So, a few days approaching at half term when you can get some birding done. Do you a) want the cold snap to continue so there’s a chance of some scarce birds being around due to the cold weather or b) want a clear dry warm spell so you can watch the usual stuff in comfort? Well for me it was unequivocally b, which makes me a fair-weather birder.
First up on Sunday morning was Portland Harbour, in warm still conditions birds were easy to pick out. From Castle Cove Yacht club were 3 Great Northern Divers, 3 Slavonian Grebes and 6 Black-Necked Grebes. The BNG’s were easy to pick out from the slavs because they were all in one close-knit flock whereas the Slav’s don’t seem to like each others company. From the National Sailing Academy there was another 3 Great Northerns and a Slav, and then from Portland Castle there was 2 Black-Throated Divers and another Great Northern (there may have been some double counting of these). A Shag and about 50 Red-Breasted Mergansers were year-ticks.
Then a family walk from Langton Herring down towards Herbury Gore, and round The Fleet to Rodden Hive and back to the village. A short muddy walk, but from the children’s moaning you’d have thought we were recreating The Battle of The Somme. Anyway, 15 Red-Legged Partridges and 10 Roe Deer on the way down to the fleet, then 15 Redshank with 3 Dunlin and a few Turnstone, and on the water over a hundred Wigeon, 7 Pintail, lots of other dabbling duck, and on Chesil Bank there was a Peregrine patrolling. A flock of about 50 Linnets and 30 Pied Wagtails were in one of the fields, and Robins were a constant accompanyment in the hedgerows by the Fleet.
On Monday morning a quick walk up to Radipole; a Creamcrown Marsh Harrier patrolling the reeds by North Hide, and a Water Rail washing itself at the egde of the reeds were highlights, but 30 Snipe were notable. We then went to Cogden beach, and on a flat sea had a Common Scoter and a distant Red-Throated Diver, identified by its frequent head-shaking in flight. I could just make out some Fulmars from the cliffs at West Bay .
The Tuesday morning and a couple of hours at Lodmoor. At the marsh by the seaward end of the path to Beachdown Way there was a Water Pipit - an embarrassingly long time since I last saw one - and a Green Sandpiper. A couple of Raven were beating up a Common Buzzard in the middle, and a Spoonbill was doing what Spoonbills do - sleeping. A site record for me was Coal Tit, and around the reserve was 215 Lapwing, another 32 Snipe, a Goldcrest and an adult Med Gull.
Finally we did our traditional walk round Portland bill, got Rock Pipit for the year and saw a Great-Northern Diver offshore, but there was no sign of the Purple Sandpipers today. Overall a good set of birds and all done in warm bright still weather - fantastic.
A few shots from the walk round the Fleet.