Monday 18 January 2016

Grey Sunday

It was a bit of a Grey Sunday around Portland and Weymouth yesterday weather wise. Fortunately it was brightened up by some smart birds, the memory of which was enough to cheer me along on the way into work this morning on Blue Monday - the most depressing day of the year, apparently. As well as a handsome male Black Redstart at Chesil Cove, a female type was also present. A few pictures of this and some other highlights of the day below.
Black Redstart, Chesil Cove
Just as confiding as the male
Always a pleasure to bump into this species
It's been a good winter for approachable Great Northern Divers
This one was close in off Portland Castle
A Kestrel at Portland Bill was a bit bedraggled
The Bill quarry Little Owls have a bit more shelter
Male Red-breasted Merganser near Portland Castle
Wren, Portland Bill
I was able to photograph this Dartford Warbler at Portland Bill out of the car window
On the way home, a Goldcrest was singing over the traffic noise in downtown Weymouth
Med Gull is virtually guaranteed in the Radipole Lake car park at this time of year

Sunday 17 January 2016

Best looking bird in Dorset?

A matter of opinion, obviously, but if there is a better looking bird in Dorset at the moment, I would like to see it. I set out hoping this cracking male Black Redstart would still be at Chesil Cove this morning, and while on arrival only a female was present, by the time I had walked a few hundred yards south under the west cliffs of Portland and back, he was feeding around, and at one point under, my car. I couldn't quite get the bird in shot with the old banger, but no matter.

Monday 11 January 2016

Time with the extended family

There are five species of 'true' tit on the Dorset list - Willow is sadly now lost to the County as a breeding bird, leaving Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh as the most likely to be seen these days. (Long-tailed, Bearded and Penduline Tit are all from closely related families, but are not considered 'true' tits). After Willow, Marsh Tit is the least likely of the 'true' tits to be encountered, but there are a few sites in Purbeck where they may come to feeders in winter, including Arne and, this winter, Corfe Castle. I popped along there yesterday, in the half-hour of daylight which remained after watching table-topping Wareham Rangers U-13s drop three points at home to the Parkstone Falcons. A result, since you ask, which leaves them just three points ahead of second-placed Swanage, who they play in their next fixture - making it a real six-pointer of a Purbeck derby. The light was going as I arrived, and had I known the boys were going to get mugged in a last minute counter-attack I might have invested the 60 minutes I spent before that, watching them spurn a hatful of chances, getting better photos of Marsh Tit!
Marsh Tit, Corfe Castle
The much commoner Blue Tit at Corfe Castle
This Coal Tit was seen earlier in the day at Bestwall
Great Tit among the pines at Swineham earlier in the day
Long-tailed Tit, from the family Aegithalidae, at Swineham

Saturday 2 January 2016

Quantity v quality

Well my 2015 photo year list finally ended on 240 species, the final addition being some colourful Crossbills in Wareham Forest photographed on 29th December. While I never set a target exactly, I said earlier in the year that I would be disappointed not to get to 200 and delighted to get to 250; so just short of delighted will have to do. 250 was definitely within reach, but would have meant doing things like going to Hampshire for Ferruginous and Ring-necked Ducks, and to be honest I wasn't that committed! The real value of the exercise was undoubtedly the extra impetus it provided to get out and about, and it certainly helped achieve that when motivation was lacking.

The down side of the photo yearlist was the compulsion to post even lower quality pictures than normal, and I haven't exactly been too precious about photographic quality over the years! Even so, I don't think I'll try to repeat the exercise in 2016, and will try to raise the quality of the offerings above last year's level. Starting with a few subjects from the first days of 2016 around the north shore of Poole Harbour. In the effort to raise quality over quantity, some light would help, but there hasn't been much of that yet this year in Dorset, so high ISO ratings have had to come to the rescue.
A pair of Purple Sandpipers bathing in the surf at North Haven this afternoon
As long as you are patient and don't mind risking wet feet, close views can be had

This Great Northern Diver was very close in off Baiter Park on New Year's Day
Water off a diver's back
Brent Geese have also been feeding close to the Baiter Park car park
Bad weather suppressed the disturbance from dog walkers yesterday but they were back out in force today
Rock Pipit on the beach at Baiter
The same bird on the flooded playing fields
The distinctive wing pattern of Turnstone in flight
Turnstone feeding on the beach at Baiter