The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Simply Sabine's


The day after the 'storm' certainly had stirred things up a bit, but not produced the wreck of seabirds that had been expected.

Straight after work, I headed for Chesil Cove first, as a Grey Phalarope had been seen there.  No sign of that, though I did manage to see the long-staying very late Arctic Tern struggling in the surf.  I later learnt of the fact that a Surf Scoter had evidently been present at the same time, which didn't help my mood.

I then had the option of trying Portland Harbour for one or two goodies, or instead try the Bill towards dusk.  I went for the latter.  The wind was certainly making it's presence felt.

After a hour of careful scanning, I eventually got onto the target, a single distant Storm-petrel.  The flight action was rather different to the Leach's I had seen the day before.  Virtually a lifer, after the awful views I got of the bird at Spurn.
A Great Skua and a Red-throated Diver also passed by. 
First thing, I took a look at Chesil Cove, then Portland Harbour to check for storm-driven waifs.  Only the Red-necked Grebe found the previous day was seen of any interest, but there's no doubt its a good bird.  Shame about the shots!

After I'd finished work at Bridport, I heard of a definite young Lesser Kestrel that had been seen down the coast near Torquay.  Details were a little sketchy, but decided to give it a stab, as it didn't appear to be a long drive.
The area around Hope's Nose just south of Torquay is certainly a beautiful area, especially in the sun.  A view of Thatcher's Rock.

And Hope's Nose itself viewed form Thatcher's View.

Anyway, there was no sign of the bird, just a young Common Kestrel showing nicely in the sun, on which we were able to see it's black claws.  Reports I got from the few birders on-site suggested a string of possible/probable sightings of the bird in this area, since the last definite sighting at 11:30.  Who knows how many of these were mis-IDs.
The journey home was less than smooth, first getting lost in Torquay, passing the Gleneagles Hotel (apparently the inspiration for 'Fawlty Towers') at least 4 times!  Then, a very early rush hour in Torquay itself, an accident near Honiton, and finally, even a never-ending herd of cows crossing the road delayed me! 
It was a nice area to be, but I won't be going that distance in my rickety old van on such flimsy news again!
Subsequent days:
Birding in the last few days have merely consisted of fairly uneventful searches of Ferrybridge and Portland Harbour before work.  Nothing more dynamic seen than 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Red-breasted Merganser, Guillemot, Razorbill, Sanderling, and Bar-tailed Godwit.  I also had trouble locating the site where a Sabine's Gull had been showing near Burton Bradstock. 
Yesterday the wind increased to speeds very close to those of the 'storm' earlier in the week, and today was still rather blowy.  This morning, I decided on a nice long walk taking in various North Portland sites. 
Blacknor still had it's resident 1st-winter male Black Redstart, which was having a really tough time in the conditions, often sheltering under cars.  I settled down in Chesil Cove for a seawatch, but it produced predictably little.  Just a Stonechat amongst the beach huts. 
I walked back up then along the main roads to Grove.  On the playing field there was a single Fieldfare feeding on worms.  A bit early for that I thought.  Maybe the wind has blown all the berries away!
Broadcroft Quarry held various skulking Pipits, which all appeared to be Meadow, and the Sycamores at Wakeham held a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff, but little else.  Finally, I took in Windmills and Watery Lane, where a Grey Wagtail was feeding on a manure pile.
After lunch, I learnt that a Sabine's Gull was back in Chesil Cove.  No doubt decided to show itself after I left earlier!  Luckily however, I did finally manage to catch up with this species after a series of dips this autumn.  On arrival at the Cove, it was flying south, and ended up settled in Hallelujah Bay.  It was great looking down on it from the cliffs in perfect lighting.
As far as I can see, this winter will be a matter of checking the Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour area for the best birds.  Lucky then, that I'm working at Bridport all the way till Christmas (although the lengthening nights will curtail any birding fairly soon)!

1 comment:

  1. Well done Sean on seeing the Sabine's. Fabulous gull