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28th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 22:35
It'd be pushing it to say that there were high expectations for today but with a fresh north-easterly having sprung up overnight as a weak weather front arrived from the north there was at least some hope that grounded migrant numbers might pick up; in the event, cloud cover didn't arrive until well after dawn and it was as quiet on the ground as it had been for the rest of the week. A Common Rosefinch that dropped into a mist-net in the Crown Estate Field certainly wasn't to be sniffed at, but quality didn't otherwise get beyond an Osprey over Ferrybridge. A strong visible passage for the first few hours of the morning took place on such a broad front that it was tricky to quantify, but sample totals at the Obs included >1000 hirundines, 550 Meadow Pipits, 100 alba wagtails and 46 Siskins. Bitsy interest on the sea included singles of Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Great Skua through off the Bill.

Never a regular autumn visitor to the island, the Common Rosefinch was easily the day's bird highlight © Martin Cade: 

Moth-wise, there was a small increase in immigrant numbers and variety at the Obs were a Convolvulus Hawkmoth was the first to make it into a moth-trap for nearly a fortnight...

...whilst the battered Porter's Rustic was a less than spectacular rarity highlight © Martin Cade: 

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28 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 14:10
Portland Bird Observatory, Quarry and Crown Estate Fields

Wishful thinking on my part, but a late visit to the Obs to see if the Common Rosefinch from this morning was still about. And no surprise, it wasn't.

In the the Obs garden a single Chiffchaff, whilst in the Quarry there were at least 7 Blackcaps, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Dunnocks, a Robin, 2 Blackbirds and a Song Thrush.

I've not walked around the Crown Estate Fields before, but having sought permission I walked clock-wise round and then down through the middle until turning right and back to the entrance. Certainly a lot of birds in here with 60+ Linnets, Goldfinches, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, 3 Kestrels, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, a single Skylark, 2 Pheasants and 2 Dunnocks.
Here are a few images:

In the quarry a hungry Starling feeds on the Blackberries.
Also here a Song Thrush.
The Obs from the Crown Estate Fields.
Not the Common Rosefinch but one of the Dunnocks in the Crown Estate Field
A few of the Linnets in the field.
A Small Heath
And finally a Common Blue.
And another shot.
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle and Museum

A bit cooler today, but still sunny. The Meadow Pipits from early on this morning were still passing overhead this afternoon. Not so many Swallows about, but a few drifting south.

Nearly every flowering Ivy Bush has an Ivy Bee on it, along with Honey Bees, Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum), Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), Pied Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri), Chequered Hoverfly (Melanostoma scalare) and wasps.

The Speckled Woods outnumbered the Red Admirals today with 6 Specks and just the 2 Reds. Also seen 1 Large White and a Small Copper.
Here are a few images from today:

Ivy Bees...........
............and another.
This is a Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)
Two Common Wasps.
A Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
Pied Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri)
Very similar to the Pied Hoverfly, this is the smaller Chequered Hoverfly (Melanostoma scalare)
There are several of this species of hoverfly on the wing. They are the same size as the Marmalade hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus, but I have yet to ID it.
One of the many Speckled Woods seen today.
Stumpy the juvenile Wall Lizard at Rufus Castle

First light this morning there was a steady procession of Meadow Pipits passing overhead.

Ships Today
A British Warship on manoeuvres................
......................which I have been reliably informed is HMS Kent. More on this Frigate Here.
This is the General Cargo vessel "Wilson Dover" flying the flag of Barbados. Its on its way from Southampton to Coruna, Spain. More on this vessel Here.
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Sightings - Thursday 27th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 23:41
Cattle Egret - 19 Abbotsbury Swannery early morning 
Spoonbill - 31 Shipstal (Arne RSPB), 12 Brownsea Island
Osprey - 1 over Abbotsbury Swannery, 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Hobby - 1 Durlston CP, 1 Longham Lakes
Whimbrel - 1 Stanpit
Grey Phalarope - 1 Swanage Bay, 1 Herbury (The Fleet)
Green Sandpiper - 8 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 still at Lodmoor RSPB
Roseate Tern - 1 off Salterns Marina (Poole Harbour)
Woodlark - 1 Portland Bill
Spotted Flycatcher - 4 Durlston CP
Yellow Wagtail - 3 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 1 Stanpit

