The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Monday, 30 September 2013

Grotfinch, Wotfinch?

Previous days

Not a great deal to relate from Dorset from the last 6 days, as I've been either working, or off elsewhere.

My couple of visits to Ferrybridge on the way to Bridport haven't produced much, except a varying number of Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail over, and my first Grey Plover of the autumn here. 

On Friday afternoon I was determined to find something of note on the island, despite the fierce wind (though being easterly, it did have some promise).  But, my checking of Lancridge (that I thought'd be sheltered, but it wasn't!), Old Hill, Penn Castle Woods, and Wakeham produced nothing of interest on the bird front.  This nice Dark Bush-cricket was the only highlight at Wakeham.


Over the weekend, I returned to my old stomping ground of Surrey in preparation for my leading of a coach trip to Keyhaven on Sunday.  I was therefore able to make a visit to my old patch, Tice's Meadow, on Saturday afternoon.
Great to see the old place is still producing the goods, as a Little Stint was present, only the third site record.  It was very mobile about the workings, and was also often chased by the Lapwing!
The other highlights from my 4 hour vigil here were a late-ish Hobby, and Green and Common Sandpipers.
The coach trip on Sunday with the RSPB Guildford group went very well, with 52 people heading around Keyhaven Marshes.  The weather was kind, and we amassed a list of 89 between us, quite possibly a record for the group.  The highlight was a very showy Spotted Redshank, but we also enjoyed the likes of Raven, Greenshank, Water Rail, Kingfisher, and Hobby.  One couple saw a Marsh Harrier and one lucky (and very reliable) member had a Woodcock fly past them! 
This was my first outing as a leader for a coach trip, and I really enjoyed it.  I think it went rather well!
I got back home from Surrey late morning, and with messages reporting a decent fall on the island, I wanted to get out immediately.   
I also had to do some dreaded shopping, so I decided to combine the two!  I went to Tescos, and walked from there.  With the number of Yellow-browed Warbler around the country, and with one seen at the Obs earlier, any patches of Sycamores were the focus of my attention.
I walked from the car park along the path towards Perryfields Quarry, then along the old railway cutting onto Yeolands Quarry and back via Bumpers Lane.
There were Blackcap everywhere, and a similar number of Chiffchaff too.  I came across a particular migrant hotspot at Perryfields, where the bushes were jumping with stuff!  This included a single female Redstart, a Whitethroat, and a Spotted Flycatcher.  The wonderful area:
The rest of the walk didn't really live up to that benchmark, but there had certainly been quite a fall of Blackcap and Chiffchaff everywhere.  I hate to think how many there were on the whole island!
A message from Martin that the juvenile Common Rosefinch (sometimes nicknamed 'Grotfinch' for it's very plain appearance!) from previous days was showing again, had me heading down to the Obs mid-afternoon.
The bird had apparently been associating with the garden House Sparrow flock, but a two hour vigil viewing the edge of the Obs garden failed to produce it.  It would be a lifer, and I'm hoping (no matter how boring it's looks!) that it will show again in subsequent days.
The visit was enlivened first by Joe showing us a Grasshopper Warbler he'd caught.
And secondly from my viewing of the moth traps, which produced a lifer amongst other highlights.  The new one was the migrant, the well-named Delicate.
Other goodies included the striking Black Rustic.
And the quite common Large Ranunculus.
I took the route back home via Barleycrates Lane, and was quite astonished to see the small horse field by the entrance carpeted with birds.  Amongst the 50 Pied Wagtail were one or two White, 5 Yellow (if I see one tomorrow it will be my latest ever, same applies for Whitethroat), and 10 Wheatear.  Also in with the Wagtails was one rather striking individual, which I initially thought looked good for a 1st-winter Citrine.  Then I realised it had a yellow vent, and closer inspection also revealed dark lores.  With such a grey back, I can only think it's some sort of 'eastern' Yellow Wagtail.  I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't at least try to get a photo.  Maybe tomorrow.
Back to Bridport this week, and Ferrybridge will yet again be rubbish due to the tides.  Oh well, I guess I'll have to make do with twitching other peoples finds on the Island in the afternoons.  Hopefully they'll be plenty to choose from, as we enter the best time of year!


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