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KIngfisher in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 16:48
KIngfisher in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Thursday, 17 January, 2019

We are blessed with some wonderful chalk streams and rivers in Dorset and they are undoubtedly a prime nesting environment for kingfishers. In winter, however, kingfishers tend to move downstream nearer to the sea where, I assume, the fishing is better. The records in the Nature of Dorset database show this seasonal movement quite well with inland records from sites along the Stour and the Frome and then clusters around the outlets of these rivers into Poole harbour and Christchurch harbour. There are also sightings along the Fleet and at the mouth of the River Wey at Radipole in Weymouth; indeed kingfishers nest at Radipole.

Records for the breeding season from April to July are few and far between and this will be due the their nesting locations not being heavily watched sites together with the birds being more active at this time of year and they seem to spend little time stationary but always on the move and more likely to be missed. The bulk of the records come from August through until January when they are often at the well monitored coastal sites and at a time when they are quite happy to find a post or branch to perch on and wait for a fish to pass by rather than constantly searching for food for their young.

August and September are the prime months for sightings and one wonders whether there is actually a greater migrational movement in the autumn rather than just along their favourite river; are we seeing birds that are moving through further south during this time? I do not know whether there has been any study done on this, may be someone can enlighten me. I have never thought of the kingfisher as being migratory as such but there is no reason why it cannot be.

It is difficult to predict with any reliability where you might find a kingfisher although they do seem to stay for a while at a good location in autumn and so can be seen quite regularly there until they decide to move on. There was one for several weeks being seen daily at Holton Lee in 2018 for example. If you are looking to add kingfisher to your list I would suggest you need to keep an eye on the daily sightings during August and September to see where they are being seen most regularly.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Upton Country Park Revisited

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:51
Upton Country Park RevisitedPost Date: Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

Poole Borough Council have made a lot of changes to Upton Country Park over the last few years since I made my 'official' recording visit! The first thing you notice is that parking is no longer free; it is now pay and display. That said, the parking charges are pretty reasonable at 50p for an hour and they promise all funds go into the maintenance of the park. 

For the nature lover there are more profound changes and sadly, in my opinion, not all for the better. The bird hide has gone but that is because it was irreparably damaged by the weather; the birds are not that close to where the hide was and do not seem bothered by the people who stand out in the open to watch them.

The Shoreline Trail and some other paths have been closed and new cycle/footpaths have been put in but the new paths go through boring, open fields that were once used for cattle grazing. This means that access to much of the natural interest on the site has been lost. There are still a couple of places you can stop and look out across the marsh and thankfully the board walk through the reed bed remains. Access to the lovely beech wood is still open and the pond can still be seen so all is not lost!

Upton Country Park is very much a recreational facility rather than a nature reserve which, as far as I am concerned, is a pity as it should have much to offer wildlife and especially to pollinating insects and all that depends on them. 

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Redwing in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 18:23
Redwing in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Monday, 14 January, 2019

Redwing are very definitely bad weather visitors to Dorset. They come, usually with their cousins the fieldfare, every winter but the colder and more severe the weather 'up north' the larger the numbers we see here in the soft south. They are members of the thrush family who they nest in Scandinavia and far northern places and a trip to Dorset in winter is an escape from the tough winter conditions that set in up there in autumn and winter.

As the weekly chart shows clearly you can expect to start seeing redwing from week 40 (early October) until week 12 (end of March) the following spring. To see one outside this time frame is very unusual. There is no specific peak in reports caused through regular migration; peaks in redwing sightings usually coincide with bad weather.

You can encounter redwing almost anywhere in Dorset in winter. Most often they will be in hedgerows and in isolated trees near farmland. They are ground feeding birds in general but take to the trees and hedgerows for berries and also as an escape from disturbance or predators. 

Telling you where and when you can reliably see redwing is impossible but as they are quite common in winter you should have no trouble in finding some somewhere in bad weather.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Lapwing in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Sun, 01/13/2019 - 18:08
Lapwing in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Sunday, 13 January, 2019

One of my earliest memories of nature is my father taking me out into the New Forest near Beaulieu where we lived to see the lapwing nesting in a bog there; that was back in the 1950s and times have changed. The lapwing is now a scarce nesting species in southern England and I am not at all sure any nest in Dorset. They were connected with Tadnoll not so long ago but I am pretty sure the attempted nest failed and they have not been back since. I may be wrong, I may have missed more recent news.

