The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Deja Hoopoe

After the success of the previous week, things continued in a similar vein, very much against expectations.

'My' Hoopoe was re-found by myself a few days after my initial discovery. I flushed it from the path at the back of the big horse-field along Weston Street (and I've since seen it again, at Avalanche Road).  Unlike my first encounter, the bird actually hung around long enough for others to connect.

Whilst I watched it, the most extraordinary moment was when it appeared flying around in the air, crest erect, being pursued by a Sparrowhawk!  They circled around each other a few times, before the Hoopoe saw its opportunity and escaped.  This was the most notable of a string of spectacular bird of prey hunting episodes I witnessed over a few days that also included a Peregrine plunging through, and scattering, a flock of Redwing, a Sparrowhawk carrying a Blue Tit, and a pair of Peregrine stooping in perfect harmony on a Feral Pigeon.  I love raptors!

Birds of interest in Portland Harbour have included a male Eider, a 1st-winter Velvet Scoter today (I was disappointed to see its white wing-panels, bearing in mind there has been a Surf Scoter nearby!), a number of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe, as well as the usual Black Guillemot.  This is the first time I've seen it out the water.

Also, on one day there was a nice flock of 5 Shelduck hanging around, later joined by two others.  Unusual in the Harbour.

A few other notable birds found mid-island during the period included a Golden Plover over Watery Lane, 6 Lapwing over Barleycrates Lane on two days, and a Mistle Trush at Weston Street whilst looking for the Hoopoe - a Portland tick!  Also Black Redstart continue to be a daily occurrence.

On the 19th, I was having a casual look at Blacknor, when I heard a familiar 'tack' call coming from near some Brambles. 'Not a Dusky surely. Mmm, could've been a Stonechat' I thought. Sure enough, there was a female Stonechat on the fence, so I about turned and started to move off.  Then, I suddenly heard the bird again, and flushed a Dusky Warbler from some Brambles!  It flew off, and sat on the side of a bush for me to see (in similar circumstances to my first find!).  My second in exactly a week!  It's nice to get some luck, but I can't help wishing I could find something different!

Gulls are building up on the flooded and stubble fields of Barleycrates lane currently.  Among them have been this 2nd-winter Lesser Black-backed Gull...

 ...and this American Herring Gull-like Herring Gull with its streaky head and chest and tertial marking.

On a day in which I narrowly dipped Barnacle Goose and Snow Bunting, I was compensated reasonably well when this ringtail Harrier flew over Blacknor, a presumed Hen Harrier.

 A big advantage of the coming of winter, are the spectacular sunrises.

Hoping to get on-patch for the Cameron Bespolka memorial bird-race at the weekend, and possibly also for a rare off-patch excursion.

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