The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Saturday, 13 July 2013

I'm not Lulworthy!

I didn't have great conviction when I set out this afternoon, straight out into the inferno once again (when will it end?).  I didn't think there'd be much going on bird-wise, and there wasn't, so I decided the only course of action was some seawatching from the Bill.

First though, I had to take the regulation look at the obs moth trap.  Still absolutely packed in there, but just the one highlight really, of Britain's largest moth, Privet Hawk-moth.

Onwards to a seawatch.  The Bill was alive with tourists, as you can imagine on a Saturday like this.  I'm not sure how I avoided people asking me what I was watching (or 'haemoroids' as one of the Portland regulars calls them - they come in groups, and they're a pain in the arse!), but most of the time my answer would have been ''sea'' anyway.

The small amount of interest was provided by a flock of 20 Common Scoter, a Sandwich Tern, and 2 Mediterranean Gull, all east.  The highlight was a 2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull, west.

I thought I'd just pop into the obs to report that stuff.  No-one was around, and I noticed on the sightings sheet, someone had written ''probable Richard's Pipit in field below coastwatch''.  As improbable as that sounded at this time of year, I had to go and check it out. I had run out of ideas as to what to do next anyway!

I stumbled about the top fields around the coastguards, finding little in the way of birds.  The field I think they meant is really in an awkward position, and can't be viewed easily, so either they walked over to it (not sure what the access situation is here), or they saw the bird by the path, and it flew over to there.  Either way, there was no sign of anything looking like a Dick's.  However, the walk did have it's compensations.  First of all, I found a good number of Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets with their commoner cousins.

This shot, I believe, proves it is the Narrow-bordered.

And, both the Narrow-bordered Five-spot and Six-spot together.

Some rustling in the grass, alerted me to this huge Brown Rat, which was too busy rummaging around in a hole to notice me!

 He scarpered a split second after this shot was taken though!


A brand new plant here was Lucerne.
Ever since I came onto the island, I have been double-checking every Skipper I see, and today that paid off.  My first ever Lulworth Skipper was extremely jumpy, so this was all I could manage by way of a photograph.

I saw on Twitter that Keith Pritchard (@portlandbirder) was going on his usual walk this evening along the East Weares, and was inviting anyone to join him.  So, I met up with Keith on a beautiful and still evening, and headed out onto the Weares.  The bird highlights were one of the juvenile Peregrine begging it's father for food, a few Common Scoter offshore, and a pair of Bullfinch.  Not a great deal out of the ordinary then.  However, we did have one of those 'ones that got away' moments.  We heard, deep inside a bush, a thin warbling sub-song that neither of us could recognise.  We held a vigil there for some time, but whatever it was steadfastly remained hidden.  The best way I can describe it, is the speed of a Dartford Warbler, but with the tone of Goldcrest.  Listening to a few songs on the web, the best matches appear to be Subalpine, or even better, Greenish Warbler.  Lets hope that Keith and his mate John are able to track it down tomorrow morning.  A Portland plant tick here was Vervain.

Thanks to Keith for leading me round his brilliant patch.  I urge everyone to follow his excellent blog:


  1. Intrigued by the warbler, but more so Vervain! Didn't know it grew anywhere apart from our back yard (have a couple of plants in pots that managed to survive the past couple of winters). Makes a really nice refreshing night-time drink.

  2. That's interesting Neil. I'ts very much a wild plant, found on calcaereous grassland, usually on the edge of paths.