An update... at last!

Whether it's sheer laziness or just a lack of ability to string a few words together for a blogpost I don't know but I've neglected my poor blog for over 6 months now. It's already been quite a busy spring and I've been lucky enough to jam in on some serious falls of birds, of which writing about should have been easy, I was excited enough! Working full time on a PC has got a lot to answer for, who wants to come home and look at a screen for several more hours, not me.

The spring so far in picture and sounds...

Caspian Gull at Radipole, Self found and long awaited Dorset tick

Spotted Redshank at Radipole, Site tick and a great patch bird in the spring.

Little Ringed Plover at Lodmoor, good numbers of these passed through in March

Velvet Scoters - Always exciting 

Black-tailed Godwits at Radipole, Cos' I like the pic

Red-rumped Swallow at Radipole, after a couple of tries this bird finally showed really well for me!

Barwits and Whimbrel off the Chesil, still early but seawatching has been good

Some nice spring Migrants from Portland, Fieldfare, Wheatear and Whinchat.

I'm back - With a Bang!

First of all I should apologize for my absence, things have gotten all too busy of late making birding time limited let alone time for blogging! Since the last post in May I've been to Croatia, started a proper job (insert large groan) and found that it's really hard to juggle a job and a business!

I'm not even sure how to start this post really,  I don't want to miss out the last few months, however I need to start somewhere and this Sunday just gone was a truly superb migrant spectacle on the local patch. Stepping out a little later than I had planned - Alcohol was not involved, just a long week at work! I was struck immediately by the pulses of Hirundines over the Rodwell trail, sadly they were moving on quite a broad front and after a few minutes sample counting I gave up, 5-6000 an hour between Portland Harbour and Smallmouth was my estimate, Sand Martin was not left out with a good few passing in amongst the Swallows. I've got a nice little spot I like to Vismig from along the coast path, it's just below the pop up campsite at Swallows Rest B+B, a high point along the walk. I gave it an hour or so here before deciding to kick around in some fields and Hedgerows, my totals were about on par with those recorded on Portland for the morning so I was rather pleased.

Meadow Pipit - 280+
Tree Pipit - 18
Grey Wag - 20
Reed Bunting - 2
Wheatear - 2 (plus others on the ground)
Barwit - 2
Linnet - 19
House Sparrow - 3 
Swallow - 1000+

Trudging the adjacent fields a family party of Stonechat were harbouring a couple of Whinchat, several Meadow Pipits flushed up including the odd Tree Pipit too - which was probably one bird getting up lots of times. A bird caught my eye as it flew to the ground and then returned to a perch, immediately I grabbed a few photos, I though to myself "Woodchat Shrike would be nice" only It bloody was, I just hadn't quite realised it! It was obscured a lot and looking at my images I realized I was right, although with a bit of panic setting in I doubted myself about the ID - It then popped out no more than 3 meters away...

Several locals appeared and I moved on to other parts of my patch, loads of birds and a superb morning had. I finally made it home at 3:45 fairly knackered but I managed a celebratory beer before a nap! Seriously on it for the autumn now, can't wait for my birding holiday in October - with plenty more blogging!

Guiding Weymouth and Portland

Today I was joined by two Lovely ladies from Sussex. They had joined me for a guiding session to find what Weymouth and Portland have to offer, with the Great-spotted Cuckoo being a principle target. Starting out at 9am Immediately we were treated to a female Marsh Harrier hunting the adjacent farmland, before she dropped down onto something tasty!

 Arriving at Reap Lane on Portland the weather seemed as though it had changed from early summer the day before to late Autumn, It was windy, cold and grey. Sadly it didn't look all the good for the Great-spotted Cuckoo, we spent 20 minutes looking here, joined by juvenile House Sparrows and Starlings. Top fields wasn't any better and the Cuckoo continued to avoid us, although a Swallow flycatching between our legs mad up for it, Raven and Kestrel were also noted here. A little stop at the obs found some Homemade flapjack showing well, sadly it was eaten soon after! Manx Shearwater was another target for the day, although distant at least 5 birds were seen along with Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and both the Commoner auks. 

