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Birding London trip report, 24 June

Portland Bill, Radipole Lake and Lodmoor, Dorset; The New Forest and Farlington Marsh, Hampshirewith Mike Jaklisch and Christine McBride – led by Jack Fearnside, aided by Rob Young


The day started with Jack and Rob meeting Mike and Chris at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel at 6.30am. The weather was near perfect, with blue skies, light winds and plenty of sunshine which continued throughout the day.

We drove west through Hampshire into Dorset and made our way onto the Isle of Portland, to the most southerly point at Portland Bill. We breakfasted looking at the passing seabirds in both the fast tidal rip and the air. Plenty of auks were flying to and from their breeding cliffs and Northern Gannets were passing east up the English Channel. Afterwards we walked round the short grass areas and the small stone quarries looking at pipits, Skylarks and Northern Wheatears.

We drove back to Weymouth and visited the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds marshland reserve at Radipole Lake where rare Cetti's Warblers were very vocal if difficult to glimpse but Bearded Tits were delightfully obvious in front of the reserve centre viewing window.

At the nearby wet grazing meadows of Lodmoor, also an RSPB reserve, we had our first good views of Northern Lapwing, one of Mike's sought-after species.

We drove back into Hampshire to visit The New Forest, a special lowland heath and woodland habitat established as a royal hunting preserve by William I soon after 1066. After looking around the pine trees at Shatterford car park we walked across the heath via Bishop's Dyke, looking at insectivorous Sundew plants in the bog areas and having close encounters with New Forest Ponies on the way. We also managed great views of the localised Dartford Warbler and Woodlark in this area. Turning right we circled the edge of the woods, seeing subtle Fallow Deer in the shade of the trees and a beautiful male Common Redstart, and entered the ancient woodland near Denny Lodge. We made our way through the quiet and shady woods before picking up the path back towards the car park. We almost made it back unscathed, but high water levels meant a little impromptu paddling by those without high waterproof boots (sorry Mike, Chris and Rob!). It did allow us to see a nice Eurasian Hobby overhead while the feet dried!

Our final location was Farlington Marsh, back near the hotel in Portsmouth. We did a short walk along the sea wall to view the lagoon area. Black-tailed Godwit proved popular and Mike was able to re-acquaint himself with Spotted Redshank, but this time a bird in black breeding plumage.

Our day finally ended back at the hotel at about 7.00pm.

83 species were seen or heard during the trip.

Species list

Great Crested Grebe – Two pairs were on the open water at Radipole Lake.

Northern Fulmar – Very close views of local breeding birds patrolling the cliffs at Portland Bill.

Northern Gannet – Many birds, of a variety of ages, were passing east up the Channel at Portland Bill.

Great Cormorant – Birds were seen passing Portland Bill and drying their wings at Radipole Lake.

European Shag – A few breeding birds were off Portland Bill.

Grey Heron – Good views of at least two adults in the fields at Lodmoor.

Little Egret – At least two birds frequented Lodmoor with others on the tidal estuary at Farlington Marsh. The two nuptial head plumes were noted in the scope.

Mute Swan – At least three family parties were present at Radipole Lake.

Common Shelduck – Adults with small young were seen at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor. One stroppy male chased the local Mallards.

Common Teal – Both males and females were on the lagoon at Farlington Marsh. This species has now been split from the Green-winged Teal of North America.

Mallard — Common at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor.

Tufted Duck – A pair were on the lake near the visitor centre at Radipole.

Common Buzzard – The first was a perched bird on the way to The New Forest and a distant pair were seen circling high from the paddling pool.

Eurasian Kestrel – A male hovered near the old lighthouse (Portland Bird Observatory) and others were seen at Radipole Lake and in The New Forest.

Eurasian Hobby – A distant bird was bettered by a high flying one, picked out by Rob, overhead at the paddling pool.

Common Moorhen – Adult and immature birds were at Radipole Lake, Lodmoor and Farlington Marsh.

Eurasian Coot – Seen with young at Radipole Lake and Farlington Marsh.

Eurasian Oystercatcher – A pair was near the tern colony at Lodmoor and others were on the lagoon and sea shore at Farlington Marsh.

Northern Lapwing – After a fly-over during our journey through The New Forest, we had close views at Lodmoor and Farlington Marsh.

Black-tailed Godwit – A single bird in summer plumage showed well at Farlington Marsh lagoon.

Eurasian Curlew – Small number were visiting the lagoon at Farlington Marsh.

Spotted Redshank – A single adult in summer plumage was on the lagoon at Farlington.

Common Redshank – After a single bird was seen in flight near the paddling pool in The New Forest, good numbers rested on the lagoon at Farlington Marsh.

Black-headed Gull – Common at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor. One flew over the bogs in The New Forest.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Excellent comparative views were possible at Radipole Lake where adult Lesser and Greater sat side-by-side on the wooden barriers.

Herring Gull – The commonest gull at Portland Bill. These birds belong to the British race argenteus.

Great Black-backed Gull – Two birds were on the sea off Portland Bill and a single adult was resting at Radipole Lake.

Black-legged Kittiwake – Small numbers seen off Portland Bill.

Common Tern – A single bird passed over at Radipole Lake and the breeding colony at Lodmoor contained small young which used the half pipes provided for shelter.

Common Guillemot – Good numbers were constantly flying or drifting past the Bill at Portland and a few were watched on their cliff ledges beyond Pulpit Rock.

