The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Monday, 27 January 2014

Larus Hyperboring!

A few days to catch up on, and there were one or two highlights, but otherwise things a rather samey at the moment!


I took a little look from the top of Chesil Beach after work, in the hope of passing birds on the sea.  I didn't see any of those, though I did manage to find my THIRD Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus, if you were wondering about the post title!) this year.  Don't get me wrong, they are great birds.  But it would be nice if I was capable of finding scarce birds that aren't Black Guillemots and Glaucous Gulls!

I got a glimpse of a white-winged Gull with its wings up on the sea by a fishing boat, and thought, 'that looked a little big for a Med!'.  It was indeed an adult Glaucous Gull, though it was no doubt the West Bexington bird, and also the one that was seen at Ferrybridge before Christmas.

Nothing else of particular note that day, though I managed to get some okay shots of the Portland Castle Black Guillemot.  One of these days it will be close in!

A bit of a lucky shot as it dived!

On the way home, I had a quick stroll down Watery Lane, seeing nothing of interest species-wise. 
Though I did witness some odd Crow behaviour.  A group of Carrion Crow were making quite a racket, and as I watched, more and more individuals flew in from all directions.  No sign of any predators, and it was too early for a roost (2.5 hours before sunset).  A few of the local Gulls began to join in with the raucous scrum too.  Never seen such a tight nit group of Carrion Crows before (Rook, Jackdaw, and Magpie yes, but not Carrion Crows).  Most odd!


The first of three days off today, that I was determined to make the most of.

A look at Portland Castle first produced the best views yet of the Black Guillemot, which seemed to be closely investigating the rock breakwater there.  It even poked away at the seaweed at the base.  It really looked as though it was about to climb up onto it too, but didn't sadly.  Also a Black-throated and Great Northern Diver there.

I next took a look in Chesil Cove, and was rewarded with a passing Long-tailed Duck, which kept landing on the sea with a belly-flop, as it went further and further out.  90% sure of the ID.

I had a poke around the bushes, and found the wing of a Kittiwake.  Possibly a storm victim that had been picked up by a Fox.

Here, I was treated to a marvellous Peregrine display, as the local pair repeatedly attempted to chase away an intruding female.  At one point, the male chased her at full pelt right past my ear, from behind me!  Didn't half make me jump!
Come the afternoon, the wind was calm, and the sun was out.  That meant a look at Ferrybridge and Portland Harbour.  The former had more Dunlin and Ringed Plover than recently, but still little else.
The latter though, from Weymouth Watersports, was as busy as I've seen it, with the conditions allowing me to count everything pretty well.  Final totals were 4 Red-necked Grebe (in two distinct pairs), 19 Black-necked Grebe, a couple of Slavonian Grebe, 2 more Great Northern Diver, and at least 3 more Black-throated Diver, one of which flew in.  Awesome!
Things were starting to get a little samey at this point, with another day gone, and nothing new for the year.  Still, it was an enjoyable ramble up island, starting at Chesil Cove.
Best, was two close-in Slavonian Grebe, salvaging what was otherwise a rather tedious couple of hours.
I next decided to head home via Portland Castle, but there was nothing of note.  On the way back up the Merchant's Incline, I noticed that the first proper signs of spring were arriving.  Hawthorn leaves in bud...
...and, better still, Blackthorn blossom out!
As I ascended, I suddenly heard a call coming from the trees behind the abandoned flats.  I was pretty sure it was a Siberian Chiffchaff.  Basically a single note call, reminiscent of Chiffchaff, but more like a Bullfinch.  I found a gap in the fence, and checked it out.  As I arrived, a few birds (mostly Tits) flew across into an area with no access.  There was no further sign of any birds in the original trees.
I went round to the corner of Verne Common, but found nothing in that area either.  Plenty of places for a bird like that to be hiding around there.  I may try again sometime.
The one that got away!
The only sightings remotely of note during my little after-work dash round the best sites were a Sandwich Tern back at Portland Castle, and a pair of Kingfisher chasing each other around there.
With the stormy conditions, Chesil Cove was really the only option this afternoon.  I was delighted to get my first patch tick for over a week, as at least 3 Little Gull passed by.  I searched through the good number of other Gulls feeding in the surf finding nothing, though I apparently missed an Iceland Gull! Bugger!
More shots of the 'Portland-weather'!

I look forward to the apparent icy conditions coming.  That should produce plenty of new stuff with any luck!

1 comment:

  1. I know nothing of birds but came to visit because you are a Portland blogger. However - the picture of the crows in the tree is delightful even for an ignoramus like me.