Saturday 3 June 2023

Devon and Dorset Grand Tour

It's been half term this week so we did a family break visiting birding friends on the South Coast. We first headed to Devon to meet up with Jaffa (aka Chris Townend from Wise Birding and Devon Beaver Tours) and then spent a couple of days with Kojak (aka Kevin Guest ex-Beddington birder, now at Athelhampton Bardolf Farm) and then finally it was over to Poole Harbour to meet up with Mark Constantine and Poole Harbour Birds/The Sound Approach.

Highlights included family friendly Beaver twitching, seeing the Ospreys at Poole Harbour, Nightjar on Budliegh Heaths and a visit to Abbotsbury Swannery.     

Thanks to all our great hosts and looking forward to the next Sound Approach publication which will be on waders and also looking forward to do some mothing at 'Kevin's farm' this summer and hopefully will be seeing Jaffa again on one of his birding tours later in the year. 

Happy Beaver Twitcher Jacob
Not the greatest photo ever of Beaver but we had three or four sightings of a couple of animals . 
Feeding the Mute Swans at Abbotsbury Swannery- nice to see Joe Stockwell there who'd had a Golden Oriole fly over that morning. Had an interesting discussion with Joe about bird flu at the Swannery which killed over 97% of all cygnets last year but luckily this summer there has been little sign of bird flu in the cygnets. The Canada Geese flocks are beginning to arrive now (a moulting population) and they are known to bring bird flu in but so far so good and fortunately bird flu is not affecting the adult Mute Swans much. Oxford University are present on the site studying the situation which considering the density of birds at this site makes for a very interesting albeit a bit morbid scientific study of the most highly pathogenic strain of bird flu so far. 
A few bits at the Swannery included the breeding Common Terns, a Pintail, a couple of Barnacle Geese and also three Black Swans (above) and a Bar-headed Goose (below)

The breeding Ospreys of Poole Harbour.  The first breeding Ospreys in Southern England in nearly 200 years. More on this project here. Live cam on this breeding pair below. Thanks to Paul Morton for hosting us and really interesting discussion on the project. 30 chicks have been moved from Scotland, reared in pens and then released in the Poole Harbour area over the last few years and a pair (a wild female and a re-introduced male) started breeding last year where one offspring was raised successfully (and a second chick was predated by a Goshawk). This year the pair have returned and they now have three chicks (all hatched in the last week). Last year's successfully reared chick won't return until next year but hopefully will breed in the area too and gradually a breeding population will be established in this area. There are several platforms that have been erected in the area to accommodate a growing population. Also interesting to find out that the first Isle of Wight re-introduced White-tailed Eagles might start breeding next year (in their fourth year now). These reintroduction projects have really been top of the bill for public engagement. Hopefully we will be working with Mark on a 'Cockney Sparrow Project' (reintroducing House Sparrows to central London and Tree Sparrows to Beddington) and also there is a feasibility study being carried out on Dalmation Pelican reintroduction which could be really exciting (and some of our Bulgarian contacts might be handy there too). 

The Poole Harbour Osprey live cam 

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