The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Friday, 10 January 2014

Merg in Turn


In my usual 2 hour window after work, I checked out Ferrybridge, Portland Castle, and The Bill, as per my developing routine.

Little of note till I got to the Castle.  From here I finally got the female Eider onto the patch and year lists, though it spent it's entire time dozing by the breakwater.

A sudden glimpse of a bird disappearing round the corner towards The Aqua hotel had me puzzled.  It looked all the world like a Kingfisher, though I failed to see the usual 'flash of blue' from the bird.  Just a Starling?

I whizzed round the corner, and as I got to the water's edge, I flushed a Kingfisher from the rocky wall!  A Portland tick.

Otherwise, the usual stuff in the area including Great Northern and Black-throated Divers.

Once at the Bill, I moved over towards the Obs Quarry to see if the usual Little Owl was enjoying the brief sunshine, and it was!  That was the only highlight, as the sea was dead as the sun began to set.


The wind has finally died down!

Ferrybridge was again rather quiet today, but I was happy to finally get Rook and Curlew on the Patch list, though I had to get the latter by scoping halfway down the Fleet!

The sun was shining, and that made watching from Hamm Beach rather an attractive proposition, especially as water sport activity was fairly low.  It seems that this little corner of the harbour is excellent for Grebes and Divers etc, when they're not disturbed that is.  Today, there were 3 Great Northern Diver very close in, including one literally just off the rocks!  They were too close for me to phonescope!

Moving round to Portland Castle, I found a photographers dream, with the sun shining on the birds, which were mostly close-in.  With nothing particularly notable in view, I just relaxed and enjoyed the commoner birds.

Even with the conditions, my photography set-up still struggled with some of the distances, and I managed my best photo of the Black Guillemot yet(!).

Closer in (though still not close enough for my phone camera) was a Guillemot.
The female Eider was still present, though as yesterday, it was sleeping!


But, the star of the show were the Red-breasted Merganser, which were displaying, and calling.  Not something you hear everyday.  There were two particularly boisterous males displaying to a female...


...but the female was having none of it!

I finished the day with a rather uneventful stroll round Verne Common, producing only the patch tick of Bullfinch.


 I had the day off, so immediately headed out for a circuit round the Barleycrates, Reap, and Suckthumb area, in very mild and pleasant conditions.

The first sign of spring on Portland, is the Alexanders sprouting, and here's some in Barleycrates Lane.

The first bit of the walk had produced just the patch ticks of Collared Dove and Stock Dove, till I got to Reap Lane.

I was delighted to find a pair of Stonechat here, as they'd been hard to find during the strong winds.  But, better still, a Black Redstart was apparently associating with them.  I made yet another attempt to photograph one, but I was hampered by a pair of overly-friendly Horses, one of which had a nibble of my binocular case (oooer)!

So, I had to make do with a video grab.

The bird was, as usual, being chased by the local Robin.
On the way back home, I witnessed a pair of Peregrine co-operatively hunting a Feral Pigeon.  Something I have seen once before, but it was no less exciting for that.  I failed to see the outcome on this occasion.
Onwards to Ferrybridge, where things were again quiet on the mudflats.  But, scoping further down the Fleet, I managed to see a pair of Shelduck, and two male Goldeneye.  Both uncommon closer to the island, and both valuable patch ticks.
A look from Hamm Beach produced the usual stuff, including a distant group of 3 Black-throated Diver, and a Grey Heron in flight. 
Also this rather large family group of Brent Goose with 6 youngsters!
Portland Castle was quieter than in recent days, but I again attempted some photography.
This Shag was very helpful.
Which cannot be said for a fourth Black-throated Diver!
After a great deal of thought, I have decided to change my Patch boundaries for the Patchwork Challenge.  The shape that I posted before was just too unconventional.  My patch now no longer includes The Bill.  I'll do a blog post on it shortly.
Under these new boundaries, I'm up to 77 species for the patch.


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