February isn't anyone's favourite month in which to spend one's birding vouchers. But its half term and I'm in Weymouth. And we have a dog, so now I have to take it for a walk first thing, so its a new challenge and a new list- Birds I've Seen Whilst Walking The Dog!
Friday am I took Elvis (yes that is his name) round Radipole; a trip noteable for being the least number of interesting bird I've ever seen at Weymouth, not even a peep from a Cetti's Wabler. Then Friday mid-day we hit the beach, and a scan over the perfectly flat Weymouth Bay produced a few Great-Crested Grebes, a distant Great Northern Diver, and an even more distant pair of Mute Swans.
Saturday morning I took Elvis to the Nothe. Again, the sea was perfectly flat. This is a mixed blessing; you can see further, but the birds have often disappeared out to sea. About a mile away in the habour by Sandsfoot Castle was a small flock of Black-Necked Grebes. Of course, I couldn't positively eliminate confusion species such as Slav Grebe, Little Grebe, Razorbill, any duck, GBBG, but they were in a small flock, and Slav Grebes don't flock like that in my experience. Slightly nearer was a Black-Throated Diver, which turned to show off a nice white thigh patch - birding made easy! Other birds were some Shags out to sea, a couple of Chiffchaffs, a Turnstone, and a few Redwings.
Finally, took D#2,3,4 and Elvis to the play park and then a homeward trip round Radipole. The RSPB is about to spend pots of money "improving" Radipole. Cleaning of ditches and dykes prevents silt build up and makes for better habitat, and better hunting for Bitterns and Marsh Harriers. A Sand Martin Bank, a field cleared of scrub for waders such as Snipe, Lapwing, etc. I'd like more scrapes for passing waders, but they feel Lodmoor does that better. The plan makes sense I guess, and is already paying dividends with a few Bitterns this winter and breeding Marsh Harriers. And where else do you get the chance to walk out of your front door and see three male Bearded Tits just twenty yards away, sat out in the sun devouring seeds on the heads of Rushes, as we did on the way back?