The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Everywhere and Everything

I've been quite widely-travelled today, visiting every corner of the island in my quest for migrants!  There's something for everyone in this post.

I headed out first thing in the hope of bumping into some new migrants.  Well, having negotiated Barleycrates Lane, and seen nothing, I wasn't at all hopeful of any repeat of yesterdays fall.  I took a different route this morning, via Suckthumb Quarry, finding a gem of a mini woodland I had not visited before on the north edge.  There was at least a few Willow Warbler here, but nothing else.  On exiting the quarry, I heard the distinctive flight call of a Green Sandpiper, as it flew overhead (later seen over the Obs), though I failed to locate it.  A nice Portland tick! 

I moved up into Top Fields, and started to scan around.  A few more Willow Warblers were about, moving between clumps of bushes quite quickly.  A nice find in one of the horse fields here, was a few specimens of the dung-fungus Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea.

I scrutinised Culverwell as best I could, but I only found more Willow Warbler.  On the way down the road to the Obs, I again heard the flight call of a wader going over, this time a Redshank.  Yet again, I failed to find the bloomin' thing.  Are these waders higher than they sound?  It seems there had been quite a lot of wader migration activity today, as the Obs had also had LRP, Ringed Plover, Snipe, and a Wood Sandpiper!
On the way back, I went via Reap Lane and the West Weares.  On the path here I found 3 Wheatear together.  Probably the same as I had seen in the area the day before (joined by another).
On return home, I decided the next port of call had to be Ferrybridge, what with all this wader activity.  When I got there, the tide was almost fully in, which meant that the massed waders were all really close to the visitor centre, and appeared to be little bothered by people walking around.  An excellent opportunity to refine my phonescoping.  Despite the hope, there was actually little unusual, with around 150 Dunlin, 12 Sandering, 1 Turnstone, 2 Oystercatcher, 80 Mediterranean Gull, and the ever present Little Tern.  There was a steady southerly passage of Sand Martin, Swallow, and Swift.  A very strange sound turned out to be a Black-headed Gull choking!  It seemed to recover okay.
I think I've finally sorted the best settings for my scope and phone to produce the clearest shots, with no vignetting.
Ringed Plover
Mediterranean Gull (immature - ringed YAA2)

Black-headed Gull (also ringed) 

Mediterranean Gull (juvenile - 1 of 3)

 A mass of waders (notice the 2 Sanderling, centre right)

And finally, this was a rather fluky shot.  I'm not sure how I persuaded those Dunlin to line up with the Little Tern in front (the right hand bird's a juvenile)!

Earlier, I had bumped into the Saunders', and they had informed me that they had seen a Whinchat by the pools.  So, I followed this up by walking along the edge of the car park, back towards Portland a little way.  No sign of it.  Maybe it has crossed the road, I thought.  I'd walked halfway back towards the centre, when, bingo!  Shame I didn't have my scope at this point, so I had to make do with phonebinning, with poor results!  You'll just have to take my word for it.



This evening, I fancied a little more exploring, so checked out the area of Yeolands Quarry between Easton and Grove.  It's a fantastic little site, complete with two stands of reeds, presumably where ponds once were.  But, yet again, what really characterised the area was the sheer number of butterflies, particularly Chalkhill Blue!  How many can roost on one grass head?
And how many can you spot here?


(Answer: 7 - 6 males and 1 female)
I had a lovely walk around here, seeing loads of interesting moths as well, with the likes of Blood-vein and Pyrausta purpuralis on show.  I also almost bumped into a Fox!
Back to the old grindstone tomorrow, but I hope something rarer turns up for the afternoon.

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