The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Quite Franklin's, a Disappointment

Almost 2 weeks since I last posted, and a few things to catch up on.
I was able to see the Pallas's Warbler on a rare visit to the Obs on the 30th Oct, only for it to relocate to Avalanche Rd on my patch.  A big bonus to see it there on the 2nd Nov.
Also here, was a nice showing of Shaggy Inkcap.

Around the turn of the month it was incredibly warm, and that meant a number of butterflies still on the wing, including Red Admiral...

...and Clouded Yellow, including this of the pale form 'helice' - a first for me.

Tilleycombe was visited a few times recently, and produced a few nice things, with a good number of warblers present.  I feel it always looks like a promising spot.

Although I had an interesting-looking Chiffchaff here earlier, I had a much better candidate for Siberian Chiffchaff at Portland Castle recently. Visually, it looked spot-on, though I failed to hear it.

Also here on the 6th, I spent a bit of time with several Black Redstart, including this young male.

Also at this site, I had a frustrating moment spotting a raptor over Portland Harbour on one morning, but I only had my bins with me so couldn't get any more on it.  My gut feeling was a ringtail Hen Harrier though.

To continue the theme of 'ones that got away', I had a Pipit fly over at Barleycrates Lane on the 5th which called like a Tree Pipit.  But on this date, a tripit would be exceptional indeed.  It didn't sound quite right either, with a slight metallic quality to it - a pretty good description of the call of Olive-backed Pipit.  A search around nearby sites produced nothing.  Frustrating!

Later on in the day, it seems the gods were keen to rub it in...

No doubt the highlight of this period came on the 2nd, with a twitch to Blashford Lakes.  The hoped-for lifer of a Franklin's Gull did show eventually, but not till it was almost totally dark!  Some in the hide failed to locate it, so I was lucky to see it at all!

The main disappointment that I refer to in the blog title was that of seawatching.  At least 3 days of decent to strong south-westerlies in early-November should produce most, if not all, of the 'big 4' storm-driven seabirds (Little Auk, Sabine's Gull, Leach's Petrel, and Grey Phalarope) in Chesil Cove.

I spent a great many hours there in total, with 1 Pomarine Skua, 1 Great Skua, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Pintail, 1 Teal, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Black-throated Diver and 8 Little Gull (including one lingering inshore) to show for it.

This is despite 3 of the big 4 occurring at nearby sites.  Last year I saw two of them (Sabs and Leach's) without trying that hard, so to get none this year would be frustrating to say the least, particularly as two have occurred this year, but I missed them (Leach's and Grey Phal).
Not too late to get at least one of those hopefully!

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