Whilst lapwing can be seen in Dorset through much of the year reports are few and far between with just small number of tweets each week. The weekly chart is quite unusual as it shows between 1 and 5 reports most weeks but in week 9 this rises to 33 in March. There were also far more records in 2018 than 2017 and that spike in reports coincides with the bitterly cold 'beast from the east' and shows how bitter weather will force birds to move and what we witnessed that week were large numbers of hungry birds desperately looking for unfrozen ground where they could feed. These large flocks almost certainly had to move down into France and Spain to escape the adverse weather here in Britain. The 'beast' hit ground feeding birds very hard indeed.

Although waders they are generally found feeding on farmland but in Dorset the majority of reports come from coastal locations especially those where there are shallow, flooded scrapes and so Lytchett Bay, Sunnyside Farm, Abbotsbury and Lodmoor seem to produce the most reports.

In my experience the best views of lapwing can be had at Lodmoor in Weymouth during the winter months.    

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Mediterranean Gull in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 18:50
Mediterranean Gull in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Saturday, 12 January, 2019

The mediterranean gull is one of those species, like the little egret, that was a real rarity here forty or so years ago but are now well established here and breeding in favoured locations. I remember going to Titchfield Haven in Hampshire one Saturday in the early 1970s and was surprised to find thirty or so 'birders' there. On enquiry I discovered they had come to see one of the first mediterranean gulls to be recorded in Hampshire; a photograph of it subsequently appeared on a book produced by the Hampshire Ornithological Society with details of all the species recorded in Hampshire. I think the book was called "The Revised LIst of Hampshire Birds"; sadly my copy has long since gone from my library as I must have loaned it to someone and never got it back.

The 'med' gull is now resident in Dorset and breeds on the Brownsea lagoon and possibly at other sites too. As the weekly chart shows rarely a week goes by without at least one report however it can be seen from the chart that there are peaks during the spring and autumn migration periods which shows our resident numbers are substantially inflated by migrant birds. This seems especially true in 'autumn' from week 25 at the beginning of July through until week 31 at the end of August. In these weeks it seems a large number of juvenile birds are recorded amongst the adults so we are probably seeing the dispersal from nesting sites of fledged families who are out learning the ropes with their parents.

The distribution map shows just how widespread the mediterranean gull now is in Dorset with records from all of the regular coastal spots as well as from some inland sites and even as far inland as Cranborne.

The nesting colony on Brownsea Island is by far the best place to see them; take the boat across in June or July and see them on their nests and feeding their young just a matter of feet away from you.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Sanderling in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 18:24
Sanderling in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Friday, 11 January, 2019

The sanderling is a delightful little wader best known for its habit of running up and down sandy beaches as the waves come in seemingly trying not to get its feet wet! Whilst they can be seen in many coastal locations they do have a marked preference for sandy beaches and that is where their name originates from. The sanderling is not that common in Dorset but it could not be considered scarce either; they certainly do not breed here. They are primarily a passage migrant species although some do spend much of the winter here if conditions do not get too severe.

A look at the weekly reports chart shows two peaks for sightings, one in spring and the other in autumn. The spring influx picks up in week 17 at the beginning of May reaching a maximum in week 21 at the beginning of June before falling away and then there is then a gap of about four weeks before the return flow starts which is then well under way by week 30 in July and goes on until week 36 at the beginning of September. After this there are a couple of reports most weeks throughout the autumn and winter although it seems February is almost devoid of them here.

Sanderling can be seen at various points around Poole harbour where the conditions are suitable as well as in Christchurch harbour. They can also be seen at most of the sites along the Fleet but the most reports come from Ferrybridge, partly because this is a well monitored site but also because conditions favour their behaviour and feeding habits.

Apart from Ferrybridge, the best place to see sanderling is probably the beach at Sandbanks or across the Poole harbour entrance on the beach at Shell bay or in Bramblebush bay where they can often be seen near the car ferry ramp. 

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Green Sandpiper in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 17:40
Green Sandpiper in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Thursday, 10 January, 2019

The green sandpiper is rarely seen in large groups, they seem to be solitary individuals although sometimes half a dozen or so might be seen together in suitable habitat. They are very fond of muddy scrapes with nearby cover and do not seem comfortable out in the open on the mudflats at low tide along with other waders. 

This is not a breeding species in Dorset of course, like many waders the green sandpiper is generally seen on migration tending to arrive here, stay a while and then move further south when the weather deteriorates. The weekly chart shows this quite well with a good number of reports from week 24 at the end of July continuing through until week week 35 at the end of September. Reports continue to come in over the winter at a lower level with few sightings in December through until the end of April when reports dry up as the birds are return north for the breeding season. There is little sign of a spring influx so, as with many birds, it seems they do not stick around in spring when the have work to do but then take their time going south when the breeding season is over.

