Tuesday 31 March 2015

Enough already

OK, last post on this bird, promise. But it was sunny, there wasn't much else going on, and it's such a show off...
The 1st winter Bonaparte's Gull was pattering on the surface like a petrel today...
...as well as dip-feeding like a marsh tern...
...and fly-catching like a Little Gull
Against the reedbeds of Radipole Lake
Almost walking on the water at times
A successful catch
Better light than yesterday but we both had strong winds to contend with
After such a long gap since the last Dorset one, it has certainly provided plenty of opportunities to catch up with it
When I first photographed this bird it spent much time on the water - not today though
A very characterful bird

Bony's back

An afternoon walk around Swineham on Saturday produced not much to write home about, apart from the removal of yet more vegetation which used to be beloved of the local Cetti's Warblers. So, slightly disillusioned with this and the absence of waterbirds, I headed over the border to Blashford Lakes in Hampshire on Sunday morning. A Long-tailed Duck present all week had departed, but a pair of Goosander, a Black-necked Grebe and a small flock of Egyptian Geese kept me interested, and the hides sheltered me from the rain. The weather kept threatening to improve but never quite delivered, so having checked the forecast for Weymouth I headed there in the afternoon for another hour with the returning Bonaparte's Gull, Dorset's first for around three decades. Many photos were taken.
Bonaparte's Gull, Radipole Lake
The Gull's feeding pattern would vary between dip-feeding...
...plucking morsels from the surface of the water...
...like this...
...or flycatching in mid-air...
...like this.
From the smallest gull at Radipole to the largest: Great Black-backed Gull in the car park...
...and the Hooded Merganser. Still there, still untickable.
Egyptian Geese from earlier in the day at Blashford Lakes
Goosander at Blashford was my only photo year-tick of the weekend (#134)
A confiding Little Grebe on Ibsley Water
This Lesser Black-backed Gull at Blashford appears to have been ringed in Guernsey
The Bonaparte's Gull showing its pink legs...
...and the distinctive upperwing pattern.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Bunting hat-trick

After twitching a Bonaparte's Gull before work on Wednesday, I ended the week with another successful local twitch on Friday night at nearby Maiden Castle, a short detour on my way home from work. A Snow Bunting had been present for a couple of days and I soon relocated it on the cycle path and later in the same field where a large flock of Golden Plover spent the winter. As well as the Snow Bunting, by Friday night these had been replaced by a few Wheatears, my first of the year. Singing Corn Buntings completed a nice evening jaunt.
Snow Bunting, Maiden Castle (#129th species photographed in 2015)
A well marked bird
It was finding plenty of seeds to eat in this field
Corn Bunting, Maiden Castle (#130)
Any why should Buntings get all the attention? Here's a Linnet at Maiden Castle...
...a Lark: Skylark, Maiden Castle...
...and finally from Maiden Castle, the first Wheatear of the year (#131)
One more for the finches: Siskin, near Wareham last weekend (#132)
OK, Buntings, have the last word: Yellowhammer, nr Wareham last weekend (#133)

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Waiting for a gull like you...

I spent most of the weekend before last chasing around Chesil Beach trying to get a decent view of a Bonaparte's Gull. I saw it briefly but not getting a photo left me very frustrated. These feelings returned when news of its reappearance at Radipole Lake reached me last night but only after I got home from work and it was too late to head back out for another attempt. It seemed like I was destined not to see this bird up close and I had very low expectations of it being still present this morning. As I was heading to Weymouth to pick up a work colleague en route to a meeting in Exeter, however, I left sufficiently early to have a quick look at Radipole. There were a few gulls loafing in the car park but no Bonaparte's, so I headed to the Buddleia Loop where it was last seen and to my amazement it was still there. I only had 15 minutes to take photos but that was enough to get some decent shots in perfect morning light.


Saturday 14 March 2015


I'm suffering a bit with what I hope is the last cold of the winter, but forced myself out for an hour this morning to Longham Lakes (conveniently en route to the Mother's Day present emporium known as Haskins Garden Centre). It's definitely starting to feel like Spring there with my first Sand Martins of the year and a beautiful pair of breeding plumage Black-necked Grebes on passage. Certainly more spring-like than last weekend, most of which I spent chasing around Chesil Beach after a Bonparte's Gull, a real Dorset rarity. I did manage to catch up with it in Portland Harbour but it flew over Chesil Beach before I could get close enough for a photo - very frustrating in this, my photo yearlist year. Still, I was able to add a few more easy species to the list during those long hours in the field.
Black-necked Grebe, Longham Lakes, Dorset
The best pictures I have managed of this species in breeding plumage
The golden ear-tufts explain the American name for this species, Eared Grebe
Sitting lower in the water in this view...
...but more typically showing a puffed up rear end
Several Med Gulls also at Longham...
...along with the first Sand Martins of the year (#124)...
...and a long-staying female Scaup (#125)
Tufted Duck, Longham Lakes
Believe it or not, we haven't had a Great Crested Grebe this year yet (#126)
...or a Turnstone (Portland Harbour, #127)
This littoralis Rock Pipit was hanging around near the Bonaparte's Gull close to Chesil Centre last weekend - unfortunately the Gull had gone by the time I got there