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These are records and photographs contributed to the Nature of Dorset by nature enthusiasts from across the county. If you would like to contribute there is a guide as to how HERE.
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Having tracked down some more regular 'tweeters' of wildlife sightings in Dorset the second month of the recording project looks more promising than January! With twice as many records a look at the list of 106 species shows just how remarkable the diversity of birds over wintering in Dorset is. In just one month there were twelve of what I would term rare vagrants that one would not expect to see and a further twenty eight species that are more familiar but still scarce in general terms.
The list of vagrants included the lesser yellow-legs that arrived at Lychett Bay in January and stayed the whole month and which was joined by another American species, a green-winged teal. Cattle egrets turned up in various parts of the county and a couple of great white egrets were at Longham Lakes for quite a while. Gulls are known winter wanderers and the rare Kumliens Gull made a short visit and so too did an Iceland gull and a ring-billed gull. A small number of waxwing appeared around locations in Poole and a rose-coloured starling spent some time on roof tops in Dorchester. Portland is the usual place for real rarities and provided a hume's warbler for the list and Abbotsbury boasted long staying Richard's pipits. A couple of Siberian chiffchaffs were found too.
Out at sea great northern divers were quite frequently seen along with red-throated and black-throated divers. Black-necked and Slavonian grebes were also seen frequently along with common scoter. Two long-tailed ducks stayed for some time at Abbotsbury and a good selection of waders where found at various locations, the most notable species being spotted redshank, purple sandpiper, knot and ruff.
The abundance of wintering birds helped boost the numbers of birds of prey hunting them! Eight raptors were recorded in all with merlin, kestrel, peregrine, buzzard, marsh harrier, hen harrier, short-eared owl and barn owl all making the monthly chart. Not all were feeding on waders of course! Not birds of prey but in a similar vein there were a couple of great grey shrikes seen during the month.
Away from birds there were various mammal sightings, the otters at Blandford continued to entertain the crowds in broad day light and visitors to Brownsea of course saw the delightful resident red squirrels. There were also records of roe deer, red fox and grey squirrel. The record of an adder revealed just how early in the year these snaked can emerge if the weather is mild and hibernating red admirals can also awake if the weather is kind and one was recorded in February, so too were drone flies, Eristalis tenax and, again, like the adders and the red admiral, February seemed very early for them.