Most records come from coastal locations, especially those with scrapes and Lytchett Bay, Sunnyside Farm and Holton Lee all now have good habitat for green sandpiper and regular reports come from sites such as these. They can also be frequently seen on watercress beds and sometimes in soggy river valleys. They are not often seen at the sites many other waders are where there is substantial open mud at low tide.

Your best chance to see green sandpiper is to visit one of the three sites I mentioned above in late summer (July and August) so watch the news for signs that they are returning south.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Red Kite in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 18:11
Red Kite in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Wednesday, 9 January, 2019

When I started out 'birding' back in the 1970s I was told we have resident species of birds (robins, blackbirds, etc) and migrant bird species; those that visit for the summer (swallow, house martin, etc) and those that visit for the winter (dunlin, brent goose, etc). Now I am a bit wiser! Birds need to eat and birds have wings and so birds can move to find food in bad weather; obvious isn't it? The red kite could be considered a 'resident' species as it is seen in Britain all year round but, like many other birds, when the going gets tough the red kite gets going; when the snow comes the red kite goes because it has to to survive.

In Dorset the red kite is certainly a vagrant species even though it is seen regularly but as far as I am aware, although they could well be breeding in the north of the county, they could not be considered resident. The weekly reports show that you can encounter a red kite at virtually any time of the year in Dorset. What is interesting is that there were far more reports in 2018 than in 2017 (151 v 63) and that there was a surge in reports in the May of 2018. Not only did the number of reports increase but the numbers being reported were not just individuals as is often the case but groups of birds. The winter of 2018 turned quite nasty at one point with snow across much of Britain and so the red kites gradually moved south and then in April and May they started to return to their nesting grounds in Wales and the Cotswolds passing through Dorset on their way. Is this true "migration"? Possibly not but it does show definite movement in response to changes in the weather.

The distribution map shows just how widely dispersed sightings of red kites are in Dorset and there are a good number from less watched inland sites as well as from the more closely monitored sites such as Abbotsbury, Arne, Poole Harbour and West Bexington, all of which reported good numbers.

Guaranteeing sightings of red kite in Dorset is not possible at the present time and to add it to your life list you will need to keep an eye on the news and respond accordingly!

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Hobby in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 18:15
Hobby in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Tuesday, 8 January, 2019

The hobby is famed for following flocks of migrating hirundines on migration with the small birds providing a constant supply of in flight meals for the predatory hobby. The hobby is also famous for its ability to catch dragonflies in mid-flight, quite a remarkable achievement. Both of the these features I think show through in the reported sightings of these spectacular birds in Dorset.

The hobby is a summer visitor to Britain and they start appearing in Dorset from week 13 in early April but the main influx of spring birds seems to occur from week 17 in May to week 24 at the end of June. Many of these early reports will be of birds moving through to more northerly locations but some will nest in Dorset hence reports throughout the summer before autumn migration picks up in August with the peak for reports coming in September and with them all gone by week 43 in mid October. September is, of course, the prime time for migrating swallows and martins which must contribute to the increase in hobby sightings at this time of year. 

The bulk of reports come from Arne, Hartland Moor, Radipole and Morden Bog and these are all sites where dragonflies occur in good numbers throughout the summer and autumn which must have an influence on their presence in these places both during the breeding season and on migration. Juveniles have certainly been seen at Morden Bog and at Radipole which is a pretty good sign of successful breeding in these areas.

The distribution map shows how widely dispersed sightings are but the highest density seems to occur in east Dorset and in Purbeck where there is extensive heathland with heathland ponds and bogs which is where dragonflies are at their most numerous. There are also several reports from locations along the Fleet where they are most often seen arriving on migration or spending a day or two feeding before setting off across the English Channel on their way south in autumn.

Being primarily migratory in Dorset is difficult to predict where you might see one but the most likely way to add hobby to your life list is to go to Morden Bog in summer and watch the bog pools where hobbys can often be seen hunting for dragonflies.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Avocet in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 17:20
Avocet in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Monday, 7 January, 2019

I have a soft spot for the avocet! I try not to have favourites in nature believing that all creatures and plants are beautiful in their own way as part of the rich diversity of life our world currently offers us but, that said, the avocet has to be one of my 'top ten birds'. When I started birding back in the 1970s the avocet was uncommon in the south of England, indeed rare, and I still recall seeing my first avocet in 1981 in Pagham harbour in Sussex. Thankfully they are now almost common place in Dorset coastal areas in winter with large numbers, well over 500, to be seen gathered together in feeding flocks on exposed mudflats at low tide.

