The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Spoon-fed Birding

Not as many days spent in the field as I'd like, down to working in Bridport, but the ones that I've managed have been enjoyable.


After yesterdays glut of seabird passage, I thought it might be worth a quick look out to sea from Chesil Beach in a south-westerly.  Although a single distant Pomarine Skua was seen, nothing else was moving.  

Later, I was relaxing in my room, when I happen to glance out the window and see a menacing shape bombing along overhead, a Great Skua!  The flat list is coming along nicely, with the likes of Redstart and Black-tailed Godwit also on it.


I had a quick look round first thing, and I was delighted to see my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year at The Hump.  I later set up to count the hirundine passage.

The movement wasn't quite as heavy as I was hoping, so I quickly gave up.  Nonetheless, I did finally see a Hobby, as one flew north along the cliffs, virtually sideways as the strong westerly blew in.


I only had a small window of opportunity for birding today, but I used it productively.

I did a short walk around the Windmills and through Suckthumb.  Well, by the Windmill stables I bumped into two Turtle Dove.  As always, a real treat to see, and of course we need to enjoy them as much as we can these days.

I was sitting around in the trees behind the former Weston Craft Centre, when a Cuckoo suddenly started up.  A real surprise as they haven't bred on the island for a long time.

Both patch ticks!


This morning, I led my former local RSPB group round my former patch of Tice's Meadow, Surrey.

There was a strong wind blowing, and that really made things difficult.  In fact, by the time we got to the final path back to the car park, the highlights had been a very brief Hobby, and a few common waders.

But on the walk back, we heard the now resident Nightingale, or be it distantly, after dipping it earlier.  A Lime Hawk-moth was a good find.

 And, most astonishingly of all, we had a Spoonbill fly over our heads!  A Surrey mega, and only the second Tice's record.  It was later seen at Fleet Pond, Hants.


I started the day with the usual search of the land.  Spotted Flycatcher had dropped in numbers, and they were found all over the place, including flying around high up, some heading straight north.  Another Turtle Dove was about, this time looking a bit exhausted, sitting in a bush in Suckthumb Quarry.  Also there, I appreciated these Glaucous Sedge in flower.

I next visited Ferrybridge, but there was not a great deal there, bar a Whimbrel, and several grounded Barrel Jellyfish, looking like something from another planet!

The Thrift was now putting on a great show.

A quick look out to sea, and two summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver flew past, part of the decent passage past the Bill no doubt.

Finally, I had a very uneventful look at Verne Common, but this Garden Tiger caterpillar was cool, and is likely to be the first of many.


A good spread of migrants again through the centre of the island, despite the late date.  My usual circuit produced plenty of stuff, including a late Redstart, and a fantastic male Pied Flycatcher, only my second of the year.  Amazingly, it thought this tiny Sycamore was a good place to set up territory and sing.

Later, I set up at the West Cliffs to count the hirundine passage.  I finished the hour on a amazing 777 Swallow and 148 House Martin.  But, the passage in the 20 minutes before I started counting was much stronger than in the last 20 minutes of my actual hour, when it really started to tail off.  Therefore, at it's peak, I reckon Swallow were touching 1000 an hour!  Incredible!  You'd have thought all Swallow territories in the UK would be occupied by now!  Maybe these birds are heading for The Faroes/Scandanavia?


Iv'e just had a quick walk round, and seen just small numbers of expected fare.  But, right at the end, a Reed Warbler was singing at Barleycrates.  Believe it or not, my first on the island this year!  I was starting to think I was going to have to wait till autumn!

Plenty of Wall butterflies now on the wing in beautiful sunshine.

As are plenty of micro-moths.  Both Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella and Esperia sulpurella, like this one, are numerous at the moment.

I also found this disguarded chrysalis, but I have absolutely no idea what emerged from it!

I'm about to head off back to Surrey, from which I will leave for France on Saturday for a week of solid birding in the Alps and the Camargue.  Can't wait!

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