Saturday 18th April 2009
Travelled down to near Petersfield in Hampshire with Julian, Tom and Adam with the intention of seeing a long staying White throated Sparrow, a new bird for low lister Tom. After some initial Birding gossip down the M40 we, or rather they got down to some serious verbal abuse. It was done fairly, everyone got their fair share of insults. By the time we got to Oxford the initial signs of insult fatigue was setting in and when we were distracted by our first Red Kite just north of Newbury things had calmed down. Julian was making good progress with Adam navigating but we were brought to a sudden halt by an adult male Hen Harrier quartering fields near Petersfield.
The car park at our destination was full but there were surprisingly few people waiting for the Sparrow to appear, which it duly did as we joined them. It was partially hidden but its head pattern and colour was stunning. It then disappeared for nearly one and a half hours but it was worth the wait for the White throated Sparrow as it feed out in the open in front of us. Old Winchester Hill Nature reserve is a wonderful location and other birds seen there included Red Kite and Marsh tit. We had a little wander to look Ring Ouzels which had been seen earlier but with no success.
Decisions had to be made: there was talk of food, Burger King was mentioned but I'd been encouraged to purchase a Rowley's pork pie from the brewery by Steve Haynes the previous evening for just such an occasion. Timing was everything. The team planned to go back via Farmoor Res. to get the Bonaparte's Gull and stop just before Oxford - I couldn't wait that long, the pie had to go.
We headed back, stopping off at Dix pit not far from Farmoor. We had Black necked Grebe, a pair of Scaup, Red Kite and a Little Egret in the Cormorant colony. When we got to Farmoor birders were starting to assemble for the Gull roost. There was time for a bit of general Birdwatching as we waited for the Bonaparte's to appear with a White wagtail as well as a number of Pied, Yellow and a Grey Wagtail. Over the water was a good number of Common tern and 4 Little Gulls. Just as well there was something else to see as the Bonapartes failed to appear as dusk fell. No complaints though, we'd seen alot of interesting birds during the day and had a bit of fun!