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26 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 18:11
Wakeham
I decided to forgo my permitted exercise walk today and spent the day in the back garden potting up plants and checking out the wildlife.

Quite a few birds about including what I'm pretty sure was a Willow Warbler moving through the neighbouring gardens. My rationale below.

Overhead a Raven passed by, cronking away as they do and the local Kestrel was checking out the Lower Horse paddock for a meal.
In the garden a Peacock landed next to the pond and the flower beds were alive Mining Bees and Furrow Bees.

On one of the Red Valerian I came across a Common Green Shieldbug

Here are a few images from today:

A Chiffchaff or a Willow Warbler. Those primaries (wing feathers) look very long, I'm betting this is a Willow Warbler. Not that the long wing feathers are anything to go by, but this was very yellow plumaged bird and was silent. All the Chiffchaffs I have had passing through the garden have been light brown to olive green and very vocal. I know when I was talking to the ringers at Portland Bird Observatory last Spring, even they were coming across Chiffs and Willows varying in colour. What a shame it didn't burst into song. I'm pretty sure it was a Willow Warbler, however they will be here soon, so for the time being this one will be a Chiff/Will.

My first Peacock butterfly in the garden this year. In fact the first butterfly!!
An Andrena scotica, Mining Bee making its way to this........
..........leaf to warm itself up.
This very very small bee is I believe a Southern Bronze Furrow Bee
And two bees which don't look anything like the two species above. Probably not enough detail in either to get a 100% ID of what they are.

Sat on the pond weed a Migrant Hoverfly. There is one there honest.
A Common Green Shield Bug on the Valerian
I've been calling these Kentish Snails, but are they. I've seen posts on Social Media which might suggest that these are Wrinkled Snails. I will have to check.

And this is the last time you will see Ted's eyes covered. Late afternoon and after a bit of team work between me and Dawn I managed to scissor cut around his eyes. No easy task believe me.

Birds Recorded: 1 Kestrel, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Robin, 1 Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch

Butterflies Recorded: 1 Peacock

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Southern Bronze Furrow Bee (Halictus tumulorum) and Mining Bee (Andrena scotica)

Hoverflies Recorded: 1 Migrant Hoverfly (Meliscaeva auricollis)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina)

Slugs and Snails Recorded: Garden Snail (Cornu aspersa) and a possible Wrinkled Snail (Candidula intersecta)

Spiders Recorded: A Jumping Spider (Salticidae sp.)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

25 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:22
Wakeham Wood, Bottom Combe Railway Cutting, Perryfield Quarry Butterfly Reserve, Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Penn's Weare, The Cuttings, Bumpers Lane, Shepherd's Dinner, Broadcroft Quarry Lane and Lower Horse Paddock.
A nice walk today in the sun, though that easterly wind has still got a bit of a bite in it. Despite the extended walk there were surprisingly few highlights, with just 3 Chiffchaffs in the grounds of St Andrew's Church and 2 along Penn's Weare. Other than that there were no other Spring migrants seen or heard.

And there was no sign of any Large Tortoiseshells either and the only butterflies seen were 6 Peacocks on the Blackthorn halfway up the sooth facing slopes at the cove.

However with the sunnier and drier weather there were certainly more bees about and 2 new for year for me were a Hairy-footed Flower Bee and a Grey-patched Mining Bee.

And it looks like there might be a few Brown-tail Moth caterpillars about with around 6 "tents" close to Wakeham Wood. The caterpillars are pretty small at the moment and difficult to ID, but are most likely to be Brown-tails.

Here are a few images from today:

A Kestrel over Penn's Weare looking for its next meal.
Also along the Weares were a pair of Common Buzzards. As I was watching this individual, these two feral pigeons flew up from their nesting site at The Cuttings and made a bee-line for it. They made a couple of passes and realising that the Buzzard wasn't a danger headed back down to cliffs.

A male Linnet...........
...........singing along Bumpers Lane. It was then joined by this.........
............female. But didn't stay long.
And this is a Grey-patched Mining Bee (Andrena nitida), which I found in Bottom Combe Railway Cutting.
And also another new for year was this male Hairy-footed Flower Bee, which was on Comfrey in Penns Wood. An amazing bee that can actually hover, which it did more than once as I watched it. The females are all black. More on this bee Here.

I've yet to ID this bee!!
And I know I've said this umpteen times but............
............I just these Bloody-nosed Beetles.
They get their name from the fact that if they are "annoyed" they can secrete a red substance from the mouth.
A Common Green Shieldbug. Probably the commonest shieldbug I have come across on Portland.
Its early days yet and the caterpillars in this "tent" are very small. Give it a few more days and hopefully I will be able to identify them. My money is on Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars.

Rufus Castle
One of the two WWII Pill Boxes on the Weare.
And a couple of photos of Ted.........
........who is in desperate need of a trim.
And on my walk it was good to see others were taking the Government and NHS's guidelines with respect to keeping our distance from others. This was my one walk today and though there were others out, everyone was standing well back and allowing the other to pass by safely. The grey dog here with Ted is my neighbours and is called Charlie.
Birds Recorded: 2 Cormorant, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 5 Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch
Reptiles Recorded: Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)
Butterflies Recorded: 6 Peacock
Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) and Grey-patched Mining Bee (Andrena nitida)
Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax)
Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Muscid Fly (Phaonia subventa)
Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 1 Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) and 3 Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa)
Caterpillars Recorded: Possibly Brown-tail Moth
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.

2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

Lockdown Rulebook. Not.

Gavin Haigh - Tue, 24/03/2020 - 22:14
Mrs NQS and I haven't bothered with regular TV for about 35 years, so missed the PM's broadcast to the nation yesterday evening. Our son Baz sent a video clip and the transcript. As predicted, it's lockdown, if a somewhat soft version.

Like many, many others, my immediate concern was how it would affect me. Me. Because, regrettably, like many, many others, the first person I think of is me. Would I be able to work? Go birding? What did Boris say that might have a bearing on such matters?

Predictably, my interest focused in on this bit...

'That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
That’s all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home.'

NQS regulars may well know that I clean windows for a living these days. It has its pros and cons. Flexible 'lunchtimes' are handy for the birder in me of course, but rain is a killer. I simply cannot work in wet weather. After the most relentlessly wet autumn and winter I can recall since earning a crust in this fashion, I was so looking forward to this settled spell of dry stuff we're having right now. I actually want to go to work. I need to, if you get my drift. So, what guidance did Boris have for me?

Hmmm...what does 'only where this is absolutely necessary' mean? Travelling? Well, obviously I have to travel to jobs in order to work, so yes, it is 'absolutely necessary' to do so. Actually no, that is not what the sentence is saying. The grammatical object of everything after the comma is actually work, not travelling. Is window cleaning 'absolutely necessary'? Er...

