What a difference a day makes, this morning was the total opposite to the previous one. We drove to Acre Down and had an excellent walk and saw some lovely birds including my favourite, a Wheatear, always makes my day! Add to that not only hearing but seeing a Cuckoo (excuse the poor photo but I was pleased to get one at all!) followed by a beautifully calling Willow warbler! A little bronze beetle crossed my path, hopefully we will identify it when we get home. Not bad that was two more year ticks before coffee time, although I don’t think we ever did get coffee yesterday now I think about it!
Of course the New Forrest id famous for its ponies but it shares the space with cows (more about one of them later) and in places donkey too!
After our visit to Acre Down we moved on, to Blackwater arboretum, approached via what is laughingly called an ornamental drive, I could think of a different name for it I think! We had hoped to see Crossbills there but were not lucky with them, we did however see some super birds including a couple of Redstarts and a lovely Firecrest.
After lunch we decided to return to Blashford Lakes to check if they had caught any interesting moths and to see what birds were around. It had been an extremely cold night and they had caught but one moth and not a very interesting one at that, sounded like many nights back home! We had seen Common terns the previous day in flight but now they were perching, much easier to see! Of course the ever faithful Robin was present, it is easy to take such birds for granted but aren’t they beauties?
We returned to the cottage and had decided that we would go out for a walk behind ‘our home’ as a farewell as in the morning we are off to pastures new. What a treat we had and here we come to the reason for todays title. We came upon a cow that had just given birth, she was an English White and had a male calf. The farmers, a couple who had been farming for many years and had a herd of about 90 cows on the heath and this one had wondered away from the rest a couple of days ago looking for a peaceful place to calf. They loaded the Mum onto a vehicle to get her back to the farm for some attention and later picked up the calf to carry him off too. But first we had quite a long chat about meat rearing etc. and it sounds as though cows like theirs have a far better life than many and in fact the calf will have a longer life than many, they said they keep theirs for four years before the inevitable end whereas many farms keep them about 18 months. Next we got on to the topic of milk production…something else to give serious thought to!
Now meet Oliver as yes I was invited to name him! It needed to be an O name and that was the first that came to my mind, probably sounds daft but it was a real treat!
Off for a good walk and views of the usual, Stonechats and Meadow pipits. We heard a Cuckoo call and almost immediately two flew in front of us, turned out to be a pretty good evening! Last trip outside the garden and a last look at the house in which our cottage stood.
Lack of internet means I have another day to add, I will then be caught us as this is todays report. Not many pictures but a few ticks! We left our cottage and said farewell to Ringwood and Blashford Lakes as we drove by and headed off to the pretty town of Fordingbridge and walked along by the river.
We saw a Grey wagtail but as neither of us had binoculars with us we were lucky to spot it, not till I looked at my photos did we realise there were a pair of them! Something flew out from the bank and to our delight it was a Sandpiper, we saw it several times and could see it was a Wood sandpiper, excellent another tick for our year. We were just about to go in for coffee when the pager alerted us to a Red-rumped swallow being at Blashford lakes, it would be a good tick for us both so we were off (I will be getting caffeine withdrawal symptoms soon!) On our arrival we discovered a lone birder had seen it and it had flown, agghhh! But wait, it was not too long before someone called it and indeed there it was, perched way out into the water but with scopes it was confirmed and all present go to see it that time. The warden was quickly fetched so he too could see it, I felt relieved for the chap who had first seen it as he was beginning to doubt himself! At the same place we also saw a Common sandpiper, our first Swift of the year and a distant group of Fallow deer.
As we were heading in Salisbury direction we decided to pay a fleeting visit to Stonehenge before going to our next place to stay. I feel it fair to say we are not quite so delighted to our present accommodation as our last!!! Maybe it will improve but as we are only here for two nights we will cope.
Bird count now stands at 183