A bright and blustery morning in early spring often provides great conditions for seeing displaying raptors in the New Forest, and today was no exception. The highlight was a Goshawk seen distantly as it displayed over its territory using slow exaggerated wingbeats, while a pair of Buzzards used the wind to their advantage as they engaged in spectacular aerial display overhead (pic below). A couple of Sparrowhawks were also noted, and what may have been the same (presumed) off-duty Raven was recorded three times in and around a known territory.
Of local interest, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull moving determinedly northeast was likely to be my first long-distance migrant of the year (some species that are short-distance migrants are already on territory, e.g. Woodlark). Lesser Black-backed Gulls mostly winter in southern Spain and northwest Africa, but birds start moving back to breeding areas this month - between now and early April small numbers trickle overhead in a rather diffuse migration that is easy to overlook. It’s only really noticeable because this species is rarely seen over the central New Forest outside of the migration period. Migrant Meadow Pipits will also be arriving any day now, but again can be easy to overlook due to the presence of wintering birds on the forest. Further signs that spring is already gathering pace!