Having missed out last week, we pretty much had to do Hampshire today, with two major rarities and a nice supporting cast. Unfortunately the weather was not as good, with some wind and a lot od dull cloudy light. Despite this we had a great day.
We arrived at Calshott around 0830 to find a smallish crowd staring at the hedge and a Spanish Sparrow hidden deep in the hawthorn. Views were not good. I was told that there were a couple of Peregrines around the power station behind us but I never got to see them.
Got a tap on the shoulder, turned round and was surprised to see Phil Ball on a rare twitch-apparently Ian Kendall was coming down and he cadged a lift. Gesturing at a passing container ship he remarked that the Sparrow had made a very long and strenuous journey.
Eventually the Sparrow moved out of the hedge and we got very good views, much better than the ones we had way back in Cumbria in 1996 (and they were pretty good too).
Our next stop on the tour that every one seemed to be doing was hawkhill Enclosure in the New Forest. Light was very poor and the Junco had not shown all morning-Phil mentioned that he had seen singing Woodlarks as well as many Crossbills. The Crossbills showed but I never saw or heard (except possibly a distant song fragment lost in the wind) one. Eventually someone found the Junco in one of the fallen pines some way off-it showed well but distantly before flying to the usual Chestnuts. Here it fed on the ground extensively but occasionally got up into the fallen pines and Chestnut where I got some decent images with the 500mm and both 1.4 and 2x converters. Rather nice to use this lens as it was after some very disappointing photography at the Chester Junco many years ago that I got the lens-I ordered it after seeing a magazine advert while stopping off at an M6 service station on the way back.
Phil mentioned that two weeks back William had encountered many Dartford Warblers in the heath over the road, but despite a search we were not successful, as the wind was rather strong.
The Gosport Ring Bill Gull was next on the list. We arrived just after noon to be told it had been seen shortly before but was no longer on the lake. Encountering Phil and Ian again we were directed to the muddy harbour where they had seen it badly backlit by the Sun. We saw the bird in question but it was distant. A few Brents, Curlews and redshank were around. Returning to the car via the lake I was surprised to see the Ring Bill sitting on the water. Working our way round we were confused to find only a well marked Common, but soon located the Ring Bill again. Luckily someone arrived with a bag of bread and it flew by before sitting on the path in front of us.