The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Honey, I Shrunk the Mediocrity

Things are looking up!

On my usual rounds on the 14th, the highlights were another Marsh Harrier, this time heading high over The Hump towards the Bill, and a Grasshopper Warbler flushed from behind the former Weston Craft Centre.

There are a number of butterflies still on the wing, including Small Copper.

The next day I found what has to be an extreme Portland rarity, in the form of Marsh Cudweed, which normally grows in dried up ponds/puddles on acid soils.

Its position in a garden is a tad suspicious though, but I feel its not been planted, though instead may have arrived as seed in fertiliser/peat.

 Later that day at around half 10, I was searching the long grass at the edge of the football field down Watery Lane when I suddenly heard the Gulls over Weston going a bit mad.  I looked over to find them all flying in the same direction, and from that direction I got the sight of a large bird of prey flying straight at me, with a pale head and dark eye-mask. A HONEY BUZZARD!  It came closer, and closer, and I was able to snatch these shots as it passed (into the sun, sadly).

I had often wondered in the past whether I'd have trouble picking out Honeys in the spur of the moment, as I'd only ever seen them before on territory, when I was expecting to see them.  I needn't have worried, as the birds jizz was distinctive, though the fact that it was a strikingly pale individual did help a lot!

It flew round a bit before heading back north, and was last seen circling in the distance above the north of the island. 

I have a suspicion it came in-off the sea at Blacknor.  The rough route it took (green star, my location):

And a (fanciful!) facsimile of how it looked:

Sorry, you may have guessed I'm a tad obsessed with HBs!

A tidy 6-pointer in the Patch competition!

The only highlight on the 16th was my 5th juvenile Marsh Harrier on the island this year, as a bird sailed over my head at Reap Lane. I wonder how many individuals are involved in these sightings?  I suspect not many.

Yesterday, a visit to Ferrybridge yielded now 3 Little Stint, as well as a tidy Yellow-legged Gull.

Also, there was a very impressive passage of hirundines occurring, with a very fraught half-hour sample count yielding 1,413 through!  I was only watching the sheltered side of the centre too, so I no doubt missed a load as well!
I then spent an hour or so searching for the Tawny Pipit at the Bill, but to no avail sadly.

Later, whilst working, I found a long-dead Grasshopper Warbler at the side of a road in Castletown, I suspect a victim of window-strike. Yes, I did make sure it was a Common Gropper!

The moth trap that I'm tending at the moment has been pretty quiet for highlights in recent days, though this morning produced a few snippets of quality.

Namely, the migrant European Corn-borer...

...the scarce pyralid, Mecyna asinalis (keen followers of the blog may have remembered I drew attention to the larval damage on Wild Madder a few posts ago).

...and, best of all, a rather sorry-looking Red Underwing.

Later on in the day, I took Amy Robjohns ( ), who'd been staying at the Obs, round some of the local sites. 

Ferrybridge yielded the hoped for Little Stint, with all 3 showing together.  There were also 2 Knot and a female Teal, the latter only the second I'd ever seen there, and first one on the deck!

Next, we popped into Lodmoor, where the pair of Spoonbill stole the show.  Look how close they were to the path!

They were two juvenile birds, which have been there for a while now.

The other highlights here were two Marsh Harrier, and yet another Little Stint.

A look at Radipole produced little.

Well, things have certainly perked up, but are things about to go mad, if those birds currently on the east coast are to filter down here?  Only time will tell.

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