The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

By the Will of Godwit

With a day off, I was intending to get up early and get out to thrash the bushes and fields, before settling down for a seawatch, so set the alarm clock for 5. 

By 7:45, I decided I better get up.  I looked out the window, and was glad to see I made the right decision with the impromptu lie in. Fog!

I eventually got down the Bill, but unlike yesterday, it was just as hopelessly gloomy as Weston.  All I could do was hang about the Obs till it lifted.  At least I had the opportunity to scrutinise a selection of the overnight moth catch.  The only (macro) lifer amongst them was a Garden Dart.  I have to say I disputed the ID a little, as I thought it matched the picture of Square-spot Dart better, but I've not seen either, so what do I know!
Sorry for the hopeless shot, but this is always going to be a highlight when caught, the extraordinary Chinese Character.  I'll try and get a better shot of this 'bird dropping' another day!

Also notable was this Pinion-streaked Snout.  Despite it's size, it's a macro.

Due to being one of the only ones stupid enough to be actually out scrambling through the fields or down the Bill in the path of the 'Haemoroids' (see post 'I'm not Lulworthy'), and not sitting around at the obs, I rarely get to see any of the birds 'in hand'.  So, it was nice to see this Willow Warbler (the first of the autumn in the nets) this morning, courtesy of Joe.

Well, by this time it had cleared a little, and a Balearic Shearwater passing the Obs was my cue to get down to the Bill.  Despite Joe's suggestion that they may be 'streaming past', it was business as usual!  I managed to see 8 Balearic and a few Common Scoter and Manx Shearwater pass, but that's all that could be found.  I bumped into Mark Leitch down there, and he had seen another 7 Balearics before my arrival.
After I reported all that stuff to the Obs, I thought I'd take a short walk down the East Cliffs.  The highlights here were my first in-flight Hummingbird Hawk-moth (i.e. not in a moth trap) for some time, and as promised before, I got some shots of the drupe-resembling Strawberry Clover seed-heads.

This afternoon, I decided I didn't want to be stuck indoors, despite my lack of dynamic ideas, so had a stroll round the Barleycrates Lane area next to the flat.  A short way into the walk, I was quite astonished when the Black-tailed Godwit that had been reported earlier flew into view.  All I saw of the report was 'Ice Blackwit - Weston', which could have easily meant a fly-over for instance, so didn't have any expectations of re-finding it.  It settled in a sheep field, and I went back home for my scope.  It was still present and feeding pretty happily on my return, despite some farm workers in the next field.  I managed to get a few decent record shots, of a species which is pretty rare on Portland (and virtually unknown outside of Ferrybridge).  The deepness of the red colour (not so obvious in these washed out pics) and the fact that it extends onto the flanks, make it a bird of the sub-species islandica.

The weather is looking a bit better in the coming days, though not so good for seawatching. But, how can that get much quieter!


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