head back down towards the distant woods where we eventually lost it.
Still, it more than made up for the frustrating day down at Hordle.

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