On an overcast morning, I cycled down to that staple for winter birding, Ferrybridge.
There was little of note on the mudflats themselves, with much smaller numbers of Brent Goose and Mediterranean Gull than last time. It was a similar story in Portland Harbour, where I failed to locate a single notable species, bar a female Common Scoter and at least 6 Razorbill. Red-breasted Merganser numbers had risen to around the 70 mark.
Just as Pete and Debby Saunders were arriving, I happened to look behind their car, and in the distance a pair of Diver were flying high over Chesil Beach. One was obviously bigger than the other, and they were a Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver. Not far behind them were two more Red-throats. They carried on over to the harbour, and thought about landing, but soon decided against it and carried on towards Weymouth Bay.
A few Redwing flew over, as did a Stock Dove, and at least 2 Song Thrush were heard on the deck, all fairly unusual at Ferrybridge. A high-flying flock of four Raven flew over (migrating?).
There was no way I was going to cycle back up Fortuneswell Hill, so instead pushed my bike along the footpath past Chesil Cove. Just like the last time I was here, a Water Rail squealed from the bushes.
One of the local Peregrine made a fly past as I made it home.
With my newly acquired car, came a fresh feeling of mobility, so I thought I would head over to Longham Lakes near Bournemouth, even though the bird on offer was not a lifer.
This was my first visit to the site, and I have to say it looks really nice. I can see why they get a few good birds.
Anyway, on arrival, I found a few forlorn-looking birders watching a reedbed, and no sign of my quarry. I was a little confused, as there were no reed-mace heads (the species favourite haunt) here, and the directions suggested the bird was in a different area entirely. So, I decided to leave the crowd, and walk towards what I felt should have been the correct area. As soon as I got to a small pool fringed with reed-mace, I knew I'd done the right thing, and indeed I soon found the 1st-winter Penduline Tit busy feeding. Funnily enough, these were almost the exact circumstances in which I saw/re-found my first Penduline (at Rainham)!
By now one of the other chaps had caught on that I had something and had arrived, and we both watched the bird for a little while. The rest of the group were on their way, but suddenly, the bird flew from it's seed head and disappeared! A search of the next pond along revealed nothing. After an anxious 20 minutes or so, it thankfully reappeared on it's favoured pool. A fantastic bird!
As you can see, the light was absolutely appalling! If you're as childish as me, you'll enjoy the ending!
Also in the area was a Kingfisher, as well as all the common wildfowl.
I anticipate that I will be doing very little Portland birding till the new year, not only due to the C word, but also cause my new mobility really encourages me to get out a bit further afield. Maybe the Forest of Dean? We'll see.