Little Egret at Hengistbury Head © David Wareham
Lady Amherst's-type Pheasant in private garden, Cerne Abbas © Nicola Duckworth 
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27th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 22:36
This week's run of crystal clear, full moon nights and cloudless, increasingly hot days have been just what the migrants ordered for trouble-free departures from our shores but the birders have been left scratching around with no more than scraps of interest to keep them entertained. The first Woodlark of the autumn was today's highlight at the Bill, where Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail all featured in mid three figure totals overhead. The overwhelming bulk of the numbers of just about everything were overhead, with 50 Skylarks and 22 Siskins further noteworthy totals at the Bill, where 42 Blackcaps was the only worthwhile grounded total. Reports from elsewhere included a presumed Nightingale glimpsed briefly near Nichodemus Knob.

A Radford's Flame Shoulder was the pick of the overnight moth catch at the Obs.

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27 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 18:43
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle and Perryfield Butterfly Reserve

A change of route this evening as it was a bit late, plus had I'd walked my normal route then I would have been in shade for most of it. It was another lovely warm day and though I was late, there were a surprisingly lot of Chiffchaffs about, especially around Perryfields Butterfly Reserve where the sun was still shining. There must have been at least 8 in the Buddleia Bushes and Sycamores.

Elsewhere there were 3 Blackcaps calling from around Rufus Castle, and there was a small flock of 7 Magpies coming into roost in the Sycamores by Church Ope Cove Car Park.

I was a bit late for butterflies, so I thought but I did manage at least 12 Red Admirals and 1 Large White.

Also about were Ivy Bees, wasps and a few Common Drone Flies on the Ivy at the Observation Area by Rufus Castle, whilst at Perryfields I came across a wasp nest and dozens of Common Drones on the Ivy there as well.

Here are few images from this evening:

A Red Admiral soaks up the last of the days sun
A Common Wasp.........
.....and its nest.......
........well hidden in amongst the Portland Stone blocks.
A Common Drone Fly
I thought this was a Marmalade Hoverfly. Its certainly the same size, but those markings are not quite right!
A juvenile Wall Lizard......
......and two more. It looks like one of the youngsters has had a lucky escape.
I'm standing on the old bridge which use to span the Weymouth to Portland railway track. The track is well overgrown, since the last passenger train came this way in the mid 60's
And the same railway track which took through Bottom Combe and into Easton Railway Station.
This tree has a strange looking bark to it.
This is a close-up. First appearance is that its diseased but in fact this is Ulmus alata, Winged Elm.
Shops today
This is the Maltese Vehicles Carrier "Neptune Aegli" on its way from Southampton to an unknown destination. More on this Cargo vessel Here.
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Sightings - Wednesday 26th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 21:08
Garganey - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Cattle Egret - 7 Lodmoor RSPB,  1 Abbotsbury
Great White Egret - 2 Lodmoor RSPB, 1 Rodden Hive
Hen Harrier - 1 female reported at Beaminster Down
Osprey - 1 Herbury/Rodden Hive
Spotted Crake - 1 still at Lodmoor RSPB, 1 probable in flight at Stanpit Marsh
Common Crane - 2 Arne RSPB (from Coombe Heath)
Grey Phalarope -  2 Herbury (The Fleet), 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Green Sandpiper - 6 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 still at Lodmoor RSPB
Caspian Gull - 1 first winter at Portland Bill
Red-backed Shrike - 1 female Seacombe Valley
Firecrest - 2 Hengistbury Head
Red-rumped Swallow - 1 reported over Hengistbury Head
Spotted Flycatcher - 2 Durlston CP
Redstart - 1 Durlston CP
Whinchat - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Tree Sparrow - 1 Portland Bill
Yellow Wagtail - 4 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 2 Lodmoor RSPB
Hawfinch - 1 over Wick Fields (Hengistbury)

