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Saturday, 20 August 2011

New sights around the New Forest

Sabine's Gull

As autumn is increasing the liklihood of a good bird at the patch, I am getting ever more reluctant to leave it but I couldn't resist an outing around the New Forest with Phil today. Ever since I bought my first field guides and continually flicked through the pages in awe of all the wonderful birds I was looking forward to seeing, Sabine's Gull is one of the species that caught my attention. That distinctive wing pattern, forked tail and (in the case of adults) wonderful head makes it the most attractive of the gulls for me. The soft-toned plumage of juveniles is very smart too. However, I haven't had much luck with Sabs - I was utterly gutted when I dipped the three birds at Beddington nearly four years ago on my first visit to the site and have failed on other attempts. The bird near Avon appeared to be hanging around so this was first on our iternery. The situation was daunting, probably over one to two thousand Black-headed Gulls (with a few Med Gulls mixed in) to scan through. So it was a relief to lock eyes on the first-summer Sabine's Gull within fifteen minutes. A smart bird indeed; best in flight. And my 21st British tick of the year.

Goshawk

Crossbill at Blackwater Arboretum

This was followed by a visit to Acres Down. A couple of Crossbills and a Firecrest were seen by the car and further on a pair of Common Redstarts showed. I scanned the dead tops of the rows of trees in the middle distance and lay sight on a majestic juvenile female Goshawk! We got distant but prolonged and clear views of this beast for about half an hour before it flew off when the cloud cleared and it warmed up. This is my first non-flying sighting of a Goshawk. After this there was almost always a Goshawk on view, there were probably at least two birds knocking about - at times mobbed by Sparrowhawks. Common Buzzards were everywhere but as usual none of them could be turned into a Honey-buzzard. A Grayling was my first of the year.

Our final venue was Blackwater Arboretum for a mosey around. Crossbills were everywhere, acquiring by far my best views of this bird. Another Firecrest showed.

Britain Life List: 313