Okay, so I'm not a key worker after all, but what about my birding? Decent seawatching is going to kick off soon, and the local coast will be jumping with migrants. Ah! Look at that! 'One form of exercise a day - for example a...walk...' Winner! I can walk and bird at the same time.

And then the icing on the cake. This guy...

Screen-grab from a BBC clip which appeared on Twitter this afternoon
Her: 'A question from Dave about exercise...'

Dave wants to know if his half-hour drive to the start point of his walk is okay, or must your exercise begin from home, ie, no driving. How does our...er...pundit respond to this?

Him: '...I think it's fine to drive and take exercise. There's no new regulations or new rules about that...and certainly there's no law that's going to stop you driving to take exercise.'


Cheers pal! Right, where are my car keys?

Perfect, eh? I can drive down to the coast, take my 'exercise' with bins and camera - steering well clear of all the others doing likewise of course - and upload my haul of goodies on social media later. My fellow birders will love that, won't they? Especially those stuck in some pokey little apartment in the middle of a city. Nothing better than a big fat dose of what you're missing out on.

Dave's question is an interesting one. It's the sort of question I would ask if I was looking for validation of an action I knew in my soul was a bit questionable. And that's exactly what matey on the TV gave him.

I'll be honest here. When the lockdown was announced, my initial thoughts revolved around what I might still be 'allowed' to do. That's because I'm basically a bit selfish and am keen to know what benefits me. One's instinct is to want rules. What can I do? What can't I do? Please draw the line for me...

But this is not about rules. It's about principles. And the underlying principle in this whole horrible mess is this:

Covid-19 is super-contagious and kills people.

And I'm perfectly aware that if I do everything in my power to be guided by that principle, then I hopefully won't even catch it. And if I have it already, keeping that priciple in mind all the time will ensure I am much more likely to keep it to myself.

And when we operate on principles (rather than rules) we don't need anyone else to draw the line for us. For example...

Shall I stay at home or go out?
Principle: Covid-19 is super-contagious and kills people.
So then, which action shows that I am being guided by that priciple? Staying at home or going out? Staying at home or driving for half an hour and then taking some essential exercise?

It ain't rocket science.

But that's me. I realise everyone's circumstances are not the same, nor their viewpoint come to that, and it certainly isn't for me to judge. But if the infection/death rate doesn't slow down pronto, I guess we can expect restrictions to become more draconian. And go on for longer.

So, basically, I am at home. Do pop in for a cuppa. Oh, wait a minute...

Anyway, today's birdy highlights were a Raven and a Meadow Pipit. Yesterday I had 3 Red Kites over, and was really expecting one or more today in the superb high-pressure conditions, but no. In the absence of Red Kites today then, have one of yesterday's, and a House Sparrow...

Not quite stratospheric, but pretty highNice to have a few of these chirpy little oiks on the estate.
More about the from-home birding, Lockdown List, #BWKM0 etc shortly...
Categories: Magazine

24 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Tue, 24/03/2020 - 17:29
Wakeham

This morning was my one and only time out today and the rest of the day was spent in the back garden mowing the lawn and sewing Marrow, Courgette and Sunflower seeds.

There was lots of wildlife about and quite a few birds noted, with the following birds seen Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

No butterflies about, but there were quite a few bee species in the garden with Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), 1 Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum). And hopefully I have ID'd these correctly 1 Southern Bronze Furrow Bee (Halictus tumulorum) and 5 Mining Bee (Andrena scotica)

A first for me on Portland was a Parasitic Wasp, Ichneumon stramentor, which landed very briefly on the garden wall.
Two Hoverflies seen a Common Dronefly and a Syrphus sp.

A Common Green Shieldbug was the only bug seen and was climbing along the garden shed.

Here are a few images from today:

Just a small section of the back garden, which was teaming with insects.
Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)
This very small Bumblebee on the Lavender is most likely a White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)
A very tiny Mining Bee which...............
............looks like one I have recorded in the garden before, a Southern Bronze Furrow Bee (Halictus tumulorum)
There were at least 5 of these Mining Bees.........
.............I believe they are Andrena scotica
This is an Ichneumon stramentor and a first for me on Portland. More on this parasitic wasp Here.
A Syrphus sp. hoverfly.
7-spot Ladybird
A Common Green Shieldbug
Easton

This morning as I was waited 40 minutes outside the local Chemist to pick up a prescription (only 2 people allowed inside at a time), I had plenty of time to do a bit of birdwatching.

One of the Evergreen Trees in Easton Gardens was a real magnet for the birds with Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a real surprise a Firecrest.

Overhead were the usual Herring Gulls and Feral Pigeons, plus a Sparrowhawk which was gliding about in a tight circle before swooping down and disappearing behind the local buildings.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

23 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Mon, 23/03/2020 - 18:08
Lower Horse Paddocks, Broadcroft Quarry Lane, Shepherd's Dinner, The Cuttings, Rufus Castle, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Church and Penns Wood.

My walk this afternoon was, in keeping with the Government Guidelines, making sure I kept my distance from other walkers. A necessary requirement in these sad times. Today I only saw a handful of people, a complete contrast to the 40+ yesterday that chose to visit Church Ope Cove. Hopefully the mass of visitors to the cove will cease, otherwise I will have to find another quieter walk.

So today I visited the Lower Horse Paddocks behind the cottage and immediately came across 5 Chiffchaffs feeding along the Bramble Bushes in the field.

Further on, as I crossed Broadcroft Quarry Lane, I came across singles of Redwing and Fieldfare. The former flying off and landing in the horse paddock, whilst the Fieldfare headed east.

Having left it a little late for my walk, there was very little else of note, other than 3 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest in Penns Wood.

Just a couple of Peacocks seen on the slopes at Church Ope Cove, but I left it bit late to see the Large Tortoiseshells which I heard had been seen earlier in the day.

Only only other bit of news was a mouse running across the path on the track down to the cove on the south facing slope.

Here are a few images from today:

In the Horse paddocks there were a few Chiffchaffs.........
..........feeding along the Brambles and on the ground.
A stunning looking Starling. Those colours are just amazing.
A Fieldfare at Broadcroft Quarry Lane. Hmm and moving on quickly.
Looking like something out of Jurassic Park, these Giant Viper's Bugloss in Shepherd's Dinner Quarry will flower this year.

A 7-spot Ladybird. The good news is I have seen several of these and only 1 Harlequin Ladybird. The latter am invasive species which is decimating our native Ladybirds.

Looking north along Penns Weare. In the background the coastline with Man O'war and Bat's Head just about visible.
And finally Scruff, sorry I mean Ted.
Rodent Recorded: Mouse

Birds Recorded: Cormorant, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 1 Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch

Butterflies Recorded: 2 Peacock

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax) and a few Syrphus sp.

