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. 


Long MAY this continue

Well it just keeps getting better and better it seems! I don't like running, I've never felt all the good at it and the end result is a painful sweaty mess, wandering through town to Radipole I had no idea that I was about to read this on my phone.

It didn't take long for any rational thought to disappear and before I knew it I was in a near sprint for my car just over a mile away. Trying to change gear whilst shaking with adrenalin and lactic acid wasn't all that easy but seemingly I managed okay arriving at Reap Lane just 15 minutes after the message, more running ensued, sadly in the wrong direction and away from where the bird was about to end up. To cut a long story short, it was tough going but the bird was found at Reap Lane and performed brilliantly for the next hour!

Such a phenomenally good bird and one I've been after ever since looking a bird book with European birds in! It took a good few hours to wake up after that one, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur, however it did result in me bumping into a Garganey at Lodmoor in the afternoon.

I had to go and work at the Arne Café on Saturday morning, though before that another quick visit to Lodmoor resulted in a very distant Red-rumped Swallow.

Today's Highlight and more Patchwork challenge points came from this Great White Egret at Radipole from the North Hide. Such an outrageously good spell has to come to and soon, I really hope it doesn't though as I'm Absolutely loving it!

May Madness!

It's all begun to happen, after a very slow April the better birds started to come through thick and fast. The Kentish Plover on the 1st didn't hang around and I only saw it the once, the next day saw a Roseate Tern fishing off the Chesil and 2 flew through the following day, the 5th saw me on the Chesil at 5:30, alomost immediately rewarded with a flock of Terns heading over the beach, Common, Arctic and most importantly 3 Black Tern, a Patch Tick for me! A further 4 were seen during the morning, I'd arranged a Wader ID session at Ferrybridge for 10am so departed from the beach an met my small group in the car park. A few Dunlin, Ringed Plover and 3 Sanderling were present, along with a couple of Whimbrel and Oystercatcher, about 30 minutes in I was alerted by a Trill call coming from behind, expecting it to be a Serin I called it as such but fairly quickly realized it didn't sound right and much more like a Temminck's Stint! I picked up the bird in question and fired off a couple of photos, it pitched in for about 15 seconds before flying strongly north without hesitation, my photos revealed white outer tail sides, a clincher for ID even if it hadn't called. 2 Knot dropped in out of nowhere, as did 3 Barwit, some Turnstones were milling around for a while to take us to 9 Species of Wader, not the best count but filled with quality!

Black Terns and the Temminck's Stint

The 6th saw a mad dash after a cafe shift to Lodmoor for a Cattle Egret, this was another patch first and my first in Dorset for 4 years! I decided on a visit to the beach in the evening as the evening was lovely and passage had been good in the morning, 8 Pomarine Skuas passed almost as I arrived which later moved on east and round the Bill, a flock of Black-headed Gulls passed through with what is considered to be a very good candidate for American Herring Gull, although it was muttered at the time, views weren't great in the fading light, I was lucky enough to see the bird again on the 9th and fired of a few more photos, again the bird does seriously resemble a Smith, however I haven't any field experience with this species but I reckon it could be one - but what do I know!. Then onto this morning where a Black-winged Stilt was found at Lodmoor, It showed superbly well on the west scrape and brings an end to an awesome 10 days birding around Weymouth and Portland! Come and Join me soon, just look at what's on offer! 

?American Herring Gull
Black-winged Stilt

Want to be a part of the Action? Why not Join me for a Dorset Day Tour? or even spend a couple of days with me in the Autumn, the birding possibilities in this wonderful county are near endless, join me soon!

Sounds of Spring - Lodmoor 1st May

7am is a lovely time of day, we can all agree as lovers of wildlife that if you wish to experience the best action that early morning is best. A small group assembled for my Sounds of Spring walk this Sunday with the aim to see as many warblers as we could and adding on anything else nice in the process. We started the day superbly well with a Garden Warbler at the entrance, this isn't always the easiest bird to see, they either hide or they're not there at all! Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warbler were next to fall all singing brilliantly along the path, the first two I've attached recordings of at the bottom. The Radipole Hooded Merganser flew around the reserve briefly before heading back west to where it belongs, it's always exciting to see him flying around and surely gives him slightly better credentials? Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat all put in an appearance, though sadly the latter was only seen in flight and not by all. Bearded Tits called as we headed towards the Rugby Club and two obliged by flying over us, a further 3 were seen slightly further on. 90 minutes passed by and were were struggling to see or even hear a Willow Warbler until a familiar hoo-eet sounded from a willow (conveniently) and our 9th Warbler species was seen. Other sightings included Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Pochard, Swallow, House Martin and Swift. It was a superb morning enjoyed by all.

Checking my phone upon leaving alerted me to the presence of a Kentish Plover at Ferrybridge, although I've seen a few, they've all been females or Juveniles so we got a shift on just in case It was a male.Upon arrival I greeted the Seamists who told me it was indeed a male but it flew off minute before...

I was however on alert for when it reappeared! Not that my photo does it any justice!!