The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Nices at Tice's but Morsels in Dorset

A week of steady rather than spectacular birding, but Tice's Meadow was the highlight for me!

I returned to Surrey on the 6th in order to lead a walk at Tice's the next day.

I made a quick evening visit in order to do a recee, plus twitch a load of site ticks!  These being 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Ruff, and 5 Garganey

All these were found, as well as a Wood Sandpiper, though the Garganey were a struggle. I concentrated on looking for them right at the back, skulking among the vegetation, till I noticed they were out on the open water, right by the mound!

The next morning before the walk, I decided to rush over to Leith Hill to join the guys doing vismig counts from the top of the tower, the highest point in Surrey.

What a spot this was, even in poor visibility.

The place has great potential, though we struggled a bit on this occasion with fog.  We did manage to see a number of migrating species such as Tree Pipit, hirundines, Grey Wagtail, and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  The highlight was a Hobby first thing, probably not on the move.

I got back in plenty of time for the walk.  We had already bumped into a Spotted Flycatcher and a Firecrest (both site ticks for me, and the latter a site 1st), by the time our 20-odd group got to the mound.  All the goodies from the previous days were still present, though in lower numbers.  The walk was enjoyed by all!

Back on Portland on the 8th, and I was luckily able to see the Wryneck that had appeared on my patch the previous day, at Barleycrates Lane.  A showy bird!

The only sightings of any note elsewhere mid-island were 3 Sedge Warbler, a Whinchat, and a Lesser Whitethroat.
The next day, it was a Falcon-fest on the West Cliffs, as whilst watching a perched Kestrel, I heard a Peregrine calling behind me, only to see a Merlin zoom over the cliffs and towards Reap Lane.  A Firecrest behind the hump was also notable. A very late-autumn feel to the birds!
On the 11th, I managed to see the Wryneck once again, find the Little Stint at Ferrybridge, and glimpse the Marsh Harrier go over Blacknor shortly after it had been over the Bill.  Not at all bad, though it's still frustrating me that I can't seem to find anything remotely rare, whilst all sorts get seen at the Bill.
I've been put in charge of a moth trap for one week only, and this has yielded a few decent things so far.
Such as the Delicate,

a rare-for-Portland Plutella porectella,

and a new micro for me, Dichrorampha acuminatana.

Yesterday, on the bird front I was entertained only by a Kestrel attempting to catch the seedheads of Pampas-grass.  I can only assume it was a young bird mistaking them for fluffy mammals! 
 A lot of Speckled Wood about at the moment, though one less...
A Grasshopper Warbler at Suckthumb Quarry, yet another Marsh Harrier, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Tescos(!) - a Portland tick, were the only birds of any note this morning.
Will these continued easterlies finally produce for me?  I'm not optimistic.  I won't give up though.

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