Lesser Yellowlegs at Lodmoor RSPB © Derek Fowler

Ringed Plover at Hengistbury Head © David Wareham
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26th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 19:45
A blistering sunshine filled day saw a brief pause in the Meadow Pipit passage we have been experiencing but the Hirundines, wagtails and finches remained true to their usual form with the evening seeing a selection of Yellow, Grey, Pied (and White) Wagtails in one field. Siskins put in another decent showing with 42 over the obs in the morning. Reed Buntings are also becoming a frequent addition to the day tallies as the autumn draws on. A Tree Sparrow added some much needed variety to the proceedings but it was the Hirundines that stole the show with a monumental passage of Swallows and House Martins with a few Sand Martins tagging along for the ride.

The Buzzards always get a bit of stick when they enter the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse (the frequent haunt of the Jackdaw flock) and this cracking action shot sums up their usual reception © Martin King: 

The clear skies have been pretty useless for grounding birds but brilliant for sunsets... © Martin King: 

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26 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 16:40
Mermaid Track, Penns Weare, The Cuttings and Bumpers Lane

Phew what a change in the weather and I was well caught out when I wore my jacket for my walk this morning. The chilly night progressed into a glorious warm sunny afternoon and after walking a couple hundred meters it was jacket off time.

Some really good highlights with my alternative walk today. First off there were hundreds of Swallows, House Martins and a few Sand Martins feeding along the whole length of Penns Weare. Then I came across a Clouded Yellow and then at long last I found not one but 3 colonies of Ivy Bees.

Also recorded was a strange alarm call of a raptor/owl in Penn's Weare just below The Cuttings. Try as I could, using Xeno-canto, I couldn't find anything remotely similar to the calls. Odd. And another oddity here was what I presumed was a Goshawk. Certainly by its size it could have been, but having spoken to Martin Cade (the Warden at Portland Bird Observatory), it is most likely a large Sparrowhawk. The main feature being the outer-corners of the tail feathers. Goshawk's would have more rounded corner whereas like this individual the corners are "squared-off". There's a great Blog which shows the characteristics of both birds Here.

Other than the masses of hirundine there were several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps about, whilst overhead lots of Meadow Pipits were passing through.

Here are a few images from today.

An Ivy Bee
And another.
And one more.
My first colony of Ivy Bees, this one along Penns Weare.
Close to The Cuttings I found two more colonies.
Here's a close up of the 2nd colony.

It has taken me awhile, but today I found my first colony of Ivy Bees. In fact I found 3 colonies, this one along Penn's Weare and the other two close to The Cuttings
As a comparison this is a Honey Bee. A lot larger than an Ivy Bee.
One of the bumblebee family a Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)
Not a bee but a Pied Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri)
I cant figure out whether this is a fly or a hoverfly.
It certainly has an odd look about it!
A Speckled Wood
Red Admiral
A very distant view of Painted Lady.
A Common Field Grasshopper
These corvids are not happy about this Sparrowhawk being on their patch.
In fact more reinforcements arrived to see it off.
Here it can be seen soaring.
Now I was confused about this Sparrowhawk, which is why I asked for a second opinion. It just didn't look like the individual above and was a lot larger, almost the size of a Buzzard. However the corners of the tail are not rounded enough for a Goshawk. Like this individual the corners are very straight.
No confusion with this raptor...........
........a Kestrel at The Cuttings.
And a little later one by Bumpers Lane.
A Cormorant strikes a nice pose.
Whilst this Robin is about to fly off as it realises I'm pointing the camera at it.
A Wall Lizard basking in the warm sunshine.
A nice close up.
Church Ope Cove
Looking north across Weymouth Bay
A couple of new plants for me today this one is........
..........Goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea
......and Common Hawkweed, Hieracium vulgatum.
..........which I first came across on 11 Oct 17 Here.
Birds Recorded: 3 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 7 Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch.