Whilst they are seen on the Fleet and in Christchurch harbour the main wintering population is to be be found in Poole harbour; reports from other sites would tend to be birds on the move as they do not appear to generate reports other than just one off casual records every now and again.

As with many waders we may think that they can only be seen in Dorset in winter and yet the weekly chart shows records for the avocet from virtually every week of the year and that is because a couple of pairs have nested on Brownsea Island in recent years and have hatched young but unfortunately due to predation the young have not fully fledged and reached adulthood. Hopefully some way of protecting the chicks will be found and a regular breeding colony in Poole harbour can be established. If that does not happen it will not be for the lack of trying I am sure so I wish those involved in trying to bring this about every success in their endeavours but it will not be easy.

The bulk of the incoming winter population seem to arrive from about week 36 at the end of September and numbers start to reach their peak by November. In spring the bulk of the birds have gone by the end of March or early April. 

To add avocet to your life list just go to the RSPB Arne reserve and walk out onto Coombe Heath to the hide or the viewing screen and at low tide you will see hundreds of these elegant, beautiful birds. Wait for them to be disturbed and see them take off almost together as one in a wonderful mass of black and white. If you can get a winter boat to Brownsea Island then you can see them close up right outside the hides, this is also true if you go early or very late in the season when the boats are running daily.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Great Northern Diver in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 18:51
Great Northern Diver in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Sunday, 6 January, 2019

The great northern diver breeds in the Arctic and migrates south for the winter. Most birds seen in Britain come from Iceland although some come from Greenland and even as far away as Canada. In winter they are a frequent sight around the northern shores of Britain and Ireland and a small number venture as far south as the Dorset coast where they are seen in variable numbers each year. They are not numerous here but, as notable birds, those that are here generate a good number of reports from local birders.

They start to appear in favoured Dorset locations around week 46 which is early November and they remain until the following May although reports seem to start to diminish from week 5 at the beginning of February. A couple of odd reports have been seen from as late as June but this is certainly not the norm and are probably non-breeding birds but even they will head north at some point and you would not expect to see one during July, August or September with the chance of an early returning bird in October before the main influx in November.

There were almost twice as many reports in 2018 as there were in 2017 although that may not mean twice as many birds present.

Although birds of the open sea they demonstrate a distinct preference for the sheltered waters of Poole and Portland harbours for their stay here with just occasional reports from more exposed and open offshore locations. Offshore reports are often of birds on the move whereas the harbour birds seem to be settled and feeding here.

The most likely sure sighting of a great northern diver is Portland Harbour in winter but they can also be seen close to Poole town at Baiter and even on the boating lake at Poole Park.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Yellow Wagtail in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 18:18
Yellow Wagtail in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Saturday, 5 January, 2019

The yellow wagtail no longer breeds in Dorset, it hasn't done for quite some time now, however it is frequently seen on passage during migration from Africa to its breeding sites further north in Britain and Europe. I say on its way to its breeding sites but actually, when you look at the weekly reporting chart you see that it is far more likely to be recorded in autumn on its way south rather than in spring going north. This is not unusual amongst passage migrant species; in spring they have one objective, to press on homeward, set up a territory and raise young. It seems that apart from dropping down for a quick snack they are not going to hang about here in Dorset when they have important work to do. The autumn is a very different scenario; they have plenty of time to make the journey south and whilst there is ample food supply here in Britain there is no incentive to move quickly on. This means that when they reach the Dorset coast they can spend a while feeding up prior to setting out across the sea. Many of these autumn birds will be youngsters who are still building up their strength and their flying skills so taking some time out is a good idea!

Yellow wagtail like to feed on flies that they find on or near cow pats and invariably they seem to be seen near herds of cows, this is not always the case but often that is where you will find them. They are usually in wild places and most often at coastal sites as the distribution map indicates. The bulk of records come from Ferrybridge, Lytchett Bay and Abbotsbury which are all good habitat for their needs but these are also amongst the best watched sites in the county and so any yellow wagtails seen on those sites are going to generate a good number of reports.

Incoming birds seem to appear between weeks 15 and 18 during May but the autumn outflux is spread over a longer period from week 34 to as late as week 40 and some stragglers are seen even beyond this. They are certainly at their peak here in late August, through September and in to October. 

It is difficult to say exactly where and when is your best chance of seeing them in Dorset, the best bet is to watch the birding news and be ready to act quickly once the reports start coming in.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Brent Goose in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 18:20
Brent Goose in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Friday, 4 January, 2019

The harbours of Dorset are important wintering havens for Brent geese and their arrival in autumn is a sure sign that winter is approaching. There are actually two different races of Brent goose that you can encounter in Dorset, the more common dark-bellied and the much scarcer pale-bellied. The dark-bellied race nest in Siberia and northern Russia and come to the east and south of England to over winter whereas the pale-bellied race are from Greenland and Spitsbergen and mainly spend their winters in Ireland but a small number end up here in Dorset each winter, mainly to the west along the Fleet. Because most tweeted reports do not differentiate between the races I make no attempt to separate them in my database of records.