Razorbill – Small numbers were seen off Portland Bill.

Atlantic Puffin – Small numbers were seen with other auks off Portland Bill.

Feral Pigeon – Difficult to miss at most sites.

Stock Dove – A single bird in flight from the car park at Farlington Marsh was the last 'tick' of the day.

Woodpigeon – Common, they look good and they taste good – what more could you ask?

Eurasian Collared Dove – Common in built up areas.

Common Swift – Common in the air at all sites. Some were low over the lagoon at Farlington Marsh.

Green Woodpecker – The laughing call was heard in The New Forest.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – The distinctive 'chik' call was heard in The New Forest.

Woodlark – Excellent views of a least one pair of this local and secretive species was seen near the railway bridge at Shatterford in The New Forest.

Skylark – Singing birds performed well at Portland Bill.

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) – A few birds joined Swifts and House Martins over the lagoon at Farlington Marsh.

Barn Swallow – Seen at Portland Bill and Radipole Lake.

House Martin – Common. First seen around the Pulpit Inn at Portland.

Tree Pipit – One secretive bird fed around a Silver Birch near the railway bridge and another waited to feed its young at Bishop's Dyke, both in The New Forest.

Meadow Pipit – Singing birds were seen well at Portland Bill and in The New Forest.

Rock Pipit – Almost the first species seen at Portland Bill. These robust, dark pipits showed their dark legs in close views.

Pied Wagtail – Good views of a decent male were not forthcoming but juveniles were seen at various sites.

Eurasian Wren – Commonly heard at Radipole, Lodmoor, The New Forest and Farlington Marsh.

Dunnock – Seen at Portland Bill and heard elsewhere. Dull bird, bright sex life.

European Robin – Surprisingly scarce, only one bird was seen in The New Forest.

Common Redstart – The first seen were a family party near the railway bridge at Shatterford but the best was a smart male which showed well in the scope further on during our walk in The New Forest.

Common Stonechat – Plenty of these perky chats were seen at Portland Bill, Radipole Lake and in The New Forest, but never a good male!

Northern Wheatear – Some excellent views of birds at Portland Bill.

Common Blackbird – Common in suitable habitats.

Song Thrush – Good views on the move of a bird feeding in the open on a roundabout near Wimborne, Dorset.

Mistle Thrush – Another bird seen best from the car. Birds were feeding on the forest lawns near Lyndhurst and a poorly seen bird as near the male Redstart in The New Forest.

Cetti's Warbler – Well heard at Radipole Lake. One allowed Mike sufficient views to see the salient features.

Sedge Warbler – Our first bird was heard singing on the way back from the hide at Radipole. Good views were possible at Lodmoor and Farlington Marsh.

Reed Warbler – Singing birds at Radipole provided frustratingly brief views but more obliging birds were seen at Lodmoor.

Blackcap – Song was heard at several places in our woodland walk but none revealed themselves.

Dartford Warbler – This localised species performed on cue in its specialised Gorse/heather habitat in the New Forest. A male was also singing from a pine tree at Bishop's Dyke.

Chiffchaff – Heard and seen at Radipole Lake with further song in The New Forest.

Willow Warbler – A few birds were still singing at Bishop's Dyke where one showed briefly.

Goldcrest – A bird, first heard singing, finally showed in the deep woodland near Denny Lodge.

Bearded Tit – A family party of juveniles showed extremely well in reeds near the visitor's centre at Radipole Lake.

Coal Tit – A few birds were seen in the pines at Shatterford car park in The New Forest.

Blue Tit – Common in suitable habitats – plenty of young birds indicate a good breeding season.

Great Tit – Seen frequently in suitable habitats.

European Nuthatch – The fluting calls were heard from pines as we approached Bishop's Dyke in The New Forest. The birds showed well low down on the trunks of the trees.

Common Treecreeper – The first showed well in the pines at Shatterford with other seen later on our walk in The New Forest.

Eurasian Jay – The only bird of the day was a fly-over soon after starting our trip.

Common Magpie – Common. Now split from the Black-billed Magpie of North America (see 45th supplement of the AOU).

Western Jackdaw – Common at Portland Bill.

Rook – Good numbers were feeding in fields and on roadsides during our journeys. Birds were also present at Portland Bill, Radipole Lake and Lodmoor.

Carrion Crow – Common at every site.

Common Starling – Common at sites such as Portland Bill where many young birds were feeding with adults.

House Sparrow – Common around buildings.

Common Chaffinch – Common in The New Forest. Showed well under the pines at the Shatterford car park.

European Greenfinch – Common at sites such as Portland Bill, The New Forest and Farlington Marsh.

Eurasian Siskin – Good views of a pair, coming to a pool to drink, near Bishop's Dyke in The New Forest.

Common Linnet – The commonest finch, seen at most sites.

Reed Bunting – Black-headed males were seen in flight at Farlington Marsh.

Other species

Common Rabbit – Seen at Portland Bill.

Grey Squirrel – At least two seen in the deep woodland near Denny Lodge.

Fallow Deer – Some spotted hinds in the shade of trees near Bishop's Dyke.

New Forest Ponies – Very common in The New Forest, the small young were very attractive. They herd them up, they let them go. Why?

Sundew sp. – This insectivorous plant was common in boggy areas in The New Forest.