Monday, August 27, 2007

More Portland

The Dipperettes have taken a liking to Portland Bill. A bracing walk along the cliffs, some excellent artery-clogging fare from the CafĂ© and a quick game of cricket. Somewhere in all this there’s a chance to sneak a look for passing birds and take some pics.

Last week we wandered up the cliffs, which are alive with flora slightly past their peak. One of these is Sea Samphire - any information on the others welcome. We didn’t get as far as the Autumn Ladies Tresses.

We saw some nice fossil shells in various blocks of rocks, and a smashing ammonite. We couldn’t take it home unfortunately. Not without making someone’s beach hut collapse.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ferrybridge 22 Aug

Couple of hours this morning. Lodmoor or Ferrybridge? In fact I could have gone anywhere today - even Radipole - and seen decent birds. I stuck the weather map for the 22nd up as a reminder; if I see this again at this time of year, get out birdwatching.

Ferrybridge won, and I was rewarded with a couple of Avocets drifting east over the back of the Chesil Beach, 3 Sanderling and the usual suspects on the beach, and a juv Black Tern in Portland harbour, with obvious movement around (Wheatear at Small Mouth, for instance).

But I felt strangely unexcited by it all. Probably because the Avocets were pointed out to me (I spent some time wondering if they weren't Gannets - no really - but wiser heads than me were satisfied), and the Black Tern likewise. I guess everyone goes birdwatching for different reasons, but for me the adrenalin of the moment of discovery, the uncertainty, and the challenge of identification is a big reason, and when everything is pointed out it loses a bit of the fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gulls that are common (not Common Gulls)

Anyone browsing pictures on the web for information on gulls in Britain would think that Med Gulls and Yellow-Legged Gulls were commonest, and wouldn’t know that Common Gulls existed.

So to start to remedy that I went down to the boating lake and clicked away at this year’s crop of Herring Gulls.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Weymouth Summary

Lodmoor: 5th 7:30 pm. 8th 8 am. 11th 8 am. Radipole 8th 5pm. Ferrybridge 5th 7:30 am. Maiden Castle 10th, Portland Bill 10th. Weather bright, hot, sunny all week. Usually clear blue skies. At last!

Cormorant. 1 immature at Radipole had clearly a fish which was still a visible bulge in its throat. It kept drinking water and standing on an emerged rock and stretching. Eventually it had had enough and barfed up the fish, which presumably swam off to count its blessings. I’d brought my camera but not my brains so missed the shot.
Little Egret a flock of 9 at Radipole, plus other isingles.
Grey Heron. Some of this year’s offspring were in evidence.
Knot. 1 beautiful moulting adult at Lodmoor on 8th. My first at Lodmoor?
Oystercatcher. 2 ad and 1 juv at Lodmoor. One ad had muddy legs and beak from constantly finding worms, running the gauntlet of harassing BH Gulls, and presenting them to the juv to eat, which gulped them down then requested more. So it’s not just me that has a life like that then.
Black-Tailed Godwit c10
Redshank 2 Lodmoor
Wood Sandpiper, 2 at Lodmoor on 11th. As always, beautifully elegant birds that look like they should be somewhere a lot smarter than a grubby puddle.
Common Sandpiper 2-3 at Lodmoor
Sanderling 2 at Ferrybridge
Curlew 1 at Ferrybridge.
Snipe 1 at Ldmoor 11th.
Black-Headed Gull c200 at Lodmoor, including
Mediterranean Gull. At Lodmoor, 3 on 5th (2 1st winter + 1 juv), 1 on 8th (1 ad/3rd summer?), 0 on 11th, probably due to lack of interest. Searching for Med Gulls is one of those things that starts off as “I’ll have a quick look and see if I spot one”, and ends up on the 10th sweep going “come on you b******, I know you’re there, give yourself up!”
Common Tern. C10 left at Lodmoor, with most juvs flying.
Sparrowhawk 1 f at Lodmoor on 5th
Kestrel. 1 at Lodmoor 5th, 1 at Maiden Castle.
Peregrine. The waders at Ferrybridge are used to disturbances, so when every bird on the south side headed off east like their lives depended on it, a raptor was clearly around. A minute later, a huge brown Peregrine came through like a rocket.
Yellow Wagtail 2 at Lodmoor on 11th
Pied Wagtail c20 Lodmoor.
Wheatear 3 at Maiden Castle.
Stonechat. 1 at Maiden Castle.
Skylark 2 at Maiden Castle.
Hirundines. Good numbers of Swallows and House Martins throughout.

Finally, D#2 looked up from taking guard at Portland Bill expecting his father to be preparing to bowl at him, only to see me running madly after a butterfly. It was big, like a Painted Lady yet not a Painted Lady. Given there have been a few sightings of Large Tortoiseshell, this is one that got away.

favourite bird

In Weymouth this week with the family. Will write up later, but meanwhile one of my favourite birds turned up at Lodmoor.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...