The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Going Cuckoo (and Croak) in September

Nothing particularly dynamic in my head in terms of where to go this morning, but the fact that it's now September ain't half good for morale.  There was a spring in my step.

However, it may be September but the migrants didn't reflect that at all.  A few days ago would have been more apt.  Not only had I seen virtually no migrants by the time I got to the Obs, but the top birds I did manage to see from this area are not what you'd expect to see at this time of year.

Nonetheless, I did manage to find a Pied Flycatcher at Reap Lane and a Blackcap at the Hump, where a pair of lingering and squabbling Sparrowhawk saw to it that this migrant hot-spot of recent days was rather devoid of passerine life this morning.

On the West Cliffs I found all the Bramble bushes now coated with the larval tents of young Brown-tail moth caterpillars.

But, the Top Fields were at least teeming with Yellow Wagtails with 30 in one field accompanied by a nice juvenile White Wagtail (look at those pristine flanks!).

Around the same field was another Pied Flycatcher.
I got to the Obs and looked in the traps, but there was nothing of real note, though fresh Green Carpet are always worth a look.

The peace was rather interrupted here by a load of Powerboat racers zooming past.

The Crown Estate Field really is coming into it's own at the moment, and seems to be producing good birds everyday.  This morning I watched a Sparrowhawk hunting through it, and flushing a Cuckoo.  It went up to sit on posts and walls, but as usual, was being mercifully hounded by Magpies and the like, and soon disappeared again.  Quite probably the bird I found at the Hump a couple of days ago, and an excellent September record.
I took up position at the Obs Quarry, as everyone was looking rather watchfully into it.  It turned out they were watching a Lesser Whitethroat in close company of a Common Whitethroat for comparison, and a Sedge Warbler showed in addition.  As we were watching this, the croaking of the seemingly now resident Nightingale echoed round the quarry walls.  Soon, I finally got my first glimpse of this elusive bird.  It went on to show reasonably well, and I managed some short footage.

My route back was less convoluted to the route out (I was hungry!), and as a result I didn't see a lot extra, though a couple of Whinchat showed brilliantly.

In the corner of Coombefields Quarry I found an area of scattered corrugated iron.  Under one sheet I found a Field Vole, and a freshly dead Slow Worm.

The next two days both look totally clear (it was a little cloudy this morning), so I don't expect them to be particularly dynamic.  Though knowing my track record with predicting birds, they'll probably break records.  We can but hope!

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