The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Quite a bit to catch up on, and I've let the photos build up a bit too much!  Nice to be able to report on some non-bird stuff for a change though. Spring is here!


I was up at the break of dawn, and what a dawn.

The best find from this mornings usual excursions was a 1st-winter Rook near the start of Reap Lane.  Very unusual away from Ferrybridge, this bird with it's developing pale base to the bill, was a surprise sound as it called from a lamppost.  Not a sound I expect here!  It was indeed very vocal, and presumably it was pining after some company.


All the usual stuff, including the two Iceland Gull again in Chesil Cove.  What was more surprising was a pair of Pintail, which passed at middle distance.  A Portland tick!

At Ferrybridge, I made a point of photographing a more expected Rook, as the bird went backwards and forwards cashing pieces of a large chunk of bread.

Whilst on my second look at the Cove, I heard the Gulls getting animated.  Usually it's the Buzzards or Peregrines that set them off.  I looked up towards the Verne to see a large, slow-flapping Accipiter raptor, with flared out undertail coverts.  I rushed to get my camera, but once I'd set up, the bird had vanished!  I'm not going to tick it, but I can't see how it couldn't have been a male Goshawk!

Later, on a break from work, I popped into Ferrybridge.  I was greeted by two flocks of waders (adding up to 17) flying back and forwards over the sea/beach/Fleet.  I only had my bins, so hence I had my second frustrating moment of the day!  They seemed to have a lot of white on them, but clearly weren't Black-tailed Godwit.  So I concluded, probably wrongly, that they were Redshank.  They did seem to appear from the sea first, which is why I thought against one of the Fleet resident species e.g. Bar-tailed Godwit.  It's too early for them to be moving.


My usual looks at Reap/Barleycrates/Suckthumb produced little to shout about, but what a beautiful day!  I looked at the jungle that is Barleycrates Lane from a different perspective!

Whilst here, I took my first proper look at the galls which cover the leaves of the Alexanders.  They are caused by the fungus Puccinia smyrnii.

Back at Chesil Cove, in addition to the usual 1st-winter Iceland Gull, the 2nd-winter Kumlien's Gull appeared from nowhere, before flying away along the beach.  A couple of swipes from the nearby Herring Gull revealed it's dark tail.  I wish it would settle down and give itself up to all!

Also in the Cove, the usual stuff, plus 26 Brent Goose, and a load more which looked like they were coming, before peeling off at the last minute and landing at Ferrybridge!


Chesil Cove first thing had promise, as a south-easterly was blowing.  Sadly, I couldn't take advantage of it as I was working the morning.  I only had time to see another 28 Brent Goose south, although they strongly thought about going 'up and over' the island.

Whilst working, I very fortuitously stumbled on a Bloxworth Snout moth settled by a window.  An increasing scarcity.

After work, I had my usual stroll round the place, and found my first migrant Chiffchaff at Barleycrates Lane, and identified for the first time, Common Whitlow-grass (not a grass at all, but a member of the cress family) along Reap Lane.

After that, I left for Surrey, as I was spending the weekend back at my old haunt. On arrival at my old garden, I was greeted by a singing Blackcap!  My first of the year!


The reason I was back in Surrey, was because I was leading a walk for my old local RSPB group on the South Downs at The Burgh.  Before that though, I just had to pop into the former local patch of Tice's Meadow.  It was the start of another gorgeous day.

The water level there was the highest it has ever been.  The whole place is one big lake!  Little of note on the bird side though, except a long-staying female Shelduck, and my first chicks of the year.

After a great meet-up with my old Tice's pals, it was onto the walk.  It went pretty well in perfect weather.  The site wasn't quite up to it's usual self though, with quite a few hoped-for species missing.  We still saw the likes of Grey Partridge, Raven, Red Kite, and Yellowhammer everywhere though.  Loads o butterflies on the wing including Peacock and Brimstone.


I couldn't resist another quick look at Tice's first thing.  Again, nothing particularly notable for the site, but it was just brilliant seeing the likes of  Shoveler and Bullfinch, species I just don't get to experience anymore being at Portland.

And, although I do see them at Portland, the Common Gull were looking smart.

I then also popped briefly into Frensham Great Pond, for no real purpose.  I miss this place as well!

A Firecrest, and best of all, a singing Woodlark (my favourite songster) were very welcome here.

I made my way home to Portland.

On arrival, I felt I had to have a quick nip around the place, seeing as the Wheatear had finally turned up!  No luck with those sadly, but I did happen to bump into a pair of Peregrine eating a Woodpigeon at Barleycrates Lane.  Plenty of calling and interaction going on, but sadly the female had had her fill, and had left the male to it by the time I got into a position to photograph the action.


A number of birding sessions finally yielded the winter thrushes, as at least 11 Redwing were scattered about the place (2 at Barleycrates, and 9 over Suckthumb), along with an obvious increase in Blackbird and Song Thrush.  2 Fieldfare were also at Suckthumb, as was two Firecrest still, and a Woodcock which I flushed from the side of the raised area.

A brand new fungus discovery was this nice troop of the wonderfully named Egghead Mottlegill, by The Hump.

A quick look at Ferrybridge revealed the Iceland Gull still, seemingly settled on the pools by the car park.  And last, but certainly not least, a stint at Chesil Cove revealed a distant pod of 3-4 Bottle-nosed Dolphin, whose presence was revealed by their attendant Gulls. 

Still no Wheatear for me though!

If you've made it this far, congratulations!

1 comment:

  1. Some great photos, particularly of the peregrine.