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

Ships Today
This is the Cargo Ship "Jongleur" flying the flag of St Vincent Grenadines. It is on its way from Llanddulas (North Wales) to Cowes (Isle of Wight). More on this vessel Here.

This is the Vehicles Carrier "Victory Leader" flying the flag of the Bahamas. It is on its way from Limas (Turkey) to Bremerhaven (Denmark). More on this vessel Here.

And here is Victory Leader about to pass Jongleur
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

Thoughts For a Point in Time

Gavin Haigh - Mon, 23/03/2020 - 15:13
Yesterday I did a stupid thing.

Keen for an afternoon walk I headed for Burton Bradstock beach with the intention of a long, shingly trudge to West Bexington and back. Unfortunately I hadn't thought this through. Alarm bells began to sound the moment I saw how full the car park was. Foolishly I pressed on regardless and ventured onto the beach, giving everyone as wide a berth as possible. By the time I got to Cogden I was fed up with zig-zagging back and forth to avoid people, and about-turned...

Burton Bradstock Beach. Taken with my phone, and therefore a wide-angle shot, this photo grossly understates how busy it actually was. 
I'll be candid here. I don't want to catch Covid-19. Both my wife and I are 60+ and I am sure it would at the very least be extremely unpleasant, at worst terminal. Our eldest son Rob lives in Switzerland right now. He is 37, but at 18 months of age he underwent open-heart surgery to correct something called Fallot's Tetralogy, a congenital condition. If he caught Covid-19 he would almost certainly do very badly. He is keeping away from people as much as possible. Both Rob and I are optimistic by nature, never melodramatic about risk or danger, yet both of us are trying to be cautious and prudent when it comes to this poxy virus. To me it is simply a no-brainer.

But all around me I see people seemingly oblivious to it all...

I must admit it's got me thinking. In W Dorset it is actually quite easy to go birding without crossing paths with anyone. The other day I took a couple of scenic shots locally which illustrate this...

West Bexington from the coast road. West Bex Mere on the right, village and beach car park on the left. 
East Bexington, viewed from the Abbotsbury end. 
Both locations pretty quiet and off the beaten track, especially first thing in the morning. But, like almost anywhere else in the country, a very rare bird could suddenly make them rather too popular. I have already noticed some birders on Twitter stating that they are no longer going to be posting their bird sightings - presumably because they don't wish to encourage twitching - and their stance has made me consider my own position on this.

If a full lock-down is as imminent as it seems, this may be an academic issue anyway, but if I am fortunate enough to find a singing Sardinian Warbler, say, suppression is not my default position. It will be hard.

I realise this is the kind of post which is just begging for a comment loaded with well-meaning counsel and advice from folks with a different view to my own. If you feel the urge, please resist it. I am simply sharing the thoughts of an average middle-aged bloke in strange times which are evolving extremely rapidly. Tomorrow? The next day? Who knows what I'll think then?
Categories: Magazine

22 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Sun, 22/03/2020 - 17:33
Wakeham Wood, Bottom Combe Railway Cutting, Perryfields Quarry Butterfly Reserve, Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove and Church Ope Cove Wood

Well what an extraordinary afternoon with some great highlights starting off with a female Large Tortoiseshell in the Bottom Combe Railway Cutting Here.

Next was a Common Sandpiper which flew across the cove and disappeared around the cliff face at the north end of the beach. This was then followed by presumably the same Humming-bird Hawkmoth seen yesterday feeding on the same Blackthorn bushes Here..

Next highlight was a female and then a male Large Tortoiseshell flitting about between the back of the cove and the bottom of Penns Wood.

If that wasn't enough a Pipistrelle Bat put in an appearance at the bottom of Penns Wood and apparently just missed taking one of the Large Tortoiseshell butterflies in mid air, just before I arrived.

Other than that it was pretty quiet, with just the 1 Firecrest in Penns Wood and 3 Chiffchaff at the back of the cove.

Here are a few images and videos from today:

Bottom Combe Railway Cutting where........
..........on the path leading up to the fence in the background a female Large Tortoiseshell was basking in the sun until I spooked it. Sadly I didn't see where she flew off to.

On the banks of Cuttings were these..........
............Colt's-foot (Tussilago farfara) out in flower. Odd as I have never recorded them on my walks. So another new plant for my Portland List

Along the Cuttings there were several Yellow Dung Flies
The second Large Tortoiseshell I came across was on the south facing slopes at the cove. This is a male a female was close by.

There were a few Peacocks about as well.
This one is on a flowering Blackthorn
Back again for the second day the......
........Humming-bird Hawkmoth on the Blackthorn.
And the shortest video I have ever made. Blink and you will miss it. It's a shame I dont have the means to slow the video down.
In the grounds of St Andrew's Church a Comma. A second one was on the slopes at the cove.
If the sun is out the Wall Lizards will be as well.
And now for something different. This I was reliably informed is a Pipistrelle Bat flying about in Penns Wood. I wouldn't say it was a particular warm day, even though the sun was out, as there was a stiff easterly wind coming right off the sea and up and over the cove into Penns Wood. Yet this bat was busy catching flies and at times just inches away from our heads. Once it had appeared both the male and female Large Tortoiseshells took cover, with the male I heard having a lucky escape as the bat homed in on it. Here are a few images and a video.
















Mammals Recorded: 1 Pipistrelle Bat

Birds Recorded:1 Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Reptiles Recorded: Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Butterflies Recorded: 3 Large Tortoiseshell, 3 Peacock and 2 Comma

Moths Recorded: 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax), Tapered Dronefly (Eristalis pertinax), Migrant Hoverfly (Meliscaeva auricollis) and Syrphus sp.

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 1 Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa)

Ships Today
This is the Container Ship "Mol Tribute", flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. It is on its way from Rotterdam (Holland) to the Suez Canal (Egypt). More on this vessel Here.

This is the Korean Cargo Ship "Glovis Condor" on its way from Vigo (Spain) to Zeebrugge (Belgium) More on this vessel Here.

This is the American Container Ship "Maersk Iowa" on its way from Norfolk (USA) to Antwerp (Belgium). More on this vessel Here.

This is the British Sailing Vessel "Liquid Tomcat", on its way from Lymington to an unknown destination. More on this vessel Here.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

Context and Communication

Gavin Haigh - Sat, 21/03/2020 - 22:00
A tweet from this afternoon...


I realise there are coastal locations where a passing Eider is no big deal, but the bowels of Lyme Bay is not one of them. Context is everything! Including today I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've seen passing drakes on a seawatch here. Exactly five. The most memorable occasion (21st April, 2007) involved a superb flock of 22 Eider, containing 9 adult males. So the reason for the tweet was more than a virtual air-punch, it was also a heads-up to any Dorset birding Twitter followers who might be in the field that a decent local bird was passing through. However, there was an unexpected response...


