Monday 5 May 2014

Wood and spoons

The lure of Portland proved too strong again this afternoon. A family outing to the Bill, via a Black-winged Stilt at Lodmoor, started disappointingly when it seemed we might have left it too late to catch up with the earlier passage of Pomarine Skua. A small crowd of seawatchers at the Bill dispersed as news filtered through that a flock of 21 Poms which had been on the sea, and which they were hoping would make their way past us, had flown high and probably over the island.

Wood Warbler, Portland Castle
The Wood Warbler's white underside glowed against the dark backdrop of a dense conifer
The grounds of Portland Castle have proven to be an excellent migrant trap
A burst of song from the Wood Warbler
After a pleasant hour during which I found a Puffin and James Lowther picked up a Black Tern, the only other remaining birder's phone rang with a tip off from Chesil Cove that another Pom was on its way towards us. Armed and ready, it duly appeared soon after at the back of a flock of Manx Shearwater, and gave probably the closest fly-past I have enjoyed of this species.
Pomarine Skua with distinctive spoon-shaped tail feathers
Small flocks of Manx Shearwater headed east past the Bill
A single flock of Common Scoter also buzzed past
There was just time to twitch a singing Wood Warbler at Portland Castle on the way back. Elusive it first, a few pius and shimmering trills eventually gave it away and, despite kids (not mine) running and shouting under its favoured trees, it performed well for the camera in difficult light conditions. We have an English Heritage family membership card which I have been lobbying Claire to ditch in the interests of our finances, but I was glad of it this afternoon as it gave me access to the inner sanctum of the castle grounds where the Warbler showed best.
Kittiwake, Portland Bill
A very distant Puffin at Portland Bill

And an equally distant Black-winged Stilt at Lodmoor


  1. Love the first Wood Warbler shot. Love, love, love. Absolutely cracking that. Glad you got a Pom, I wasn't so lucky.

    1. Cheers Brett, I liked that one too - worth the neck-ache.