Thursday, 5 April 2012

Double-Dip Depression

 We stayed in the back of beyond yesterday, so had no signal. More of that later.

We spent a few minutes in the woods around the hostel, which didn't get us any good birds, but an overhead  squirrel pooed in Mary's eye! We decided to have a morning exploring a few Hampshire sites, starting off at Acres Down, which is apparently the best place to see raptors in the county (according to Where to Watch Birds in Britain). It was quite cold and overcast so we weren't optimistic but thought we'd give it a go. It did brighten up a bit so we gave it a while, but we we didn't see anything, not even a buzzard. It was a nice view though. Whilst keeping an eye out we also booked our accommodation for the night. There were 2 hostels close together in Dorking which was on our route, I read the summary info & they both sounded OK so I just picked one. I learned a valuable lesson……more later.

The raptor viewpoint (or not as the case may be) at Acres Down
Then we went to Beaulieu Road, an area of heathland to the East of Acres Down. As we walked up the track parallel to the railway line, we were impressed to see our first Swallow of the year fly by. There were also quite a few Curlew and a surprisingly large number of Reed Buntings. We had a Pipit that we think may have been a Tree Pipit, but it disappeared before we could make a positive ID. Mary did manage to fire off a few shots so hopefully when we download onto a large screen we may be able to decide if it was a Tree of just another Meadow Pipit. There were a few Siskins in the Car Park, but other than that nothing of note.

Beaulieu Road (although it isn't one)

Time for a spot of Twitching, so we headed to Calshot in search of the Spanish Sparrow that's been hanging about since the start of Jan. It hadn't been on Birdguides for about a week, but it's not been shown for a while before & then reappeared. 

We spent about 1 ½ hrs staring at House Sparrows. We chatted to a few friendly locals, including the lady who's garden Pablo had been frequenting. She came home after we'd been there a while, said she hadn't noticed him for a while & checked her garden for us. He wasn't there. 

The Spanish Sparrow aka Pablo Was Here....

Hawfinches had been seen in Lakeside Country Park, Eastleigh (Hampshire) which was almost on our route. We decided to give it a try. We did, and despite our best efforts didn't find any. 

Dipping is becoming a bit of a Lakeside County Pk

We set off towards our hostel at Tanners Hatch. We received a phonecall from the warden giving us directions, which has never happened before. This is when we discovered the bad news….

This is the bit I'd read about the hostel:

"This picturesque self-catering cottage in National Trust woodland is a relaxing rural retreat for a countryside activity break. Set in the Surrey Hills, with a network of footpaths and bridleways on the doorstep, the hostel is ideal for walking and cycling holidays"

This is the bit that I hadn't:

"The hostel is 0.75 miles down an unlit and unsurfaced track, so please bring a torch. Customers can unload at the hostel (by pre-arrangement), but the nearest parking is 0.75 miles away. All washrooms are outdoors"

A few expletives were uttered as it was getting late. It took ages to find the entrance to the incredibly rough track to the hostel even with the warden's directionsl. No one is allowed to park there, so I dropped off Mary & the bare minimum of kit & drove back in the dark to leave the car in a National Trust Car Pk. I was not looking forward to the walk back in pitch black in the woods, so was relieved when another chap parked up to walk down to the hostel. 

It is actually quite a nice place to stay, but not when it's just a quick stop over. It was an experience to say the least with its triple decker bunks & outside loos & showers.

At least there was gas & electricity & even ice cubes....

.....and comprehensive H & S info (we were on the 1st floor)

At least we added Tawny Owl to the trip list & Mary's Year List as it was calling as we unloaded the van. 

My Year List 162 + 1
Mary's Year List on 103 +1

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