The best thing about Richard's message was the fact that the very reason I was out seawatching at all this afternoon was because of his own earlier WhatsApp report of a dozen Manxies past Charmouth, and now I was able to offer a little pay-back by confirming the ID of a bird which had almost slipped through his fingers. Cue warm, fuzzy glow...

I also began the day with a seawatch. I had no expectations really, which was just as well, because the hour or so from 06:30 at East Bexington was not brilliant. It was also flippin' cold. Passing birds were 2 Common Scoter, 83 Common Gulls, 2 Med Gulls, c20 Gannets, a rather distant wader which in mid-April I would definitely have called a Whimbrel, and not much else that I bothered counting or remembering. On the sea were another Scoter and a Red-throated Diver. The East Bex highlights were 2 newly-arrived Wheatears, 2 or 3 phylloscs which were presumably Chiffs, and 3 Blackcaps...

So fresh the paint is barely dry...Cannot have too many Wheatears.Male Blackcap catching some rays.
There is often a frenetic urgency to new arrivals on the coast. Those Wheatears were off and away up the fields and inland within minutes of hitting the beach, and the Chiffs too were zipping around madly in the strong wind.

On the drive back I stopped in a lay-by above West Bex for a quick scan, and immediately spotted a Red Kite just below me. It drifted away westwards, and I texted the Bex regulars. They'd already seen it over the village a few minutes earlier. Great.

Next stop: West Bay. I wanted to check out the wet field where I saw the Blackwit and Redshanks on Thursday. Today there was a Dunlin. Nice. While there is still potential I shall keep trying. Strolling back to the car I noticed a bit of gull panic going on and had a scan. Nothing. I walked on. Suddenly a Red Kite sailed over...

Not a great pic. I was a bit slow with the camera and botched my chance...
Naturally I assumed this was the Bex bird from earlier, and watched it continue westwards...and become two!

Such striking birds, and a real joy to watch.
Conscious that these beauties might hug the coast and therefore become available to my birding buddies further west, I sent both a tweet and a message on the Patch WhatsApp group. Much to my delight, these or others were seen by at least four or five birders between West Bay and Seaton. Once again, communication proves its worth.

And context? Well, a couple of weeks back I had to visit Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire. The place is crawling with Red Kites! I spent half my time there peering at the sky. At one point a flock of 15, plus a Buzzard, were circling above a small cluster of houses! I suppose you get used to Red Kites at roof-top level eventually, but for a birder who's lived in the southwest for 17 years it was simply amazing. Which is why news of  the West Bay birds was broadcast, and why its recipients kept an eager eye out. Down here, Red Kite is still a nice prize.

Which takes me back to the beginning, where Richard's WhatsApp message had got me out hoping to see my first Manxies of the year. In the end I didn't. But I did see bird-of-the-day drake Eider, plus 13 Common Scoters, 3 Shovelers, 2 definite Grey Plovers and 3 rather distant probables.

Today I was pretty jammy, bumping into the Red Kites like that, but I was able to share my jam with others. And because Richard generously alerted us all to a small afternoon movement of Manx Shearwaters, I also jammed a cracking drake Eider! Grey Plover is quite a decent local bird too.

Context.

Communication.

Two factors with which to enhance your solo, socially-distanced birding exploits...
Categories: Magazine

21 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Sat, 21/03/2020 - 15:45
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood, Penn's Weare and Penn's Copse.
Well if I thought yesterday's ENE wind was strong, it paled into insignificance today as the wind moved around to the E, with gusts over 30 mph hitting the cove. The sea was really churned up, creating masses of foam, which periodically was blown up the beach. At least the sun was out.

Two great highlights today starting off with a male Large Tortoiseshell in the flowering Blackthorn (by the sign for St Andrew's Church below Rufus Castle) and then a real surprise with a Humming-bird Hawkmoth at the same location Here, which was feeding so close to me I couldn't photograph or video it.

Other butterflies noted were 3 Peacocks and a Brimstone all on the south facing slopes at the cove.

Also about were 2 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff in Penns Wood and 3 more Chiffchaffs along the slopes at the back of the cove.

Other wildlife noted were 6 Wall Lizards, several Buff-tailed Bumblebees and a few Early Bumblebees. Also seen was a Common Wasp, a pair of Bloody-nosed Beetles mating and a small black spider.

Here are a few images and videos from today:

This is the first time I have seen any of the Large Tortoiseshell Butterflies feeding. This is on a flowering Blackthorn
It eventually flew off and I found it again by the south facing huts Here.
Despite the wind I just about managed to hold the camera still to video the Large Tortoiseshell
Also about were 3 Peacock Butterflies and a Brimstone.
Not many Chiffchaffs about today. This one was moving down through the Japanese Spindle in Penns Wood.
On the beach were 4 Rock Pipits braving the elements. No Kelp Flies seen today.
Where there was shelter a few hardy Wall Lizards were out basking.
A Common Dronefly on an Alexanders.
And a different species of Andrena bee. One to investigate further.
The same Common Green Shieldbug that I have seen on the Comfrey leaf in Penns Wood for the past few day. It is alive!!
A very fast small dark spider I came across by the huts. One to ID.
And finally the waves crashing onto the beach.
The sea is so churned up it has created "Sea Foam"
And a view of the beach from St Andrew's Church
Birds Recorded: 1 Kestrel, 30+ Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 4 Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Reptiles Recorded: Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Butterflies Recorded: 1 Large Tortoiseshell, 3 Peacock and 1 Brimstone

Moths Recorded: 1 Humming-bird Hawkmoth

Bees Recorded: Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Wasps Recorded: 1 Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax) and Tapered Dronefly (Eristalis pertinax)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 2 Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa)

Spiders Recorded: Spider sp.

Ships Today
This is the Cargo Ship "Hav Pike" flying the flag of Antigua Barbuda. It is on its way from Waterford (Ireland) to Rotterdam (Holland). More on this vessel Here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

20 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Fri, 20/03/2020 - 14:46
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood, Penn's Weare and Penn's Copse
A very chilly day, especially with a fairly strong ENE wind blowing straight in off the sea and up through the cove to the wood.

Not so many Chiffchaffs today with just 1 in Penns Wood, 1 in the church grounds and 8 on the slopes at Church Ope Cove.

A male Blackcap was in Penns Copse very briefly, hence the naff photo and there were singles of Firecrest and Goldcrest in both Penns wood and at the back of the cove.

No butterflies to day, to cold and the only other invertebrates I came across were 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebees and a new species of bee for me on Portland and in fact the UK, a Trimmer's Mining Bee, Andrena trimmerana.

