The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Tickled Crimson!

Today turned out to be much more wildlife-filled than I expected.  Not only did Ferrybridge produce some good stuff first thing, but I was also able to do some extensive migrant-finding around the centre of the island in the afternoon.

First though, Ferrybridge was visited before work, and although it seems not at all promising when the tide is high, I always feel it's worth looking at, as it proved today.  On arrival there was a nice gathering of 50 Brent Goose out on the Fleet, which I wondered if they'd just arrived.  As I stood there though, another couple of flocks numbering 100 each careered in over Chesil Beach, and made for a grand sight.  Amongst them was a bird with noticeably paler flanks, though I never saw it's belly.  This is presumably the pale-bellied Brent seen later by others.

There was a constant racket of Meadow Pipit calling whilst I was there, and I managed to find the reason for their consternation eventually.  A Merlin was flying higher and higher over Wyke, attempting to get above the frightened flock.  About time I got one!

Also present were a couple of late Sandwich Tern and a few Bar-tailed Godwit in the shallows.

After work and lunch, I wanted to make a concerted effort to thrash the centre of the island for migrants (still with Yellow-browed in particular at the forefront of my mind - I'd really rather not twitch one!).

I first of all checked out Barleycrates Lane, and the gathering of birds from two days ago on the horse fields was still very much present, in fact probably swollen.  It was great to see so many Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail still around in particular.  Also a distant Whinchat seen.

I then moved onto Suckthumb Quarry, where a large number of Blackcap and Chiffchaff were still around, along with a few Whitethroat.

Just after flushing various unidentified carpet moths from an Ivy clump, I noticed a totally unfamiliar white moth flitting around the place.  It was very jumpy, and I was on the verge of giving up on it, when it landed on a Buddleia flower.  A look through the bins, and it was obviously a Crimson Speckled!  A very gaudy and rare migrant species.  I then had to creep through Brambles and Nettles to get to the spot, to try and get some photos.  It wasn't easy, but just as I was getting close enough, it took flight and whizzed over the top of the bush!  I was not immediately able to get after it, and an extensive search of the area revealed a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat, but no moth.  Very frustrating that this was the best shot I could manage (don't try and expand it, it won't help!).


After that success, I wanted to be on a roll, and emulate it on the ornithological side of things. 

My next journey took me along Watery Lane, which is an area I had not explored before, and I have to say it's got plenty of rarity potential!  One particular grassy-edged playing field looked particularly nice.  Whilst walking through here I thought it had started raining, that's until I realised the noise was created by the swarms of Crane Flies bumbling through the grass!  No wonder there were lots of Starlings and the like around.

Onto that nice spot from a previous day next.  The railway cutting at Perryfields.  More of the same here, including the Redstart still about.

I finally did a big loop incorporating Yeolands Quarry, Bumpers Lane, and Bottomcombe Quarry. 

It's incredible to think where birding takes you!

The only new thing seen in all of these was a Tree Pipit heard flying over with some Mipits.  My latest ever.  Also trillions more Blackcap and Chiffchaff!

On the way home I found the Portland tick of Musk Mallow.

I enjoyed today massively!

The lack of wind today was the key in being able to see so many of the birds in the bushes, though sadly, that seems to be increasing for the next few days.  Perhaps seawatching might be the only option?

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