Monday 12 September 2016

Closer to home...

After a (literally) high octane trip to the Isles of Scilly on Saturday with number 2 son, yesterday was spent closer to home with an early morning stroll around the patch at Swineham (more on that later), followed by cheerleading duties at number 1 son's first football game of the season.
Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Wyke Regis
Adult Woodchat is a striking bird, but I like the subtle scalloping of the juvenile plumage
As the final whistle blew on that, we (club secretary and fellow birder Jol, and his son Joe) realised that we were half way to Wyke Regis, where a Woodchat Shrike found by Joe Stockwell was reportedly showing off to all comers. We braved the threatened traffic chaos of the Weymouth 'Iron Man' event (which didn't disappoint: there was plenty of chaos) and arrived on the baking banks of the Fleet lagoon to find the Shrike playing hide and seek around the edges of a weedy field and horse paddock.
The Shrike sat up in front of us for an extended period...
...but there was no way go get that pesky branch out of the way!
It even turned around for a rear view
We secreted ourselves up against a hedge and I peeked around the corner to look for the Shrike. There was no sign of it but a movement in the top of the hedge caught my eye. All I could see was a pipit-like streaky breast but then with a bit more movement it materialised into the Ortolan Bunting found earlier in the day by Brett Spencer, who had gone to photograph the Woodchat.
Better qualified people might be able to identify the prey item here
Some kind of beetle, I presume
Easily picked out in the hedgerow, even from distance

Just when I thought that was a real bonus, Joe tapped me on the shoulder and indicated excitedly that I should look to my left - the Shrike had just landed in the nearest bush at point blank range. We watched it watching us for a few minutes before it dropped down to feed on the ground. My youngest son Rowan, now listing like a crazy man following his success with the Cliff Swallow the previous day, joined us to try his luck for some photos. The confiding Shrike was unperturbed, and we filled our boots.
This Ortolan Bunting popped up within yards of the Shrike
A Common Redstart was also in the same area - looked a bit 'eastern' at first glance with a pale panel in the wing!
A Wheatear sat up on the fence around the paddock
The same fields held a Redstart, a couple of Whinchats and several Yellow Wagtail, so it felt like a proper little migrant trap for the afternoon. The return journey involved another unplanned scenic tour of the Dorset AONB courtesy of the Iron Man road closures but still a great day with the family to cap a highly successful weekend.
A young Swallow begging for food near the paddocks
Whinchat on the wires


  1. Lovely photos Peter, glad you like my little hidden gem on the fleet. Its a proper migrant trap!

  2. Lovely photos Peter, glad you like my little hidden gem on the fleet. Its a proper migrant trap!

  3. Thanks Joe, and well done on a cracking find