Best highlight today though was watching a pair of Long-tailed Tits building a nest at Church Ope Cove.

Here are a few images and a video from today:

Church Ope Cove where in this area alone there were Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Long-tailed Tits. Sadly no butterflies today.

One of the 8 Chiffchaffs along the slopes today.
The Blackthorn seems to be the "food plant" today. Yesterday it was the Alexanders, but apart from one Andrena bee there were no other insects on them today.

A male Blackcap. And quickly moving on........
.........I came across a pair of Long-tailed Tits..........
..........building this nest.
In fact this is only the second Long-tailed Tit nest I have ever come across.
The work that has gone into making this nest is absolutely amazing. Here is a photo of one I found on google Here.
Well I wasn't expecting this bee to be identifiable, but I have been reliably informed that this is a Trimmer's Mining Bee, Andrena trimmerana. And a new one for me on Portland and in fact the UK.
Ted, or should we be changing his name to Scruff.
Birds Recorded: Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Bees Recorded: Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and a Trimmer's Mining Bee (Andrena trimmerana)

Ships Today
This is the Cypriot Research Vessel "Eagle Explorer" on its way from Torangsvag (Norway) to Portland. More on this vessel Here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

West Bay

Gavin Haigh - Thu, 19/03/2020 - 22:58
In the past I've said disparaging things about West Bay, and could never see myself doing much birding there. However, my view has changed a bit. In the few years we've lived nearby I've come to see the place with a less snobbish eye, and even the tackier aspects have somehow endeared themselves. Recently I've made an effort to investigate the birding potential too. Snagging a few Black Redstarts last autumn certainly did no harm, and this year I've been trying to suss the various habitats. This afternoon I had another go...

Because West Bay is a small harbour village rather than a remote beach, there are people. Sometimes lots of them. Strolling along it was evident that nobody else was toting bins and a camera, and I could tell from the earnest faces and solemn tones that people's thoughts and conversations were largely focused on expanding their currently woeful stock of bog rolls, and suchlike. Hand sanitiser was far from my mind (in my left coat pocket in fact) as I mooched about, initially seeing not much. Mind you, to be fair I had already seen a nice bird before I'd even got among the local populace at all. The other day I spied this wet area out in the middle of the valley, and thought it looked good for a Little Ringed Plover perhaps. The first thing I did this afternoon was scope it from afar. No LRPs, but there was a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Redshanks. Smart. Later on I was able to get a bit closer and take photos, and courtesy of Twitter (and Mark Golley) I learned that it was a moulting islandica Blackwit...

I've no idea how scarce or otherwise is a Blackwit in West Bay, but I certainly enjoyed it.
With the chilly wind coming from a northerly quarter I recalled that 4 Black Redstarts had found the shelter of the West Cliffs to their liking in similar conditions last year, and went for a look. Seven Wheatears! Very nice. I spent ages with them, viewing from below initially, and then discovering that you can get alongside them via the cliff path. Some popped up on to the clifftop above too. Wheatears are such good value...

Viewed from below......and from the side...
This shot isn't pin-sharp, but I like the 'ghost' shadow Wheatear in the background....and even from above.On the clifftop
Finally I worked my way back down into the valley and out onto the wet fields beside the river. Initially there was nothing much to see, and then out of nowhere a Wheatear flew past me. A quick scan revealed five, presumably new arrivals. They were dead flighty, and seemed intent on moving quickly through, but then three alighted together on the bank of the river, and I got my favourite two photos of the day...

Pausing briefly...Sleek and flighty. This lovely Wheatear might be stationary, but clearly is not going to be hanging around.
So, 12 fabulous Wheatears and a smart Blackwit. Well chuffed. If you read this through with a heart full of unbounded joy and barely a thought of deadly viruses, then I am pleased. That's what NQS is for.
Categories: Magazine

19 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Thu, 19/03/2020 - 15:39
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood, Penns Weare, Penns Copse, Rufus Castle and Mermaid Track

A cloudy day and slightly milder than of late. Still quite a few Chiffchaffs about, I even had 3 in the back garden with one singing early on in the morning.

In Penns Wood and St Andrew's Church there were 8 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest and a Blackcap singing (sub-song).

On the east and south facing slopes around Church Ope Cove there were around 12 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, a Firecrest and another male Blackcap.

Other highlights, despite the fact there was no sun, were both a male and a female Large Tortoiseshell and a Peacock all flying around the south facing huts at the cove. The female Large Tortoiseshell didn't stop and disappeared over the slope into Penn's Weare, the male landed once and the Peacock flew into the Hebe and disappeared under the leaves.

Here are a few images from today
:
These slopes at Church Ope Cove were busy again today, with around 12 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and 2 species of butterfly - 2 Large Tortoiseshell and a Peacock

A few Chiffchaff shots.




Last Chiffchaff shot
One of the many Chiffchaffs at the back of the cove. This one busy feeding in amongst the flowering Blackthorn.
Not a Chiffchaff but a Goldcrest
And a male Large Tortoiseshell. The female unfortunately didn't hang about for a photo. 
I watched this Peacock butterfly flitting around and then it disappeared into the Hebe and rested up.
The same Common Green Shieldbug I found in Penns wood a few days ago on a Comfrey Leaf. Its moved about 6 inches.

A Ted shot without the jacket. Well at least until it rains again. Hopefully not for awhile!!
Birds Recorded: Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 2 Blackcap, 20+ Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Butterflies Recorded: a male and female Large Tortoiseshell and a Peacock

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax)

Ships Today
This is the Vehicles Carrier "Glovis Champion" flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. It is on its way from Antwerp (Belgium) to Dakar (Senegal). More on this vessel Here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

And Still They Come...

Gavin Haigh - Wed, 18/03/2020 - 22:10
March 2020 is theoretically my 61st opportunity to score an early spring Wheatear. Back in March 1960 (my first as an air-breathing creature) I was barely weaned, and not really in a position to enter the fray, but I'm sure there were still plenty of birders carefully scouring the West Dorset coast for their first Wheatear of the year. No doubt some are still active today. Perhaps one or two were out this afternoon, like me, as keen as ever for a glimpse of that handsome harbinger of spring.

I honestly could not tell you how many times I've eagerly anticipated my first Wheatear, but even allowing for the years of pre-birding, non-birding and phase, it is lots. I mention this for a reason. Because it is very easy to take such a simple little once-a-year ritual for granted, and yet many things I have taken for granted all my life are being turned on their head right now...

It is tempting to follow this line of thought down the dismal path it inevitably leads, but I'm not going to. I have just spent a weekend in the company of my granddaughter, who is slightly more than 60 years my junior, and such a rude reminder of my own mortality always makes me a bit introspective. However, I refuse to give in to it. What's the point? All that does is suck the joy from the frankly amazing spectacle of your first Wheatear of the year hitting the beach, and who wants to do that?

