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Singing Melodious Warbler on the Ile D'Oleron. Took a while to become familiar with the song. Was thinking Sedge Warbler initially, until I saw one. As the week went on, I realized they were quite numerous in the area. This one showed well, but distantly, and the grass was too long to use the ground as a steadier rest, thus the shake.

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Visited the ile D'Oleron in France for a family holiday. A lovely island on the west coast of France connected to the mainland by a fairly impressive bridge. The habitat on the island is dominated by ditches, canals and man-made ponds, quite unlike anywhere I have ever been in Europe, perhaps reminiscent of Israeli fishponds, and the wildlife was pretty cool.

One highlight on the journey down was a brief glimpse of a Polecat in the headlights, plus a couple of Black Kites.

The island was far enough South to have some nice birds including Short-toed Eagle, Hoopoe, and Night Heron. Melodious Warblers were numerous, and Scops Owl was heard most nights.

The commonest birds on the Island were Serin, Turtle Dove, Black Redstart, Cattle and Little Egret, Nightingale, and Marsh Harrier. Cirl Bunting and Short-toed treecreeper being the other highlights.

Best of the dragonflies and damsels were:

Southern Emerald Damselfly,
Scarce Emerald Damselfly
Dainty Damselfly
Southern Migrant Hawker
Scarlet Darter, and Red-Veined Darter

plus Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor, and 4-spotted Chaser.

Both Marsh and Edible Frog were seen on one small ditch, and Common Wall Lizard were present on the campsite.
Pyramidal Orchid, Lizard Orchid and Bee Orchid were found around the campsite. The only disappointment was the Butterflies though numerous didn't seem to have any big surprises. Glanville's Fritillary the highlight.

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A good weekend locally with a small number of migrants touching down. Tree Pipits at both sides of the village plus Wheatear. Whitethroat and Blackcaps establishing territories along with Chiff Chaffs and a Willow Warbler. A Lesser White throat singing was also a nice find.

One of the Tree Pipits photo'd below:

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Singing Lesser Whitethroat (Audio only, unless you have incredibly good eyesight!)

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A brief recording of a singing Firecrest at Chilworth. One of my favourite bird songs, and they seem to be spreading fast across the County. I know of up to 12 territories in a 2 mile radius of my house this year. 

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Chilworth Conservation area seems like a nice, often overlooked area. I had a good walk around over the weekend, hoping to find Adder which is mentioned on all the information boards.. "BEWARE Adders!" but I have yet to find one.

Stock Doves were a nice bonus, presumably nesting in the woodland fringe, and at least 4 Firecrest territories was another sign of how this species is expanding. A walk around Chilworth Golf Course now would get you at least 8 Firecrests (if you had extremely good hearing!)


Out on foot first thing this morning, checking the local area. No rain, or reason for numbers of migrant birds to stop their journey North, but i did see one Wheatear.

A few Blackcap were holding territory, and two or three Whitethroats.

Rownhams wood had two singing Firecrest, and two Tree Pipits, plus a brief burst of Willow Warbler

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Spent the Easter weekend at Whitegate, near Holmfirth, on the edge of the Peak District. Weather was mainly cold, windy, with frequent showers, but some nice bird sightings.

Good to see breeding Lapwings, and Curlew on the moors. A Snipe, 2 Oystercatcher, and a few Golden Plover were also seen, plus a Red Grouse.


One that got away this week...

My annual BTO breeding bird survey was going well. A few Lapwings the highlight of the first section, followed by a fairly quiet second half. Then on the final 100 metre section, I saw a bird high in the canopy flying away from me, then fly-catching high in the trees. I got dark brown above, white below, and what looked like a very broad white wingbar. Suspect a Pied Flycatcher, which I don't recall ever seeing in Hampshire before, although we do get the odd one. Sadly it flew further from the track and I couldn't relocate or confirm. These things happen from time to time.

Elsewhere, a Great Black-backed Gull over the house was a garden first!

Just waiting for a break in the weather, preferably with some overnight rain, to hopefully bring down a few spring migrants into the area. Swallow, Chiff-Chaff, Blackcap, and Willow Warbler, being the only arrivals close to home so far.

Siskin and Redpolls have both visited the buyer seed feeders CV in the last few weeks. Not in any great numbers so far this spring. Overhead a Red Kite has been seen to the South on a couple of occasions
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