The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Foote's Portland Bird Tours ltd

On the 28th, I went off for Tice's Meadow biannual 24 hour birding event. 

But, that didn't stop me getting a patch tick on Portland, as whilst working near Portland Castle in the morning, a Great Spotted Woodpecker called from there.

Once at Tice's the birds were no-where near as good as previous weeks, with only 1 Ruff of the more unusual waders left.  The atmospherics were pretty spectacular.

Plus, the other wildlife was full of highlights. Several Wasp Spider, including my first egg-cases...

...a family of very confiding Roe Deer, and the very rare introduced parasitic plant, Yellow Dodder, starred.

We also ran a couple of moth traps overnight, with the highlights being lots of Black Rustic, singles of Bulrush and Large Wainscot, plus a lifer of Deep-brown Dart (here with a Black Rustic).

On the way back, I helped lead my former local RSPB group from Surrey round Stanpit Marsh, seeing little in the way of highlights.  This was the first of a 4 day holiday for the group, staying on Portland.  It was up to me to take them about the island.

Their first full day on the 29th was spent around the Bill, with the afternoon around the mid-island triangle, finishing at Portland Castle.  A pair of Little Owl at the Obs quarry performed for us, as did a Hobby on the West Cliffs.  Otherwise it was just usual stuff.  Some guys from the rear of the group reported seeing a Jay to me later.  That would have been a patch tick!

At the Castle, the Black Guillemot was initially present, but then flew off before the guys got on it!

 A Gull caused me confusion, as it appeared to be a perfectly good Yellow-legged Gull, being the same size as the nearby Herring.  I did have some doubts, and it was finally decided that it was a small Great Black-backed Gull.  The short wings, lack of mantle moult, and barred greater coverts being the key points.  You live and learn.  Thanks to Brett Spencer and Luke Phillips for the assistance.

An evening walk took in the Grove Hooded Crow.

The next day was spent at the Weymouth RSPB reserves, with Lodmoor producing Marsh Harrier and a mobile Little Stint, and Radipole giving us good views of Bearded Tit, along with Green Sandpipers...

...and who could forget the disgraced Hooded Merganser!

The final day took in the Black Guillemot, which showed well this time, plus a longer walk round the Bill.  Late Yellow Wagtail and Whinchat were found, as was the supposed Siberian Lesser Whitethroat in the Obs Quarry.

Earlier in the morning, I had re-found the Yellow-browed Warbler at the Avalanche Road Hump, and in the afternoon I took a small group there to try and see it.  We heard it call, and saw it for a split second!

I think the group largely enjoyed their trip, even though finding birds was really hard work!  The weather was really kind, and they saw 102 species in 4 days.

This morning on my usual rounds, I saw the patch tick of two over-flying Reed Bunting, and there were also at least 10 Rook through.

The mothing on the island has been pretty good recently, with a few migrants, lifers, and rarities.

The pretty Tebenna micalis of the former...

...Rhomboid Tortrix of the middle...

...and, best of all, a worn Golden Twin-spot of the latter.  About the 130th record for the UK.

This morning I got this troublesome Chestnut.  Initially thought to be a Flounced, but it is probably a strange Beaded Chestnut.

I'm off to start my journey to Fair Isle tomorrow!  Hopefully Spurn will be the location for my half-way stop, and perhaps a rare Shrike if I'm lucky.

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