Just a Wheatear? Not really...
I finished work early today and went to East Bexington. It strikes me as a pretty Wheatear-friendly place, and it was a Wheatear I wanted. I know all about the other early spring possibilities, like Sand Martin, Swallow, White Wagtail and so on... but only Wheatears actually count. For me, none of the others really hits the spot. There is a magic little buzz about that first Wheatear which nothing else can produce...

13:46 on 18th March, 2020. First Wheatear photo of the year.
I ended up with a total of four birds; three together and a singleton. Very little else of note, but who cares? Naturally there were Stonechats, and as ever I could not resist pointing the camera at them, despite the gloomy, overcast weather...



The lone Wheatear was an absolutely pristine male, feeding at some distance in a field of sparse stubble...

Spring perfection.
So, while the world teeters on the edge of something quite unprecedented in all our lifetimes, NQS will continue to bring little nuggets of joyous, upbeat positivity.

While it still can...

Anyway, I'll close with this bunch of ruthlessly abused pixels, depicting two humans of approximately 60 years and two months difference in age. I like to think the older one still has a few first-Wheatears-of-the-year in him yet...


Categories: Magazine

18 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Wed, 18/03/2020 - 12:52
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove and Church Ope Cove Wood

Well that was pretty impressive with at least 50 Chiffchaffs between Penns Wood and the south facing slopes at the cove. In the wood there were around 12, St Andrew's Church there was a good 15, the woods and east facing slope at the back of the cove there were at least 15 and on the south facing slopes I counted 6.

It wasn't just the Chiffchaffs I came across but also a male Blackcap at the back of the cove, a Goldcrest in the church grounds and 3 along the east facing slopes. The "usual" 3 Firecrests are still about with the 2 in Penns Wood and the other at the back of the cove.

Other birds of interest was a Goldfinch collecting nesting material, and I was really fortunate that I also managed to see where they are nesting this year, and as I was watching the Chiffchaffs in the church grounds a Sparrowhawk came screaming in, but failed to garb anything.

On the return leg to St Andrew's Church and Penns wood all the Chiffchaffs bar 6 had all moved north. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Here are a few images from today:

At the back and sourh facing slope at the cove there were a good 20+ Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and 3 Goldcrests.
St Andrew's Church and a good 15 or so Chiffchaffs Here.
A few singing.

And feeding on ants!!


Also about a couple of Firecrests
And the second bird at Penns wood.
Chiffchaffs feeding in amongst the Alexanders.






Mammals Recorded: Grey Squirrel

Birds Recorded: 1 Sparrowhawk, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 50 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 3 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) and Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Kelp Fly (Coelopa frigida) and Muscid Fly (Phaonia subventa)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 1 Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina)

NoteIt's amazing to think that on this day in 2018 it was snowing.
My Wakeham back garden on 18 Mar 18
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

17 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Tue, 17/03/2020 - 19:53
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood, Penn's Weare, The Cuttings and Rufus Castle
A much cloudier day than yesterday and a lot cooler as well. The sun did come out briefly mid-afternoon, and then it was back with the cloud cover. The difference wasn't just the weather, but I didn't see a single butterfly or migratory bird, other than a solitary Chiffchaff in Penns Wood.

Other birds noted were 2 Firecrests in Penns Wood and another at the back of the cove, and a few Rock Pipits feeding on the slopes along Penn's Weare.

At least when the sun was out there were a few bees, hoverflies and flies, plus 3 Bloody-nosed Beetles, 2 Common Green Shieldbugs and a Harlequin Ladybird. The latter two species both in Penns Wood.

Here are a few images and videos from today:

This Blue Tit was busy preening in Penns Wood. Very meticulous.
This Rock Pipit was.............
...........busy feeding on the slopes on Penn's Weare.
These Wall Lizards don't need any prompting to get out into sun, once it appears
Those claws are definitely designed for scaling walls.
Quite a few Buff-tailed Bumblebees out today. This one was warming up on a tree trunk.
This one was resting on a Japanese Spindle
Mining Bee - Andrena scotica
And possibly an Early Mining Bee - Andrena haemorrhoa
A Common Green Shieldbug
And another with a slight colour difference.
A Bloody-nosed Beetle.................

...................one of three seen today along Penn's Weare
Rufus Castle. Apparently it has 5 sides, which is pretty unusual for a castle.
No rain coat for Ted today just his woolly jacket.
Birds Recorded: Fulmar, 1 Shag, 1 Sparrowhawk, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Reptiles Recorded: 4 Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Early Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa), Mining Bee (Andrena scotica) and a Nomad bee sp.

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) and Syrphus sp.

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Kelp Fly (Coelopa frigida) and Muscid Fly (Phaonia subventa)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 1 Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis, form - succinea), 2 Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) and 3 Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa)

Ships Today
This is British Aircraft Carrier "Prince of Wales" carrying out manoeuvres in Weymouth Bay. More on this vessel Here.
And it wasn't alone, with it were these British Warships mid-afternoon.:
HMS Kent (F78) Here
HMS Mersey (P283) Here
HMS Sutherland (F81) Here
HMS Montrose (D36) Here
HMS Ramsey (M110) Here
Unknown British Warship. Here
This is the British Tug "Kingston" on its way out of Portland to an unknown destination. It is towing...............
..........this vessel which unfortunately isn't showing up on Marine Traffic.
I did try to enlarge the image but still difficult to see what the tug is towing.  More on the Tug Here.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........
2019Today's Sightings Here.

2018Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

Wheatear Invasion. Apparently.

Gavin Haigh - Mon, 16/03/2020 - 22:26
A close inspection of the NQS Bird-o-meter reveals a sorry tale. Recent readings have been low. Depressingly low. There are reasons. Like the relentless march of one Atlantic weather system after another. Strewth! Surely the most tedious winter conditions ever? Another reason is my current inability to turn up anything decent. Take gulls, for example. My go-to taxa for regular doses of winter-time birdy buzz. But what's going on? The odd Med Gull here and there is all I can manage right now. Where are the Casps? The white-wingers? The Ross's and Laughing Gulls? Elsewhere is where.

I will confess to lower effort levels of late too. I think my enthusiasm must be a bit needy. If it isn't regularly nourished with good birds, the occasional nice find, a little tristis-type challenge, and so on...well, it shrivels up a bit. And recently it's not been getting much at all. Until today...

Today the Wheatears came. Wave upon wave of them, streaming across the Channel. Throughout the working day my Twitter feed was clogged with reports of the invasion, and mouth-watering photos of the little beauties. I couldn't wait till knocking-off time...

