Wednesday 25 May 2011

Can't beat the reeling...

The Savi's Warbler at Lodmoor showed distantly on my first visit but news that it was singing from more visible spots encouraged me to return to Weymouth before work this morning. The bird reeled almost constantly between 0730 and 0815, dropping down occasionally. The opening stanza of song - compared to a stuttering motorbike - could be heard clearly. Forced to digiscope, so not great pictures, but my first of this species at least. Bearded Tit and Cetti's Warbler were also very vocal, though less visible.

Monday 23 May 2011

Elsewhere on Brownsea

Walking around the rest of the Dorset Wildlife Trust on Brownsea today, there was plenty of evidence of breeding activity. Canada Geese had goslings on the lawn by the church, and a brood of juvenile Long-tailed Tit (top picture) were causing a commotion near the villa. This male Reed Bunting posed briefly in front of the reedbed hide. Although conditions were slightly blustery, surprisingly few birders, or visitors of any kind, were on the island today for the time of year.

Photographing Terns

Visiting photographers to Brownsea have apparently been complaining about the chicken wire erected around one of the tern islands to protect nesting birds from trampling deer and predators. An absurd complaint, particularly as if not protected, there won't be many birds to photograph. My pictures may not be the best, but they hopefully show that there are still plenty of photographic opportunities to be had. The netting seemed to be doing its job as well, as most of the 108 Sandwich Terns counted were on the island surrounded by it. Hatching of the eggs was apparently imminent but I was unable to see any chicks today.

Brownsea lagoon

A brief Roseate Tern was the highlight of a trip to Brownsea (three more were present the following day). I also counted 108 Sandwich and 122 Common Tern though the number of breeding birds surely exceeds this. A single Med Gull (pictured) was an unwelcome visitor to the tern islands. Waders were represented by a summer plumaged Grey Plover, a flock of 20 Dunlin and a single Knot. The Dunlin gave a fly past (lower picture) but despite coming close to the hides were too nervous to settle - unfortunate as most were in summer plumage.

LRP at Longham

An early visit to Longham Lakes was rewarded with a Little Ringed Plover (pictured), plus singing Cuckoo, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge, Reed and Garden Warblers. Clouds of Swift were swarming over the eastern lake - my count of 200 birds was almost certainly an under-estimate.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Moth breakfast

A team-away day provided the opportunity to use the skills of County Ecologist and moth expert Phil Sterling to bring the joy of moths to an unsuspecting group of colleagues. Phil was dispatched to Monkton Wyld last night to set up the moth trap, an effort which was this morning rewarded by three Poplar Hawkmoth, two Buff Tip, a Beautiful Golden Y, Pale Tussock, White Ermine, Buff Ermine and many other commoner species. The Poplar Hawk (top), Buff Tip (middle) and Beautiful Golden Y (bottom) are pictured here. Some amazing creatures, enjoyed by all.

Monday 9 May 2011

Swift half...

...would be a good way to describe most of the results of my attempts to photograph these birds at Radipole Lake, fiendishly fast fliers that they are. A 1st summer Night Heron was lurking somewhere on the reserve. But as I was already stretching the credibility of my claim to be 'just nipping to the dump', I was unable to find it in a brief search. Being Radipole, an exotic wildfowl is the least one expects, this Bar-headed Goose replacing the usual Hooded Merganser.

Dubious detours III

Another early morning trip to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in preparation for moving house produced what little excuse I needed for the week's most outrageous 'birder's detour' yet: one bit of Poole to another bit of Poole via Portland Bill. Well, the seawatching has been excellent (see post for Friday 6 May) and a Bee-eater and Red-backed Shrike had been seen at the Bill the previous day. I didn't see either, but a 2 hour seawatch produced another Pom Skua, Bonxie and Puffin as well as more usual fayre. Unlike Friday's bird, the Pom was close enough for a record shot in excellent light. Check out those spoons!

Saturday 7 May 2011

Seawatching at the Bill

Continuing a week of dubious detours (see post for 2nd May), I nipped into Portland Bill early this morning en route to a meeting in Bridport. Pomarine Skua was high on the target list, but after 90 minutes there had just been a Great Northern Diver and several Common Scoter worthy of note. My deadline for leaving was fast approaching, but in the last half-hour things started to pick up: 2 Arctic Skuas (one pale, one dark), a Roseate Tern, a Manx Shearwater - and, finally, a pale phase adult Pom Skua, complete with 'spoons'. A welcome Dorset tick. Despite good telescope views it was too far out to photograph but the pale phase Arctic pictured here was much closer.

Friday 6 May 2011

The Partridge Family

Grey Partridge can be a surprisingly difficult bird to see in large parts of Dorset, but my meeting venue this morning of the 'Cranborne Shoot Bothy' sounded like a safe bet. I kept the camera in the passenger seat just in case, and sure enough, a half-a-mile or so after leaving the meeting at the Bothy this pair were sitting at the field's edge. Red-legged Partridge were also seen but not as well on this occasion.

Thursday 5 May 2011

More Corn Buntings

A couple more shots of Corn Bunting from recent trips to Maiden Castle:

Tuesday 3 May 2011

On Hengistbury Head

Small flocks of Little Tern (right) passing east were the highlight of an early morning trip to Hengistbury Head this morning. It's virtually en route (or so I told my wife) from home in Poole to the Household Waste Recycling Centre, of which I am currently a regular user on account of a forthcoming house move. Whimbrel (right) also flew past, and there were a few on the deck at Stanpit including this one pictured. Plenty of Sand Martin were at the colony on the Head, and 3 Brent Geese heading east were also of interest.

Monday 2 May 2011

Maiden Castle

A family walk around the impressive perimeter of Maiden Castle produced 6 singing Corn Bunting - the one pictured here was on the car park fence. Early Purple Orchid, Small Heath (pictured) and Common Blue butterfly were also seen.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Over Longham Lakes

Popped into Longham Lakes on the way home from this morning's Oriental Turtle Dove twitch, hoping to catch up with Little Ringed Plover - no luck on that score, but a pair of Hobby, a 1st summer Little Gull and a flock of House Martin gathering mud from the lake shore still made for a very worthwhile visit. Every scrap of reedbed around the edge of the lakes seemed to host a singing Reed Warbler.