Butterflies Recorded: Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, CommaLarge White, Small White and Green-veined White.

Also recorded: Ivy Bees, Honey Bee, Buff-tailed Bumblebee, wasps, Pied Hoverfly, Common Drone Fly and Tapered Drone Fly
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25th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 22:56
Dawn offered up perfect migration conditions - crisp and clear in a gentle north-easterly - and four figure totals of Meadow Pipit and Swallow were racked up in very quick time; however, with the notable exception of yesterday's likely Monarch butterfly being fully confirmed and a typically out-of-the-blue Cetti's Warbler dropping into a mist-net the day otherwise proved to be a little bit of an anti-climax, with precious little grounded in any quantity. The Bill area Swallow and Meadow Pipit totals reached 5000 and 1000 respectively, with further reports of many thousands of the former from several sites around the north of the island. Most of the other mid-season visible migrants were well represented, with a new Great Spotted Woodpecker and an early-ish Mistle Thrush the best on offer at the Bill. Despite the benign conditions the sea came up with a few surprises including 72 Common Scoter, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas and the first Dark-bellied Brent Goose of the season through off the Bill.

A small influx of immigrant lepidoptera included 6 Clouded Yellows and an obvious increase in Red Admirals around the south of the island, along with the first White-speck of the season from the Obs moth-traps; the first Convolvulus Hawkmoth for over a week was also visiting Nicotiana flowers at the Grove after dark.

Yesterday's presumed Monarch was fully confirmed once it surfaced for a while in the Obs garden as the temperature started to creep up from an overnight single figure low; sadly it hardly looked to be thriving - quite apart from being very battered - and after a few seemingly weak flights and the odd bit of basking it vanished © Martin Cade:

Clouded Yellow was another of the 12 butterfly species logged today, whilst a White-speck was hopefully a sign of moth immigration picking up a little © Roger Hewitt (Clouded Yellow) and Martin Cade (White-speck):

Scarcities don't get much more random in their appearances at Portland than Cetti's Warbler that's less than annual and liable to pop up just about any time during both migration periods © Martin Cade/Erin Taylor:

More usually an October/November visitor to the Bill, Mistle Thrushes are infrequent enough to always arouse interest when they do appear; they're also a bird of which we have absolutely no inkling as to their origins or destination © Martin Cade:
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Sightings - Tuesday 25th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 21:04
Cattle Egret - 1 between Martinstown and Maiden Castle
Common Crane - 2 private site Poole Harbour
Marsh Harrier - 2 Middlebere
Osprey - 1 Lodmoor
Knot - 11 Middlebere
Lesser Yellowlegs -1 Lodmoor
Grey Phalarope -1 Herbury Gore, 1 Abbotsbury
Swallow - 1000 plus over Christchurch Harbour, 6/8000 with House Martins over West Bexington
Spotted Crake - 1 Lodmoor
Grey Phalarope copyright Freddy Alway
Sanderlings Hengistbury Head copyright Clinton Whale

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25 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 19:51
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church, Church Ope Cove and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

This afternoon I did my daily walk and took in Church Ope Cove for a change. No real highlights, though there does seem to be an increase in the number of Red Admirals with at least 10 seen along my walk.