Rather than head for a location already covered by other birders I thought it would be a bit more enterprising to find my own Wheatear somewhere. West Bay seemed like a good shout, with maybe a quick look up on the golf course too. I had about an hour or so, from 5:15pm. Result: nil Wheatears. Absolute poxness.

NQS will be go down in history as the only S coast [mainly] birding blog which didn't feature a Wheatear on 16th March, 2020. Poor bloke. What a loser! Oh, wait a minute though... Wasn't it also the only S coast [mainly] birding blog which did feature two Red Kites together over Bridport at 13:54 on 16th March, 2020? That day when everyone else was being distracted by stupid Wheatears everywhere? Yes, I think so. Jammy beggar...

Admittedly this is just one Red Kite, but the pics with two in the frame are a bit blurry. Just trust me.
Interestingly these birds were high enough that they didn't set the local gulls off. I simply happened to be scanning the sky at the right moment. Yep, jammy.

Oh, okay then...

Full frame off the camera. Both birds. Just.
Categories: Magazine

16 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Mon, 16/03/2020 - 19:06
Wakeham Railway Cuttings, Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood and Penn's Weare

Wow what a beautiful warm sunny day, that saw at least 12 Lepidopterists at the cove looking for the Large Tortoiseshells. I arrived around midday and the first butterfly I saw was a female Large Tortoiseshell heading up into the cove wood and then shortly after I spotted a male heading down the path towards the stream.

Apparently I was the only one to see them initially, but not long after other Large Tortoiseshells started to appear and for those that had travelled miles to see them, there was great delight in the fact they got to see them as well.

It looks as if there could be at least 4 of which there are definitely 2 males and a female, plus a very tatty one which my friend Andy saw 3 days ago Here.

Also at the cove I had at least 3 Brimstone (2 male 1 female), 4 Peacock and a Small White. The latter my first for the year.

On the bird front there was a Firecrest and Chiffchaff in Penns Wood, a Firecrest and Chiffchaff in the cove wood and another Chiffchaff in Penns Weare. Along Penn's Weare I had 9 Wheatear and a male Black Redstart.

Also recorded today was a Celery Fly, a Common Wasp and a Nomad bee sp. all of which were on the Japonica in Penns Wood, where incidentally on my return leg a Large Tortoiseshell was flitting about at the bottom of the wood and in the church grounds. Sadly it didn't stop for a photo.

Here are a few images from today:

The grounds of St Andrew's Church where a couple of Large Tortoiseshells showed up today.
In the church grounds more Wall Lizards basking in the sun.
I have no idea what the liquid is on the back of this Wall Lizard, let alone the red "bug" which is a fair size!!!
Looking up the east coast of Penn's Weare and there were at least 9 Wheatears making their way north.
They all appeared to be males, though I did eventually find a female, which was camera shy.
Another male
And another.
Last one. Well not quite here are a few short videos.



I had a shock when I first saw this next to the Wheatears. It flew off from the rock behind very quickly and I immediately thought I had Black Wheatear. My heart missed a beat.

It is of course a male Black Redstart. 
A Tree Bumblebee
And a Common Wasp
Church Ope Cove from Penn's Weare 
And Rufus Castle with the archway on the right where the path takes you up to Portland Museum.
And Ted doing a bit of mountaineering.
Birds RecordedFulmarCormorant, 4 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 9 Wheatear, Blackbird, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Reptiles Recorded: Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Butterflies Recorded: 2 Large Tortoiseshell, 4 Peacock, 3 Brimstone and 1 Small White

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) and a Nomad Bee sp.

Wasps Recorded: 1 Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax), Tapered Dronefly (Eristalis pertinax) and 3 Syrphus sp.

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Kelp Fly (Coelopa frigida), Muscid Fly (Phaonia subventa) and a Celery fly (Euleia heraclei)

Ships Today

This is the British Aircraft Carrier "Prince of Wales" .............
.....................carrying out manoeuvres in Weymouth.
More on this vessel Here.

This is the Vehicles Carrier "Victorious Ace" flying the flag of Panama. It is on its way from Vigo (Spain) to Zeebrugge (Belgium). More on this vessel Here.

This is the American Container Ship "Safmarine Mafadi" on its way from...........
........... Bremerhaven (Denmark) to an unknown destination. More on this vessel Here.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

15 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Sun, 15/03/2020 - 17:46
Portland Bird Observatory, Crown Estate Fields, Top Field, Southwell Barns, Sweethill, South-west Coast Path (south) and Culverwell.

My mission today was walk the above route in the hope of finding a Wheatear. I succeeded with 3 in the horse field just east of Culverwell Here.

My walk actually started off well with 4 Stonechat in the Crown Estate Fields, followed by 12 Chiffchaff in and around the waste hay/straw patch by the barns Here.

From the Barns I crossed over Sweet Hill and down to the coast path where I headed south. Along this stretch I had no less than 14 Stonechat, all moving up the island, with at least 4 males singing.

I had planned to walk down to the Bill, but upon finding the 3 male Wheatear I opted to walk back up to the main road for a better view of them.

Here are a few images and a video from today:

The Barns where this waste tip of straw and hay attracted around 12 Chiffchaffs.
One of the Chiffs searching for flies in amongst the straw.
And a bit of competition from the resident birds.
I don't think I've ever seen so many Stonechats as I did today with 18 recorded. This is a male one of a few which was singing.

For a split second I thought I had got myself a Ring Ouzel. No such luck, it's just a Blackbird and a twig 
One of the 3 Wheatears.
And number 2.
And further away number 3.
A very short video of one of the Wheatears.
These Kentish Snails were pretty widespread along the tracks I was walking.  
Danish Scurvygrass, Cochlearia danica
That frown, because he knows he's having a bath when he gets back.
Birds Recorded: Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, 15+ Pheasant, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 10+ Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, 18 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, Blackbird, 12 Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria)

Slugs and Snails Recorded: Kentish Snail (Monacha cantiana)

Ships Today
This is the Cargo Ship "Felix" flying the flag of Antigua Barbuda. It is on its way from St Petersburg (Russia) to Plymouth. More on this vessel Here.

