A brief glimpse of a Barn Owl near Oxford as we travelled south to Hampshire was a good start to a very long day adding 2 Red Kite, Little Egret and Little Owl by the time we arrived at our first port of call Calshot where we had excellent views of the Spanish Sparrow. Some argue that its credentials are questionable either helped or hindered by the presence of a Dark-eyed Junco at Hawhill Inclosure where again good views were obtained. But what ever your views are who cares – 2 good looking birds in the bag so now it was time to explore the surrounding New Forest area where we had Great Grey Shrike, Ferruginous Duck, Black Redstart, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine, Firecrest, Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Crossbill and Hawfinch. Unfortunately we missed Goshawk by seconds and ran out of time to see, Cattle Egret, Ring-billed Gull and Iceland Gull. Still with over eighty species recorded that is what I call a good day out.
No sooner home then it was out again to meet up with the boys in the pub at Cubbington with this and next years holidays high on the agenda then on the way home we trawled for owls managing a Barn Owl by the junction of the Fosse Way and Coal Pit Lane before parking up and doing a bit of star gazing on Lawford Heath. Despite the temperature dropping we had at least 15 Winter Moths flying around. The impressive constellation of Orion and especially the Orion nebula (M42) showed brilliantly while the open star cluster Pleiades (M45) more commonly known as the Severn Sisters revealed many of its 1400 members. Also worth looking at were Jupiter and Sirius. BBC Stargazing Live starts this Monday for three consecutive nights and in conjunction with this program many local astromany societies are holding there own events so well worth finding out what’s going on in your area. Clear sky’s are forecasted for the next few nights so get out there and enjoy.