The schools had an Inset day on Friday. Someone in Herts Council Education department is obviously a twitcher. Taking the hint I took D1 and D2 to Weymouth for a couple of days.
Portland was, we were told, a bird-free zone. So, free from the need to wait ages for a glimpse of a Sibe, we took a leisurely walk up the top fields, left to the west cliffs, back to the point, then back to the obs.
And there was action all the way. Firstly we had a fantastic female Merlin that did a couple of hunting sorties for us. Picked up dashing across a field, it twisted and turned after a starling, and then cruised around looking for prey. It was great to have the opportunity to take a good look at the flying style and hunting habits of Merlin at close quarters.
Then at the West Cliffs we had a few Stonechats, a Sparrowhawk, and a Wheatear.Down towards the Bill ours, and everyone else’s attention was turned by the Costguard helicopter hovering by the point. A stretcher went down, and then came up with a person clinging to the basket. Maybe a training exercise? Hope so.
Then from the Bill back to the obs we had a terrific Clouded-Yellow Butterfly, showing off the deep orange of the upper surface contrasting with the lemon-yellow undersurfaces. A couple of well marked Wheatears, a Grey Seal, and 4 Rock Pipits (do they migrate through here?). Finally at the obs a Brown Rat by the bird table.
All the time a trickle of Swallows going through, Meadow Pipits “tseep”ing around, and flocks of Starlings, Linnets, and House Sparrows. The obs recently got a few extra fields I think and the large passerine flocks may be a result of this.
In the evening we went into town. 100+ Pied Wagtails flew down the harbour, and an auk, probably a Razorbill, fished out in the middle. Then a first. Whilst we are used to being one of a few groups in a cinema for a Tuesday afternoon cartoon, for the duration of the 4:30 showing of “Run, Fat Boy Run” we were the only ones in the theatre.
The chopper in action, taken by D2