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13 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Sixteen: Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sun, 06/24/2018 - 18:00
On the afternoon we left Tristan da Cunha and started sailing toward St Helena, we had our first memorial Dolphin encounter of the Odyssey. Up to that point, the Dolphin sightings had been disappointing. I had seen Hourglass Dolphins from the Plancius on a couple of occasions, but they had both been very brief sightings. But this afternoon we had a pod of at least ten Short-beaked Common Dolphins which joined the Plancius for an extended period of bow-waving. I had expected we would see Short-beaked Common Dolphins on a number of occasions on the Odyssey, given they are a relatively widespread Dolphin. However, checking their distribution shows that they do not occur in the Tropical central Atlantic, although they do occur along the full length of the African coast. Additionally, they occur in the Southern Atlantic about as far North as Tristan da Cunha & in the North Atlantic as far South as the Cape Verde Islands. This was the only sighting we had on the Plancius during the Odyssey voyage. However, we did get a number of additional sightings on the follow on West African Pelagic. This pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins were just magical & the light was excellent, so sit back & enjoy the photos.
Short-beaked Common DolphinShort-beaked Common Dolphin:Short-beaked Common Dolphins have this very distinctive pattern with the dark V below the dorsal finShort-beaked Common Dolphin: A very clean entry back into the seaShort-beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: Close up of the beak of the previous individualShort-beaked Common DolphinShort-beaked Common DolphinShort-beaked Common DolphinThe taxonomy of Common Dolphins has changed over the years & a few years ago, Common Dolphins were split into Short-beaked Common Dolphin & Long-beaked Common Dolphin. Marijke said that the very latest understanding seems to be these are just subspecies of Common Dolphin within most of their range. However, the some of the Pacific populations are still being investigated as to whether these should be split from Common Dolphin. I'm going to stick with the taxonomy of the Marine mammals of the World Second Edition which splits them.
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The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 23-06-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Sun, 06/24/2018 - 08:32
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

The nature of Dorset yesterday in tweets, charts, photographs and maps along with other sources of news of nature conservation and general wildlife interest:

  • Yesterday.s recorded sightings of mammals, birds, insects, plants and more
  • The current recording "hot-list" - the best recorded 30 species in the last 30 days
  • A map of sites where yesterdays records came from - what was seen near you?
  • Yesterday's records in graphical form to show the highlights
  • The pick of the photographs that came with the tweets
  • Interesting news items, notices of events and links to blogs
  • Links to the Nature of Dorset Daily newspaper and to various other blogs from Dorset conservation organisations

Everything you wanted to know and more ... and it's free of charge and free of adverts!


Published Date: Monday, 25 December, 2017 - 09:30 newsdesk logo.jpg
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23rd June

Portland Bird Observatory - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 23:31
Plenty more sunshine although in an increasingly noticeable breeze not quite a hot as might have been expected today. The sea came up with the best of the numbers, with 65 Common Scoter, 8 Sandwich Terns, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Curlew through off the Bill. Three apparently new Chiffchaffs were a surprise on the land at the Bill, whilst 24 Dunlin, 3 Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Shelduck made up the list from Ferrybridge.

Singles of Delicate and Cream-bordered Green Pea were the immigrant/wandering moths making it into the Obs traps overnight.
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Sightings - Saturday 23rd June 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 20:45
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit Marsh.
Red Kite - 1 over Blandford.
Little Ringed Plover - 4 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Green Sandpiper - 7 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Dunlin - 24 Ferrybridge.

Chaffinches – Fontmell Down © Roger Peart.  

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23 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 18:03
Mermaid Track and Rufus Castle

A much shorter walk this afternoon, as it would have been too hot for Benji and Ted to have walked any great distance. It was certainly another scorcher with temperatures well into the 20's.

I certainly didn't fall short on any wildlife and had some interesting insects on my walk, with a hoverfly Xylota segnis, a 2nd instar nymph of a Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina), a Scorpionfly (Panorpa germanica), a Sand Wasp (Ectemnius sp.), several Dark Bush-crickets and my first Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) on Portland.

