Saturday, 21 January 2012

Hampshire - double act

Two lifers lurking in Hampshire meant a long journey beckoned and with Rob Stokes up for a couple of 'megas' we hit the road first thing......

The New forest and Hawkhill Inclosure was the first destination and the the Dark-eyed Junco. We arrived at 9.15 and had a nervy 45 minutues of 'no show' until it finally revealed itself! Not exactly posing though but I'm never worried about feather detail where lifers are concerned - seeing the bird is all that matters!

It was found amongst an uprooted conifer about 50m away (middle right of the image below) as we all kept to the track!





Eventually it relocated to the area it usually favours and was immediately tossing leaves to one side as it searched for seed, I presume the locals have been seeding this area?





Strictly record shots but we were all getting decent views now!





A brief and reasonably close view on a stump was the best we got before it promptly flew off! Rob and I gave it at least an hour of staking out - hoping it would return? It didn't :-(



Next up was the headlining Spanish Sparrow and this was an absolute nightmare! The police 'no parking' cones were still present in force and there were only 20 or so birders on site and no Sparrow! After watching hedges and House Sparrows for 30 minutes or so, we were tempted by the door of number 41. The occupants have been allowing a steady stream of birders to view their feeders since the news was put out. The bird regularly shows here.....So, shoes off, in we went!



Another 30 minutes or so passed.... This was beginning to take on a dippy feel until the call went up - it's in the garden round the corner!

Shoes on...... run, run, run..... Taking in the new surroundings.....



Thank goodness I keep myself fit, next challenge was to find it amongst the hordes of House Sparrows! It had flown out of the garden before we arrived but soon (briefly) returned and 'phew' - here's the record shot of it's return!



It then flew deep into the nearby hedge next and after another 30 mins slowly edged into view. Now I was getting good views, this was one seriously smart Sparrow!! The pristine white cheeks with contrasting black breast/flanks and chestnut brown crown were something to behold! Sadly there was always a leaf or two in the way!



See what I mean, one very smart Sparrow!



Too much time had been wasted to get over to the Ring-billed Gull at Gosport so we stuck it out, hoping for better views? The result, fleeting pre-roost glimpses in a hedge....



Before it flew off to roost (and that was the last we saw of it!)



Never mind, two lifers and the 330's are looming soon?

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