You'd think that drinking fomented apple juice all day and intimidating the locals would be enough to have you barred, but, in this context at least, the adjective applies to the plumage of a rare Warbler and not its bearer being an unwelcome visitor. And far from being unwanted, it has been made very welcome indeed by the offerings of fruit made available by the team at the Portland Bird Observatory, from whose patio I was able to photograph it on Sunday. Whether its long stay has anything to do with it being slightly squiffy, we know not, but I was the latest in a long line of visitors to the Obs who have now enjoyed its showy performances.
|Barred Warbler, Portland Bird Observatory garden
|'Pick Your Own'. Note the pale iris and scaly flanks
The light was tricky but it would be churlish to complain with such a compliant subject, especially as Sunday's weather was distinctly better than forecast. I had planned a twitchy morning chasing minor rarities around Dorset so after success with the Warbler, my next stop was Bowleaze Cove, northeast of Weymouth, just beyond which a Richard's Pipit has been another long stayer. While the Pipit was reported to be flighty, it didn't take long for a small search party of myself, Jol and Joe Mitchell to locate it - first by its distinctive call, then on the deck feeding among a loose flock of Blackbirds in the corner of a field. It did indeed prove quite flighty, commuting between a field full of Shetland Ponies and Llamas (!) and two other empty ones, but we managed a few record shots between us.
|Richard's Pipit, near Osmington - note strong bill and supercilium
|I struggled a bit with grim light and a distant bird - but this Siberian vagrant is apparently enjoying our mild south coast winter
|A front view showing the clean underside with streaking restricted to the upper breast and concentrated into a dark wedge on the throat-side
|Looking large and long-tailed in flight
The weather worsened as I beat my retreat from Cogden, and just as I was approaching Abbotsbury and wondering whether to stick to the coast road or head home via the inland route, the pager alerted me to a Caspian Gull at Radipole Lake in Weymouth. This species is another rare visitor to Dorset, and typically short staying. You usually have to drop lucky and just be driving past when one is found. Fortunately, that's not far off what happened, and I arrived at Radipole within the half-hour. That was the easy bit though: the next challenge was to find it.
|1st winter Caspian Gull, Radipole Lake
|In the car park with Herring Gulls behind and Med and Common Gulls in front - note long, pale pink legs and upright posture
|About to take to the air...
|...and show a saggy belly which is said by some authorities to be a feature of the species
|The distinctive plumage made the Caspian Gull quite easy to pick up in flight
|Mediterranean Gull, Radipole Lake - taken earlier in the day when the light was kinder