On the butterfly front, I came across 2 Marbled White butterflies, several Meadow Browns, 2 Ringlets, a Common Blue and singles of Small Skipper and Large Skipper.
Just two moths a Silver Y and a possible Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata).
Not too many birds on this particular walk, but I did have a very vocal male Blackcap singing away along the "Mermaid" track Here.

Here are few images from this afternoon:

A Harlequin comes into land and begins to fold up its wings.........
......and then seeks a bit of shade. More on this invasive ladybird Here.
Several Meadow Browns on the wing........
......and a Marbled White. I came across two today along the "Mermaid" track.
Hopefully I've got this the right way round a Small Skipper......
.........and a Large Skipper.
A Common Blue. The only one I saw on my walk.
This is a very odd looking hoverfly........
.......and is a Xylota segnis. This hoverfly doesn't have a common name but here is an interesting extract courtesy of Wikipedia "The genus name Xylota is the Latinized form of the rare Byzantine-Greek ξυλωτή [xsylōtē] meaning wooden, while the Latin species name segnis means slipping or lazy, as this hoverfly usually rests on a leaf and it does not fly frequently. The translation of the taxon could be "lazy wood fly".
Countless numbers of these Swollen-thighed Beetles about. This male has just landed on the flower of a Bindweed.

A 2nd instar nymph.......
...........of the Common Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina
Looking back towards the archway at Rufus Castle. Along the well vegetated wall I came across..........
...........this Scorpionfly, Panorpa germanica.
Despite its fierce looking appearance it feeds mainly on rotting fruit and plants, and occasionally on dead insects.
I think this is a Sand Wasp, but as to which one, I'm not sure. So Ectemnius sp. for the time being.
Sometimes you only get shot and for this particular moth that was the case. I believe its a Small Fan-footed Wave, Idaea biselata.
Ships Today
It has been awhile since I have noticed any ships sailing past Portland, but today this Crude Oil Tanker flying the flag of the Marshall Islands was on its way to Fawley from the Suez, Egypt. More on the "Pink StarsHere.
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13 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Sixteen: The Curse Of Friday 13th

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 18:00
I was up earlier than normal today as the plan was to land on Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha group. This is an amazing island & one that I was really looking forward to visiting. It is uninhabited, but it contains a number of huts which are owned by Tristan da Cunha families as they regard Nightingale Island as their holiday island. It is really a fantastic place for Birding as the island is full of nesting Seabirds including 2 million pairs of Great Sheatwaters & Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. However, the other interest was the chance to look for the island's Passerines: Tristan Thrush, Nightingale Finch & Wilkins's Finch. The two Finches look similar in colouration to the Gough Bunting i.e. a pale yellow-olive Finch. However, whilst Nightingale Finch has retained a relatively normal bill, the Wilkins's Finch has developed a very heavy bill. I guess they could be considered the Tristan da Cunha equivalent of the Darwin Finches of the Galapagos.
Nightingale Island: Large waves were breaking against this rugged island. The island is about a 1.5 miles by 1 mileThe plan the evening before was that there would be a landing & the chance for the fitter people to walk up to the higher elevations of the island to look for Wilkins's Finch. It should be possible to see the Nightingale Finch & Tristan Thrush (which is noticeably darker than the subspecies on Tristan da Cunha) at lower elevations. It wasn't expected to be an easy walk as initially there is a steep muddy path up from the beach (with a rope to hang onto to help the ascent), followed by a walk through head high grass along a path that probably hadn't been walked this year. The Petrels group were planned to be first to land & we had requested that the first zodiacs would contain those Birders who were wanting to get up to the higher parts of the island. I went to bed with high hopes for the morning on Nightingale Island & ready to be on the first zodiac.
Nightingale Island: A zodiac was launched to see if it was possible to get in the zodiacsSadly, it all came to nothing. As the Plancius approached the island, it was clear that the swell was too bad to be able to get the zodiacs into the water & land at one of the two safe landing sites on the island. We were told we would have to make do with a circular cruise around Nightingale Island from the Plancius. I was deeply disappointed as had heard great stories from other Birders who had been lucky to land on Nightingale Island. However, when I was reading trip reports from previous Odyssey trips, it was clear that the weather in the South Atlantic was likely to stop landings or zodiac cruises on at least one day around South Georgia, Gough Island & the Tristan da Cunha islands. So far, we had been successful with all planned landings or zodiac cruises & therefore, the odds were against us for this final landing in the Tristan da Cunha islands. Being Friday 13th didn't help for those who were superstitious.
Scanning from the top deckIt was a case of trying to find a good viewpoint & scanning the island from the Plancius. By now I was starting to regard the bridge wings as my daytime home, But I had to consider also finding a position where I wasn't too far from a mate with a scope & tripod. Realistically, we were too far to use the bins to try picking out the Passerines onshore. There were various individuals who were getting brief views of a larger (Tristan Thrush) or smaller (Nightingale Finch) Passerine along the rocks or around the huts. I did get the chance to borrow a scope for a few minutes, but I failed to get onto any Passerines.
Inaccessible Island: It lived up to its name today. This is the only breeding island for Spectacled Petrels and it also hosts another 2 million pairs of Great ShearwatersAfter the zodiac cruise around Nightingale Island we carried on to circumnavigate Inaccessible Island. It was clear that it would live up to its name today & that we would not get the chance to get the zodiacs into the water here either. Landings on Inaccessible Island are very rare & zodiac cruises are not common here either. In addition to the different subspecies of the three Passerines found on Nightingale Island, there is also the small flightless Inaccessible Rail on the island. Despite a lot of scanning from the Plancius, there was nothing seen apart from the occasional brief glimpses of a Tristan Thrush (which I didn't get to see).
Inaccessible IslandHaving circumnavigated Inaccessible Island, we headed back to Tristan da Cunha, to drop the islanders who had been our guides. It was disappointing, but all zodiac landings & cruises are down to the state of the weather & it was clearly not feasible today: c'est la vie. We quickly dropped the islanders, loaded some fresh lobsters (for the non vegies), some potatoes (for me) & extra beer. Then it was time to start heading North West as we had another 4.5 days of sailing until we reached our next island of St Helena. We still had an afternoon of Birding so after lunch we were back on deck for some seawatching. There was a good selection of the same Albatrosses, Shearwaters & Petrels we had been seeing on the previous few days. However, the most interesting Birds were seeing reasonable numbers of White-bellied Storm-petrels. We had seen Storm-petrels with white-bellies when we were around Gough Island and approaching Tristan da Cunha, however, these had been the 'White-bellied' subspecies of Black-bellied Storm-petrel. Finally, we had some White-bellied Storm-petrels for comparison.
White-bellied Storm-petrel: The leucogaster subspecies breeds on the Tristan da Cunha Islands and perhaps Gough Island. White-bellied Storm-petrels have shorter legs that do not significantly extend beyond the tail. They also have a concave black undertail coverts pattern so the white belly is also curved
White-bellied Storm-petrel: Another view of the same individual confirming the short legs
White-bellied Storm-petrel: A closer crop of the same individual showing the shorter hood of White-bellied Storm-petrels & the shape of the white belly & black undertail coverts
White-bellied Storm-petrel: A second individual with short legs, the narrower hood & the vent/undertail pattern
White-bellied Storm-petrel: Another view of the second individual. They have a narrower rump patch with dark spotting to the longest uppertail coverts: unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a good photo of the rump
White-bellied Storm-petrel: A final individual
White-bellied Storm-petrel: Another view of the final individual
White-bellied Storm-petrel: The last photo of the final individual
A few days earlier we were lucky to have an excellent talk from fellow passenger, Bob Flood, on the identification of White-bellied Storm-petrels & 'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrels in the Atlantic: which made this difficult subject seem more straight-forward. One potential feature that Bob may have missed it White-bellied Storm-petrels prefer to fly over areas of bright blue sea, whereas 'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrels prefer grey seas.
Bob Flood giving his excellent talk on the identification of Storm-petrels with white-bellies: (8 Apr 18)
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: The melanoleuca subspecies breeds on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands. This one doesn't seem to show the long feet. Black-bellied Storm-petrels also have a larger hood & a clean square cut off between the white belly & the black undertail coverts. Approach to Gough Island (9 Apr 18)
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: The same individual seen on the approach to Gough Island (9 Apr 18)
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Showing the longer legs which clearly extend beyond the tail in flight seen off Gough Island (10 Apr 18)
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Seen off Gough Island (10 Apr 18)
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: The rump size does seem to be variable on these 'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrels. This also shows the clearly long legs seen off Gough Island (10 Apr 18)
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The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 22-06-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 08:39
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

The nature of Dorset yesterday in tweets, charts, photographs and maps along with other sources of news of nature conservation and general wildlife interest:

  • Yesterday.s recorded sightings of mammals, birds, insects, plants and more
  • The current recording "hot-list" - the best recorded 30 species in the last 30 days
  • A map of sites where yesterdays records came from - what was seen near you?
  • Yesterday's records in graphical form to show the highlights
  • The pick of the photographs that came with the tweets
  • Interesting news items, notices of events and links to blogs
  • Links to the Nature of Dorset Daily newspaper and to various other blogs from Dorset conservation organisations

Everything you wanted to know and more ... and it's free of charge and free of adverts!


Published Date: Monday, 25 December, 2017 - 09:30 newsdesk logo.jpg
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

22 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 22:52

Another beautiful sunny day spent in the back garden and the first BBQ of the year to end the day.

The cherry tree is going down well with the local Blackbirds and it was interesting to note that the resident male was very tolerant of a juvenile feeding on the other side of the tree.

The real highlight though was my first Greenfinch on the sunflower feeder, hopefully there will be many more to come.

The pond was still attracting the Semaphore Flies and today there seemed to be a lot more about. A Common Carder Bee was on the Purple Loosestrife and there were a few hoverflies on the wing with both Marmalade and Long hoverflies about.

Still a few Swollen-thighed Beetles in the flower beds and I came across 3 moths, a Silver Y, a Common Nettle-tap moth and one to ID.

High up in the neighbours tree there were a few insects which were proving difficult to ID let alone see and they were an Ichneumon wasp, a vespula wasp sp. and an odd looking insect which was totally green bar the wings.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

The cherries are just starting to turn red.......
.......which hasn't gone unnoticed by this male Blackbird and............
.......presumably one of its offspring.
Amazing that the male Blackbird was so tolerant of this juvenile on "his" Cherry Tree.
A first for the garden a Greenfinch.........
........which suddenly realised I was just a few feet away. It did come back later.
A Buzzard passes by, upsetting......
.........the local Herring Gulls. A quick drop in altitude and it carried on its way unchallenged.
Lurking in the neighbours Buckthorn a Dunnock, which if I hadn't used a bit of flash, would have passed by unnoticed. It is a pitch black in the centre of this tree.

A bit of aerobics going on here. A fan tail.
Balancing on one leg.
Wing stretches
And finally a left wing and tail manoeuvre. I think the other Collared Dove has lost interest.
The garden pond with its main inhabitants......
......Semaphore Flies. The fly on the left is a female and the male is bottom right with the white wing markings.
The female flew off as he landed.
A Swollen-thighed Beetle.
And another.
A Long Hoverfly, Sphaerophoria scripta
A Common Nettle-tap moth, Anthophila fabriciana
An intriguing looking insect which is all green, other than the wings!!
I took loads of shots of this Ichneumon wasp, but not once did it turn around to face me as it rested high up in the neighbours tree.

A small wasp. Vespula sp.
A Silver Y I came across in the back garden along with.......
........and one to ID.
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22nd June

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 22:39
The unbroken sunshine and increasing warmth of today weren't really the conditions likely to drop a surprise and a new Reed Warbler at the Bill was the best of the few new arrivals. A few Swifts also trickled over there, 8 Common Scoter, 4 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Mediterranean Gull passed through on the sea and 17 Dunlin and a Sanderling were at Ferrybridge.