This is the Tanker "Anuket Ruby" flying the flag of Panama. It is on its way from Dordrecht (Holland) to Plymouth. More on this vessel Here.
This is the British Aircraft Carrier "Prince of Wales" in Weymouth Bay as seen from Sweet Hill.
More on this vessel Here.
One last shot.
Wakeham

This morning 3 Chiffchaffs in the back garden with one singing.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
Categories: Magazine

North Wales, Anglesey & Holy Island

Two Owls Birding - Sun, 15/03/2020 - 15:55
Hi everyone,
Jackie and I ventured off to North Wales, we had booked to stay at a Warners hotel at Bodelwyddan Castle as it was convenient to be able to visit Jackie's Aunt who lives in Llandudno and good access to a few birding sites and the coast.  I have to say the service we had and the food was excellent and the lodge we stayed in was comfortable and all one needed for a holiday I should say it is an adults only hotel.
We arrived late afternoon on the Monday so our first day for birding was Tuesday and we decided that a trip to Holy Island and South Stack would get us, with a little luck, Black Guillemot and Chough and perhaps a Rose-coloured Starling which seems to have taken up residence in a small village.
We headed off to Holyhead harbour it's a good location for Black Guillemot and other sea birds.  When we arrived we managed with a little luck to find a small parking area that overlooked the harbour and almost immediately I saw a Black Guillemot diving and feeding in the harbour.  I grabbed the camera and went to the edge of the shore in the hope it would come close enough to get a decent shot but didn't really have any luck, as you can see it is in summer plumage.Black Guillemot - Holyhead Harbour © Nick HullFrom here it was on to South Stack our target here was to have lunch at the RSPB centre and to see Chough.  Well, the seeing of Chough went ok we saw nine flying over The Range which headed off out of sight.  The lunch didn't happen at the centre as it appears the RSPB are having it refurbished and had the builders in, we presume it will be completed for the breeding season.Chough flying over South Stack Holy Island WalesSo we snacked and had a cuppa hoping the Chough would reappear but no such luck and the wind was increasing. Our next location was the small village of Llanfaethu as a first winter Rose-coloured Starling or as some now call them Rosy Starling had taken up residence with the local Starlings.  Instructions on the bird news said the bird could be found on the feeders in the garden behind the post box.  We parked up just a few metres down the road from the post box and walked back up the road.  We hadn't gone twenty metres and I could see the bird perched in a tree preening. It gave great close views and enable me to get some ok photographs.Rose-coloured Starling - Llanfaethu, Anglesey WalesIt was a pretty scruffy individual and was obviously starting it's moult and it just shows if you see a pale bird in a winter flock of Starling take a closer look it's probably a Rose-coloured Starling.
On Wednesday we visited Jackie's aunt it was extremely windy day we had a drive up to the cafe on the Great Orme and saw one or two Fulmar which had returned to the cliffs to get ready for the new breeding season.  Unfortunately due to a cliff fall we couldn't travel all the way around so headed back to Jackie's aunts apartment for tea & coffee.  Whilst there I noticed a flight of Chough four birds which flew along the cliff top of the Great Orme and on around out of sight.
Thursday was going to be our last full day and we wanted to see if we could see Black Grouse so we had breakfast as early as we could and headed out to the World's End an area of grouse moor where we have been successful in the past.  We had a little difficulty finding the right area but once we had found the correct road we drove up onto the moor and slowly worked our way across the top.  Around halfway across I spotted something at the edge of the heather and juncus, stopping and getting the bins onto it, it revealed itself as a Red Grouse.
Head of the Red Grouse © Nick HullOver the next thirty minutes or so we had several calling and managed to locate around six individuals scattered over the moor.
Red Grouse returning out into the open © Nick HullShortly after we saw a Black Grouse fly across and then land disappearing into long heather, a little  while after another flew across and kept going.  We moved down the road and I had a look over a rise and as I did Jackie saw another Black Grouse fly towards us, I was looking in the wrong direction. Jackie was shouting at me but the wind was taking her voice away, oddly I panned back to the left and caught sight of a Black Grouse just landing in the heather some 150m away Jackie's bird. I saw another distant bird but Jackie came away with the best view of us both.
Black Grouse - Archive photographWe left happy with what we had seen and lunch at the Rhug Estate Organic Farm, Shop & Cafe which was very nice and well worth a visit if your ever passing.  After lunch we headed to Conwy RSPB reserve, here we managed to dodge the rain but not the wind but we managed to get around three of the reserves hides and saw many of the resident species, the highlight here was a pair of Goosander that flew in whilst we were there and gave us some pretty good views.
pair Goosander - Conwy RSPB © Nick HullThe Goosander were a very nice end to our week in North Wales and it will be nice to return in the late spring to be able to catch up with some of the areas breeding species.

Categories: Magazine

14 Mar 20

Martin Adlam - Sat, 14/03/2020 - 19:56
Wakeham Railway Cuttings, Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove, Church Ope Cove Wood, Penns Weare and Penns Copse.

What started off as another sunny day, ended again in cloud cover. I just missed seeing a couple of Large Tortoiseshells at the cove by about 10 minutes, but at least its good to know that they are still about. My good friend Andy had a very tatty one yesterday, which at first glance you would have passed off for a large Comma. It was well worn.

So today's highlights was pretty good actually with 3 Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest and a Goldcrest in Penns Wood, with one of the Chiffs singing. At the back of the cove was another Firecrest and a single Chiffchaff.

Despite not seeing any of the Large Tortoiseshells I did at least have a couple of Peacocks. And had I got there earlier I would have had a couple of Brimstone's as well, according to the lepidopterists who were already on the beach when I arrived.

Also about were a good dozen or so Wall Lizards in the church grounds, along with Common Droneflies which are now outnumbering the Tapered Droneflies, a few Syrphus hoverflies, a Migrant Hoverfly and an Exephanes ischioxanthus Ichneumon Wasp.

Also found was a 7-Spot Ladybird, maybe one of the two I saw mating a few days ago. And my first wasp of the year a Queen Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)
Here are a few images and a couple of videos from today:
This Robin was certainly belting it out in Penns Wood
Church Ope Cove where these ................
............lepidopterists were looking for the Large Tortoiseshells. They had more success than me today........
...........though I did get a Peacock.
An Andrena sp.
And another Andrena sp.
And one more Andrena sp.
A Buff-tailed Bumblebee
My first wasp of the year a Queen Common Wasp
And she was busy feeding on this Alexanders.
And an Exephanes ischioxanthus Ichneumon Wasp
Another view.
7-Spot Ladybird
Wall Lizards
Wall Lizard
Wall Lizard
Birds Recorded: Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch

Reptiles Recorded: 12+ Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

Butterflies Recorded: 2 Peacock

Bees Recorded: Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Wasps Recorded: A Queen Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

Ichneumon Wasps Recorded Exephanes ischioxanthus

Hoverflies Recorded: Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax), Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax), 1 Migrant Hoverfly (Meliscaeva auricollis) and a Syrphus sp.

Flies, Gnats and Midges Recorded: Kelp Fly (Coelopa frigida) and Muscid Fly (Phaonia subventa)

Bugs and Beetles Recorded: 7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

Slugs and Snails Recorded: Garden Snail (Cornu aspersa) and Kentish Snail (Monacha cantiana)
Ships Today
This is the Freya May
As they brought in their nets there were one or two which look like Pollack.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2019
Today's Sightings Here.
2018
Today's Sightings Here.
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