Sunday, 31 May 2015

Portland Bird Observatory weekend 29 - 31.05.15

Early Friday morning and I was setting off for a weekend at Portland Bird Observatory, Dorset.
Bird Observatory on the right, the lower lighthouse

Portland Bill
Basically, taking the M25 into account, a 3.5 hour journey, plus breakfast stop, so I was at Ferrybridge at the eastern end of The Fleet by 9a.m. Very windy and a few regular waders were about before I headed off to the Bird Obs. Once I had dumped my gear in the room, a brief sea watch from the patio before heading off to The Bill. Here, as expected, year listers in the shape of numerous guillemot, many razorbill, regular shag fly bys, and out to sea, a single great northern diver and a regular flow of manx shearwater.
Pair of linnets bathing in the observatory garden pond

1 of 100's of guillemots at The Bill

2 more

shag heading back to the cliffs

feeding razorbill

diving razorbill, note use of wings.

crashing waves at The Obelisk

rock pipit
Common buzzard over the Crown Estate fields

A good start. From here, I checked local wood at Culverwell, but nothing noteworthy so off to The Hump and Suckthumb Quarry. Here, I scored with another year lister, spotted flycatcher. From here, I thought I would give the reported purple heron half an hour to show. It didn't and was seen leaving Lodmoor at 9pm that evening.
male kestrel at Ferrybridge

little egret and shelduck: Ferrybridge

common terns; Lodmoor

No further reports as far as I am aware. Another check en route of Ferrybridge before heading back to the obs, where I got a drive by view of a whinchat near Culverwell. Year lister again. The rest of the day was spent at The Bill and around the fields near the Obs as my feet are still recovering from Dengue Fever caught last month in Sri Lanka. Very swollen big toe made walking uncomfortable. I finished off with a sea watch from the patio, where more Manx and gannets were noted.
The following morning broke bright, warm and much calmer and a sea watch from The Bill at 5.45 added fulmar to the year list as well as more of what was seen yesterday. I then checked Culverwell again, coming across 2 spotted flycatchers and a magpie robbing a blackbird nest. From here, over to Top Fields and the west cliffs. Stonechats, meadow pipits and ravens showed well, as did more fulmars and several kittiwakes. 2 of the male stonechats were ringed but I couldn't get a clear enough photo to read these.
meadow pipit: Top Fields

Ringed male stonechat: West Cliffs

A bag of chips at The Bill and then back to the obs for a check to see if anything was new; there wasn't, so off to The Hump again and another Ferrybridge check. Here, a summer plumaged sanderling out paced some rapid ringed plovers whilst 2 turnstones decided it was quicker to fly the 50 metres covered by the sprinters. It wasn't! Little egret, gulls got on to the trip list but little else of note. I always think the area around Suckthumb Quarry, with its overgrown buddleia and red valerian looks great for warblers and flycatchers and I wasn't disappointed. 2 more spotted flycatchers and then a surprise. I looked to the side of a buddleia bush and there was another spotted flycatcher. On 2nd look I noted white wing patch and the 3 white lines emanating from a the patch; a female pied flycatcher, another year lister and a pleasing bird to find so late into May.
Spotted Fly: The Hump

checking for insects to its right

Tweets were sent off and then back to the obs. I slowed down as a bird was perched in exactly the same spot as yesterday's whinchat and, I thought, a photo opportunity. However, as I approached, it was clearly a whitethroat, so back to the patio for a sea watch before a doze as I planned to be out with the net for moths. I had tried this on the previous night and scored a disasterous blank apart from a good view of the resident little owl. However, once again, the night turned cold, breezy and bright, so after some food, a quick trip to the Pulpit pub over the road.
hunble house sparrow in superb plumage near the Pulpit pub
Solitary guillemot and shag: West Cliffs

many more guillemots

This morning, Sunday, I awake to fog and heavy rain, so a lie in. Eventually, I was up for coffee at 6.15 and very little on the sea apart from gannets and a couple of common scoter. 2 flocks of swift and a swallow came in off , but by 9.30 it looked like nothing was going to be new, so I headed home, with a brief check at Ferrybridge and Avon Country Park where I heard a few regular warblers, but nothing else. M3 was chockablock, so a 4 hour journey home!
Cracking weekend, always great to stay at Portland and with a holiday camping in Weymouth coming up at the end of June, I am sure I shall pop in on a few occasions. Thanks to warden Martin and assistant warden Glen for making it such an enjoyable weekend. Cheers.



Species list:
great northern diver, fulmar, manx shearwater,gannet, shag, little egret,grey heron, mute swan, canada goose, shelduck, (10 sp) mallard, gadwall, shoveler, tufted duck, common scoter, red kite (M25) marsh harrier, common buzzard, sparrowhawk, kestrel, (20 sp) red legged partridge, pheasant, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, ringed plover, sanderling, turnstone, black headed gull, herring gull, (30 sp) great black backed gull, kittiwake, sandwich tern, common tern, guillemot, razorbill, wood pigeon, collared dove, little owl, swift, (40 sp) skylark, rock pipit, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, wheatear, house martin, swallow,(50 sp)  whinchat,  stonechat,song thrush, blackbird, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, sedge warbler, reed warbler, cetti's warbler, (60 sp) chiffchaff  spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, great tit, blue tit, magpie, jay (A31) jackdaw, carrion crow, raven, (70 sp) starling house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, bullfinch,

77 species with 9 year listers. Considering very few migrants were arriving, a pleasing result.

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This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander