The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Balearic Weather

Well, the weather continues to feel like we are in the Mediterranean, and the birds off the Bill are matching.  This is just a quick update from the last four days, that have not had a great deal individually going on to warrant their own posting.


I had another quick look at Ferrybridge in the morning, but there was virtually nothing there of any note.

After work I headed for the Bill to see if I could add to the impressive morning tally of Balearic Shearwater, which could obviously not tell the difference between here and the Med.  On arrival there was a bird on the sea, and I watched it for some time diving for food.  They stayed under for much longer than I expected!  Later on another bird flew by, but the only other notable sighting was a flock of 11 Common Scoter.

Whilst I was here I also checked the Obs moth trap, but there was only one notable, but that was a lifer of this Ruddy Carpet.  Shame it's a dull example.

The early-morning look at Ferrybridge yet again produced little.
The same as yesterday for the afternoon, as I watched from the Bill.  No more Balearic Shearwaters were forthcoming, but a little flurry mid-session produced 12 Manx Shearwater, 4 'Commic' Tern, and 2 Dunlin, all east.  On the way back to the Obs, I saw a juvenile Wheatear, dodging the tourists in the Bill quarry.  A locally-bred bird? 
Just by the Obs quarry, I was watching a bush that was full of birds, Whitethroat, Greenfinch, and House Sparrow.  I then noticed the Sparrow looking up.  If a bird is looking up, you need to as well, as it often means it's keeping an eye on a raptor!  A couple of looks around, and I eventually found a Peregrine stooping in towards the Crown Estate Field.  It must have it's eye on something I thought.  I was rather surprised to find the object of it's attention was a juvenile Cuckoo which escaped to safety in the Obs front garden!  I'm not sure whether it was just mobbing the Cuckoo in a 'must-mob-any-raptor' (they resemble raptors anyway) mentality, or if it was after a meal.  They definitely prey on Cuckoos on occasion.  Either way, it was a weird string of events that turned a Sparrow looking up, into a sighting of a Cuckoo!
I noticed the place was starting to look really parched.  This view of the Bill Common.

The only birding done today was in the early morning, when before work, I popped into Lodmoor, largely to see some old friends from Surrey, who were of course there to see the Sandpiper.
I found them no problem, and we set about looking for the little scamp.  Almost the first bird I saw was the Radipole Red-crested Pochard flying in from that direction, circling, before returning.  I didn't expect that!  On the scrapes by the viewing shelter was a few Common Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper, and lots of Shelduck.
Mark Leitch eventually found the White-rumped Sandpiper on the western scrape with Dunlin, so we all headed round there.  While we were there getting great views, a flock of four Crossbill flew over heading east.  Also here was three summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, and a Little Ringed Plover.  Great to see the Tice's Team again!
I headed out bright and early down to the Bill, stopping off at the Obs.  There was a nice selection of moths in the trap including a Pinion-streaked Snout, and a Magpie, which I haven't seen in a long time.

This pale form of Clouded Brindle.

And even a Green-veined White butterfly!  I knew butterflies occassionally appeared in moth traps, but this was the first time I'd seen it.

As soon as I sat down at the Bill, I found 3 Balearic Shearwater going by at medium distance.  Coupled with an obvious presence of Mediterranean Gull, the place had a very Majorca-like feel!  Despite this initial excitement, it proved to be just a flash in the pan, and the next hour and a half passed by with just 3 Manx Shearwater and a Black-headed Gull seen!

A subsequent walk down the east cliffs produced little interest, except this smart white-form of Greater Knapweed.

Looks like there is some rain in the forecast for the next few days. Yay!

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