Our next stop was to view the Little Tern Colony at Ferrybridge, somehow we saw Common and Sandwich Tern before Little, however Little numbers were way beyond 20 albeit at distance. 

Our final stop of the morning was Radipole Lake RSPB, we wanted to find Bearded Tit, although a tall order at any time of year, summer can be really tough due to the thickness of the reedbed. Our quest did provide some stunning views of Swifts hawking low overhead and at times below us! Reed, Cetti's and Sedge Warbler were all ticked off quite easily with two latter showing really nicely. A Bearded Tit finally put in an appearance though sadly only seen by myself and one of my guests, they really are tough especially if you're not looking the right way. Reed Bunting, Oystercatcher, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron and the common ducks were also seen here, sadly we couldn't find any Bee Orchids though. All in all a little quieter morning than we could have had but great company and some really nice birding around some local sites.  

 If you fancy joining me for a half or full day's guiding check out -  Come and Join me in the autumn for some of the best south coast migration!

New Forest Field Trip 26th May

Apologies for the slightly later than planned posting, shortly after the trip I spent the weekend in North Hampshire watching Red Kites and Stone Curlews - But that's for another post!

After a painless drive to Acres Down my group assembled for a quick briefing before we started the walk, I'd outlined the main targets of the day and within very quick time we encountered our first singing Firecrest of the morning, this was joined by a couple of Common Crossbill right above our heads! Several more singing Firecrest were noted before anything else to really add, a Wood Warbler I picked up singing in a little glade was almost impossible to see though most got a couple of glimpses though it sang continually and superbly. One of the New Forests' star birds popped up next, walking past a little clearing we were joined by a Goshawk over the near pine belt, this was a new bird for most of the group and not far off my best view of this species in Britain, sadly my photo doesn't really do it justice!

More Wood Warblers proved elusive as we neared Bolderwood, though a Redstart bucked the trend by sitting out singing for all to watch, this species seemed to be in much lower numbers than in previous years, although if already raising young they may just be a little more secretive.

 Tree Pipit, Marsh Tit and several more parties of Crossbill were added in Bolderwood and a Cuckoo finally showed itself and offered great 'scope views to the group. We began to make our way back to Acres Down again, compared to the walk out it was much, much quieter but it had begun to warm up and time was getting on, plenty of birds were to be seen however with Firecrests stealing the show! A Stop for Coffee and some superb home made flapjack before walking to the raptor view point was much required, although it took a little while we did manage to see several raptor species from the top, although distant some good views were obtained. A short list of the highlights is included below.

Goshawk - 2
Wood Warbler - 4+
Cuckoo - 3+
Redstart - 5
Crossbill - 20+
Tree Pipit - 1
Firecrest - 20+
Marsh Tit - 2
Common Buzzard - 7
Sparrowhawk - 1

A very enjoyable walk was had by all and I'd like to thank everyone for coming along.

Portland Sunday 22nd May

On Sunday I was joined by a small group for a Guided walk at Portland Bill, the weather was still and quite warm so hopes were high for some late migrants as well as the common species present at the bill. Meeting in the Carpark I quickly picked up a Great Skua passing on the sea, sadly this is one of the worst viewpoints and was only briefly seen before departing east and disappearing behind the rocks. Guillemots and Razorbills put on a good show for us from the colony, unfortunately Puffin eluded us yet again but Kittiwake, Fulmar and several Gannets afforded good views. The 'Portland' Rock Pipits showed well for us, showing all the weird features that the locals seem to have, including some of the littoralis lookalikes. One of the Obs Quarry Little Owls showed superbly for us around the hut fields, although I've seen them well here before none of them have performed this well.

As we aproached the Obs KP alerted us to a Turtle Dove showing nicely at the Obs, with a brisk walk ensuing we were all able to enjoy excellent scope views, for 2 of my guests this was a UK tick, with the way things are going it might be one of the last Turtle Doves I see too.