The weekly reports chart show that small numbers of early arrivals start returning about week 34 in late August but the main return seems to kick off a couple of weeks later in week 36 in September and they are then regularly reported throughout the winter until the following spring when they have mostly all gone by week 17 at the end of April. A very small number of reports come in during the summer months but these are the exception and are probably of the odd bird not fit enough to travel the extreme distance to the breeding grounds.

As with many of our wintering waterfowl species the distribution map shows clusters of reports from Christchurch harbour, Poole harbour and the Fleet with odd passage sightings from other coastal locations. Whilst Ferrybridge has by far the most reports the largest population is certainly in and around Poole harbour where they are seen at nearly all of the disperate sites around the harbour from October until April each winter. They are less common in Christchurch harbour and at other sites up the Fleet.

For the best chance of seeing Brent geese I would suggest the Middlebere channel viewed from the Coombe viewpoint at Arne but at the right state of the tide obviously Ferrybridge is likely to reward you.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Redshank in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 18:17
Redshank in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...Post Date: Thursday, 3 January, 2019

Whilst not the most numerous wader on the Dorset coast the redshank is probably one of the most common; by common I mean most frequently and easily seen. Like many waders they are found on tidal mudflats where they feed on exposed mud at low tide and the natural harbours of Dorset and the Fleet are ideal habitat for them. The distribution map shows this quite clearly with virtually all reports coming from the various sites in Poole and Christchurch harbours and from points along the Fleet shore line.

Redshank can be seen all year round as the weekly reports chart clearly shows and it is interesting that there are more sightings in the second half of the year; especially from week 25 to 35 and I am left to ponder why this might be. This chart is saying that the most reports are in June and July during the wader breeding season and yet it is believed very few pairs breed at sites in Dorset. The answer may lie in the vagaries of Twitter reporting of interesting sightings. During the autumn, winter and spring they are commonly seen and so are not deemed interesting enough to report whereas in summer they are one of the few species of wader about on our shores and so become more 'reportable'; I may be wrong but I can see no other obvious reason. There may be migratory influences in these reports but that would make the redshank one of the earliest migrating waders passing through. Whilst there will be movement in the redshank population there is no apparent increase in sightings during the spring period to show the reports reflect migration waves.

There were twice as many reports of redshank in 2018 than in 2017 but I do not think there is any real significance in terms of population in this rather simplistic statistic.

Most reports come from Ferrybridge and from Lytchett Bay and if redshank is on your 'hit list' then Ferrybridge any time of year, but especially late summer and autumn, would seem your best chance to see them although they can also be 'guaranteed' at low tide at Arne on the Middlebere channel and off Shipstall

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Great White Egret in Dorset: what your tweets tells us ...

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 18:12
Great White Egret in Dorset: what your tweets tells us ...Post Date: Wednesday, 2 January, 2019

It is not that long ago, maybe four or five years, that a great white egret sighting in Dorset was quite unusual and would create a bit of a stir but not any more. They have been seen quite regularly on the Somerset levels for a while now and I understand that they are now starting to breed there so to have over wintering birds in Dorset is no longer that surprising. It remains to be seen whether their colonisation of Britain is as dominant as their smaller cousin, the little egret.

The weekly reports chart show the frequency at which this species is being seen with records during the non-breeding months from around week 26 (mid-July) through to week 17 in early April. They are pretty much absent from 18 through to 25 presumably whilst away breeding so it will be interesting to see if that gap is maintained this coming summer or whether we start to get sightings as younger birds stay with us or even if they start to breed here.

It will be seen that there is a big jump in reports during the late summer and autumn. That is not directly because of a major influx of birds but because a small number of long staying birds are being reported regularly from Longham Lakes, Lodmoor/Radipole and from around Poole harbour. There could be about ten birds present during the 2018/9 winter but, although more common now they are still a notable bird and attract lots of reports. Reports during 2018 are about 50% up on 2017.

Records are mainly from coastal locations as the distribution map clearly illustrates and this, of course, reflects their preferred feeding habitat in shallow waters near reed beds.

In the winter of 2018/9 your best bet for seeing one would seem to at Longham lakes where three or four birds are regularly reported.

 

This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon
Categories: Timeline, Twitter