Portland Heights Birdwatching Breaks
Saturday October 27th Monday October 29th 2007
click here for a list of species seen over the weekend
Saturday October 27th
Weather: Overcast with occasional light rain.
Lodmoor RSPB Reserve 1130
We nearly missed the first star bird of the weekend when a Merlin flew high overhead and almost immediately disappeared behind some trees. Next was a Great Spotted Woodpecker which although distant gave reasonable views in the telescope. Walking on to the reserve proper we started seeing marshland birds with plenty of Wigeon flying around and a close Little Egret. A Kingfisher gave a brief view as it flew off, to the annoyance of a local who had spent years trying to see one!
Radipole RSPB Reserve 1400
With the water at low tide the first part of the reserve was full of birds and we really didnt know where to look first. In a few minute we had seen good views of Water Rail, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe and a host of gulls including an immaculate adult Yellow-legged Gull. Bearded Tits were seen by one or two of the group, but the Cettis Warblers were only heard. The North Hide added another Kingfisher to our list as well as close views of Stonechat and Shoveler. A group of Roe Deer feeding in the marsh were the first mammals seen on the weekend. Walking back we found a smart adult Mediterranean Gull which on closer examination proved to be ringed. Through the telescopes we could just about read the number (which turned out to be 3T76 although we thought it was 3176). I have now heard that this gull was ringed as an adult in May 2006 in Antwerp, Belgium where it stayed until April 2007.
Sunday September 28th
Weather: Light rain pretty much continuously all day with occasional spells of heavy rain.
Portland Bill 0700
In a strong south-westerly wind it looked good for a sea watch and we werent proved wrong. Gannets and Guillemots were seen straight away and before long we had added Common Scoter to the list as well. Then a black swift-like shape appeared travelling fast over the water a Sooty Shearwater! Sadly it soon disappeared off to the east before we could all get a proper sight of it, but the next passer-by was far more co-operative. Great Skuas never spend long off Portland Bill but the one that we saw at least spent a minute or so bullying a flock of gulls just off the coast.
East Weares 0930
With the wind getting up and the rain setting in we decided that we would investigate the more sheltered eastern side of the island. After spending several minutes trying to decide if a fishermans bouy was really a seal or not we walked along the old railway line and found the real thing a huge bull Grey Seal resting in the sea just off the rocks below us. Near it was a flock of Black-headed Gulls that included 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls. Overhead a Peregrine appeared before settling on the cliff-face just above us and allowing us to obtain some excellent views through the telescopes. In total 4 different species of raptor were seen with Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard as well as the Peregrine.
As we arrived at our lunch stop we could see that there were several hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese present. Closer examination revealed a number of Mediterranean Gulls (perhaps 10) and a variety of waders including some very tame Turnstones and a solitary Grey Plover.
Chesil Cove 1400
We were expecting some wind-blown seabirds here but had to be content with another bull Grey Seal and some Rock Pipits.
Portland Castle 1500
Another disappointing stop with just a few more Turnstones for our efforts.
The Nothe 1530
We took advantage of the shelter provided by the Nothe Fort and walked out to the end of the Stone Pier, where we found yet more Turnstones and a lot of gulls, including 2 Mediterranean Gulls and plenty of Common Gulls.
Monday October 29th
Weather: Bright sunshine all day but with a cool north-westerly wind
Portland Bill 0700
In much better weather than yesterday there were fewer seabirds but more landbirds at The Bill including a very late Wheatear. We were able to compare migrant Meadow Pipits with the resident Rock Pipits and one of the group managed a glimpse of a Black Redstart just before we left for breakfast.
Morden Bog, 1030
We started seeing Dartford Warblers here as soon as we reached the heathland, and continued seeing them all morning, with something like 10 different birds being seen in total. Buzzards were also much in evidence as were Stonechats and Meadow Pipits. The lake in Morden Park added Pochard to our list and also held lots of Little Grebes. As well as birds we saw lots of fungi including these Sulphur-tufts and this particularly fine Fly Agaric.
Arne RSPB Reserve, 1400
As is often the case here lunch was difficult to concentrate on as there were so many birds to see around the car park, with Marsh Tit and Nuthatch both showing well. Our walk through the woods to Shipstall Point hide produced relatively few birds but plenty of fungi and some good views of Sika deer including some stags calling out their strange territorial squeak. Reaching the coast we found a good range of estuarine birds including Red-breasted Merganser, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. The walk back will be remembered mostly for the best views of Siskin all weekend and the beautiful late afternoon sunlight on the trees. A Buzzard hovering over the fields not far away from us was a fine end to a great days birding.
Below: Parasol Mushroom (left) and Pestle Puffball (right)
Hoping to see you all again soon,