There were at least 3 Chiffchaffs along the Mermaid Track and another by Rufus Castle, where there was also a Blackcap calling. Overhead a few Meadow Pipits passed by and there was a small trickle of Swallows on passage.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

Ivy Bees
And take off.
A Common Carder Bee
Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)
A tatty Red Admiral
And another not so tatty one.
Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera).
A very vocal Common Buzzard.....
.....and a bit of a tatty one at that with quite a few feathers missing.
A few photos of Church Ope Cove
And another.
Rufus Castle from Church Ope Cove
The grounds of St Andrew's Church
Penn's Wood
Portland Bird Observatory and Quarry

News was out this morning that the Monarch butterfly had reappeared in the Obs garden, which was great, as at least it confirmed that it was indeed a Monarch that was seen yesterday evening. Unfortunately by the time I got down there to see it (2 hours later), it had long gone. A bit like the Large Tortoiseshell, it took me 3 days to nail that one, so maybe I'll get lucky.
There was certainly a lot of interest, with the car park almost full with butterfly twitchers all hoping to see it. No Monarch but plenty of other butterflies with Large, Small, Green-veined Whites, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods all on show,

Bird-wise fairly quiet with a Spotted Flycatcher on the wires, Blackcaps and Chiff/Will calling and a Blackbird singing at the bottom of the Obs garden.

Overhead a few Swallows passed over, with the main bulk most likely passing over early this morning at around 8:45am, when there must have been 400+ over Fortuneswell all feeding up before heading down to the Bill and then out to sea.

Hmm a camera shy Spotted Flycatcher
Ships Today
This is a traditional rig sailing vessel "Noah".............
........... Built in Vienna in 1949, it is on its way to Rota, Spain from Cowes. More on this Austrian vessel Here and Here.
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Forum Post: Seen over radipole at about 11am today amazing

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 19:11
Osprey seen over Radipole lake today
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21 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Three: Clymene Dolphins

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 18:00
The first full day at sea on the crossing between St Helena & Ascension Island had started well for Cetaceans with a small party of Sperm Whales & a party of around fifteen Short-finned Pilot Whales before breakfast. This was followed by a brief appearance of a small party of False Killer Whales while most people were still finishing their breakfast. The morning continued with another party of eight Sperm Whales in late morning which were in no hurry to dive & allowed us to have prolonged & close views. Soon after that a distant Orca put in a brief appearance off the port side, but too distant & brief for photos. It all quietened down for Cetaceans for several hours until late afternoon when we picked up a distant pod of at least fifteen Dolphins on the starboard side. Unfortunately, they were hunting & didn't want to come & check out the Plancius. The photos aren't any better than record shots as they didn't come closer than a half mile. However, the photos did allow them to be identified as my first Clymene Dolphins.
Clymene Dolphin: It is just about possible to see the three coluration tones on the right hand most exposed individual. The odd pale marking on the central individual is presumably splashing water or an effect of the harsh crop
Clymene Dolphins are one of the Spinner Dolphin group & are also known as Short-billed Spinner Dolphin. They are a small Dolphin with a maximum size of only 1.9 metres & thus are only about 80% of the size of a Striped Dolphin or one of the Atlantic populations of Short-beaked Common Dolphin. They have similarly markings to the Atlantic population of Spinner Dolphins, which also have a similar range in the Atlantic. Clymene Dolphins occur in the tropical & subtropical Atlantic, Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico, in a broad band from Brazil to New Jersey in the US & from Mauritania to Angola & are typically a deep-water oceanic Dolphin. The key features are they are similar to the larger Spinner Dolphins, more robust in shape & having a shorter & stockier beak and an erect & only slightly falcate dorsal fin. The colouration is a dark grey uppersides, light grey sides & a white belly, with the dark grey dipping into the light grey under the eye & below the dorsal fin. There may also be a dark band running along the rear flanks which Spinner Dolphins do not show. The main separation from the Atlantic population of Spinner Dolphins is Spinner Dolphins are a bit larger (between intermediate in size between a Clymene Dolphin & Short-beaked Common Dolphin), are slimmer with an extremely long & thinner beak and the dorsal fin is either slightly falcate or erect & triangular in shape.Clymene Dolphin: Showing the dark flank stripeClymene DolphinClymene Dolphin: The short beaks are visible on these individualsClymene DolphinOverall, it had been another long, but brilliant day on the Atlantic Odyssey with five Cetaceans species seen & two new Cetaceans for my list: False Killer Whale & Clymene Dolphin.
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