Moth immigration remained at a standstill but a White Satin at Weston was the best local record amongst a few strays making it out to the island.
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Sightings - Friday 22nd June 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 22:11
Little Ringed Plover - 3 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Grey Plover - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Lapwing - 25 Stanpit Marsh.
Dunlin - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Wood Sandpiper - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery.
Green Sandpiper - 3 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Greenshank - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB. Colour-ringed bird returned for a 3rd autumn.

Lapwing – Stanpit Marsh © Clinton Whale.   
Shelduck – Stanpit Marsh © Clinton Whale.
Sandwich Tern – Brownsea Island © Clive & Rosemary Hargrave.
Oystercatcher – Brownsea Island ©Clive & Rosemary Hargrave.
Common Tern – Brownsea Island ©Clive & Rosemary Hargrave. 

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12 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Fifteen: Gough Moorhen

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 18:00
The last Post covered my views of Tristan Thrush. After getting some quick views & photos, I was waiting for a gap between the arrival of new Birders to pop back to the viewing point in the bushes. However, before I got the chance to have another look, my Ozzy mate, Geoff Jones, arrived & asked to borrow my 100-400mm lens. I got left with his 500mm lens & 1.4 extender (which gave me the equivalent of over 1100mm as the Canon 7D has an internal magnification of 1.6 times). Clearly, I wasn't going to have a chance of getting any photos of the Tristan Thrush when it was only a couple of metres away with this big lens. About this time it dropped into the nearby gully & Geoff and an couple of other Birders followed it down into the gully. This had an immediate bonus as they disturbed a Gough Moorhen that had been quietly feeding there. It was great to see a Gough Moorhen properly, given the minimal views that we had the previous day. Even better was having Geoff's big lens when it broke cover.
Gough Moorhen: Initially it ran across the gully before attempting to hide behind this grassy tussockGough Moorhen: The ancestors are believed to have been the Southern African subspecies of Moorhen, rather than the Southern American subspecies of the recently split American MoorhenGough Moorhen: Note, the greenish legs. They have had to adapt to this long grassy habitat as there are few ponds on Tristan da CunhaGough Moorhen: An action shot as it broke cover along what looked to be a regular trackwayAfter seeing both Tristan Thrush & Gough Moorhen well, we were happy to wander back to the settlement in search of some food.
Walking back to the settlementThe local busA good numberplate TDC1There was time to look around the settlement before & after a visit to the cafe, the site of some excellent chocolate cafe.
The excellent cafe was very popularPoster of the view of the settlementThe island family treeAn old hut within the settlementMost of the homes looked fairly modernBut some were older like this quaint small houseOur home in the distanceThese flowers helped to make it look even prettierAnother view of the settlement: which is dominated by the high slopes above it
There were some nice edges to some of the gardensThe volcano erupted in 1961 & lava threatened to engulf the settlement: The lava flow is right next to the settlementThe latest lava flow: The UK government had to evacuate the islanders & they were housed in an old RAF camp in Calshot (which was alongside one of my ex-birding patches from my days of living in Southampton)Another view of the latest lava flow: Most of the islanders returned in 1963Time to head back to the quay
Antarctic Tern: On the quay. They have very large bills compared to Common Terns & Arctic Terns
Antarctic Tern: The apparent extent of the white forehead varied with the angle
Antarctic Tern: Flying around the Plancius
Antarctic Tern: A final flypastFinally, we had to catch a zodiac back onto the Plancius. Leon's father, who was also the island copper, & three other locals joined us on the Plancius as we would not be allowed to land without guides on Nightingale. It was interesting hearing their commentary on the history & natural history of the two offshore islands. We sailed that evening for Nightingale Island.
One of the zodiacs heads back for another group of returning passengersThe harbour entrance
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. This will be one of the final chances to see an AlbatrossYellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed AlbatrossYellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. I saw 8 of the 15 species of Albatross recognised by Clements on the OdysseyA brief view of one of the two peaks of Tristan da CunhaAnother night I didn't see the mythical green flash
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