Quest for 215

Although I have been interested in nature, in particular birds, for many years and have considered myself to be a birdwatcher for most of these years, I have not done as much birding in the past as I would have liked. This was in part due to the fact that when I was younger I thought about a career in the music industry, so set about spending most of my free time in bands. However (to cut a long story short) I’ve come to realise now I’m older that this will never happen, and that my interest in nature and conservation is a much better route to go down! While my love of music and brass bands will always be part of my life, I’ve started to spend more time birding and decided to set myself a bit of a challenge to make up for lost time, so to speak.

The RSPB’s Pocket Guide to British Birds “features 215 of the most common birds found in Britain”, so I thought I ought to set about trying to see them this year (and next year). Having no car and being a student means that I’m largely limited to the local area at present, and limited for time especially when there are deadlines and exams coming up. Finding some of these birds is therefore seeming to be difficult – Dippers, for example, aren’t found in Hampshire any more, and other species (White-tailed and Golden Eagles, Ptarmigans, Capercaillie…) are only really found in Scotland and the far north of England at the moment. That said, I did succeed in seeing a Tree Sparrow in Hampshire, which was a very nice surprise, so perhaps a Dipper will follow suit!

Trying to complete this challenge has proved very fun and has meant I’ve explored much more of Hampshire (and Dorset too) than I had previously and discovered many great places to go birding as a result – including the New Forest, which I must return to in due course! I have also found I’ve spent much more time at Titchfield Haven NNR, in an attempt to see these 215 species (and because I really enjoy visiting it as well!).

The 145th bird I managed to “tick” off this list (and my 155th species for the year) was a Black Tern – another more unusual bird for Hampshire, although I think there are always a number of Black Terns seen along the coast during the year. It had turned up at Titchfield Haven and has been flying around the South Scrape for the past week or so, and was even reported today.

Black Tern flying around Titchfield Haven

Black Tern flying around Titchfield Haven

It was good fun watching the Tern flying around the South Scrape but did make trying to get a photography a challenge!

Close up of the Black Tern, Titchfield Haven

Close up of the Black Tern, Titchfield Haven

It was also nice to see a couple of Mediterranean Gulls (the flying bird with all white primaries) around the South Scrape – a relatively common sight at Titchfield Haven and other parts of the south of England.

Mediterranean Gull & Black Tern

Mediterranean Gull & Black Tern

With exams over, I look forward to doing more birding during the summer in between work experience, bird ringing and visiting friends and family!

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