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10 Nov 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 11/10/2018 - 19:59
Out and About

I certainly know when to choose my walks, and not for the first time I left the cottage in the sun and by the time I'd reached the beach at Church Ope Cove there was thunder and lightening and torrential hail and rain. Was it worth it, of course it was, as I managed to see the Black Redstart and around 7 Rock Pipits on the beach before the heavens opened.

Earlier I was in Penns Wood, where I met up with a chap called Franco. We came across a few Goldcrests but nothing else, so I headed down to Church Ope Cove. Franco on the other hand, on seeing the black clouds approaching, decided to go back to the car park. Turns out he made the right decision, as after the rain had stopped he found a Pallas's Warbler in the Railway Cutting just south of Glen Caravan Park.

Me I got soaked and when I got home it was a quick change and then into Weymouth shopping. As I was close to Radipole Lake I decided to have a quick look for the Ring-necked Duck and Scaup. It was only when I was there that I was told by another birder that there was a Pallas's Warbler opposite my house in Wakeham, which was seen there an hour ago and yep by Franco. As I blanked on the ducks I headed back home.

The car was unloaded and instead of heading down to the old railway cutting, I crossed the road opposite the cottage and decided to walk through the horse paddock area first. I'm glad I did as the first bird I encountered was a Firecrest. A good start.

As I walked further into the paddock I could see two groups of birders in the woods. As I approached, someone shouted Pallas's and sure enough there it was, with another Pallas's next to it. However the second bird turned out to be one of two Yellow-browed Warblers, which had joined the large flock of 20+ Goldcrests.

The whole flock was very mobile and I decided to leave the birders and head back to the paddock, where very fortunately the Pallas's Warbler turned up. Having taken a couple of photos I let the others know and sure enough we all managed reasonable views of the Pallas's and at least one of the two Yellow-browed Warblers and the Firecrest. Also here was a Chiffchaff.

After awhile the flock moved south and were last seen preparing themselves for roost just north of the Church Ope Car Park. Hopefully they will all be around for others to see tomorrow.

Here are a few photos from today:

Five Greenfinches on the feeders in the back garden this morning.
In fact there were actually six in the end.
The tide line at Church Ope Cove.
It must have been some storm last night to come over the shingle bank.
A few Rock Pipits on the beach, just the 7 from the 14 yesterday.
The Black Redstart braved the storm......
.......and seemed undeterred by the torrential rain falling.
The storm broke away a few crab pots. In fact.........
........four in total.
Two here and I did a quick check to see if there were any inhabitants. Alas not.
Lots of Cuttlefish bones washed up.
Across the road from the Cottage and this is where I and several other birders had brief.......
........but lovely views of the Pallas's Warbler.
Here are a few of the birders here with more on the other side of the tree in the centre.
And this is what we came to see, a Pallas's Warbler.
A very striking yellow and black eye stripe, despite hidden behind the branch.
A better view.
And a marginally better one. It's interesting to note that the one and only Pallas's seen last Autumn (by yours truly) was only a week later on 18 Nov 19.

Birds Recorded today: 1 Cormorant, 2 Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, 7 Rock Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Pallas's Warbler, 1 possibly 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 20+ Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2017
Today's Sightings Here
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1 May 18 - West African Pelagic - At Sea Around Cape Verde

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sat, 11/10/2018 - 17:00
The first day at sea on the West African Pelagic had got off to a good start for many, although clearly a number of the joining passengers were suffering from the movement of the Plancius due to the strong winds & choppy seas. We had been lucky enough to see one or more Razo Larks from the zodiacs which was great news. While we were stationery off Razo Island, we had a steady movement of Cape Verde Shearwaters, as well as, a few Brown Boobies & Red-billed Tropicbirds.
Brown Booby: I saw at least fifteen during the day which was a Western Palearctic TickBrown Booby: This is the nominate leucogaster subspecies which is the same subspecies that we saw around St Helena & Ascension IslandBrown BoobyCape Verde Shearwaters were the commonest species seen during the day. I estimated I saw around 2500 during the afternoon.
Cape Verde Shearwater: We disturbed large rafts of Cape Verde Shearwaters sitting on the seaCape Verde Shearwater: Another large raftCape Verde Shearwater: I like the way Shearwaters follow each other in a line. There must be an aerodynamic benefit
Cape Verde Shearwater: I really like this photo
Cape Verde ShearwaterWe had seen a few Bulwer's Petrels on the final day approaching Cape Verde, so it was already on my Western Palearctic list. Although, I saw around thirty during the afternoon, I only photographed one individual. I was clearly concentrating on finding new Seabirds.
Bulwer's Petrel: This was to become one of the regular species until we left MadeiraI also saw at least thirty Boyd's Little Shearwaters & this was the only day I saw them. Due to the inconsistencies of taxonomy, this was a World Tick, but not a Western Palearctic Tick. Little Shearwaters taxonomy has changed significantly over recent years. Originally, Little Shearwaters were regarded as a widespread species with populations breeding around the remote offshore islands of Australia & New Zealand, as well as, Tristan da Cunha & Gough Island. Additionally, there was a North Atlantic population that bred on Cape Verde, the Azores, Desertas, Salvage Islands & the Canaries. Studies showed that the Atlantic populations renamed Macronesian Little Shearwater were a separate species, from the Little Shearwater that we saw on the approach to South Georgia & Gough Island. More recently, Clements & the IOC have split Macronesian Little Shearwater into Boyd's Little Shearwater & Baroli's Little Shearwater, with Boyd's Little Shearwater breeding on Cape Verde & Baroli's Little Shearwater on the Azores, Desertas, Salvage Islands & the Canaries. As always in Birding there are a number of different authorities all vying to define the boundaries on the Western Palearctic & their version of taxonomy. I follow the boundaries as laid down in the Handbook of Western Palearctic that were agreed about the time I started getting serious with my Birding in the late 1970s. The AERC checklist that follows those boundaries, is based upon a common position from the different countries rarities committees that make up the Western Palearctic (effectively the AERC provides an EU or UN equivalent for rarities committees). However, there are some taxonomy differences between the AERC taxonomy & Clements/IOC taxonomy. Currently, the AERC checklist only recognises Macronesian Little Shearwater. Hopefully, they will come in line with Clements & the IOC taxonomies in time & I will get an armchair Tick. Still it's the best Western Palearctic checklist. It is much better than following a self-appointed individual like Shirihai who uses a different set of boundaries to generate a larger Western Palearctic total. In my opinion, is designed to help him sell his books. I don't have a lot of time for mavericks who think they know better than the agreed consensus in Birding. One of my mates tried to support Shirihai's boundaries in a discussion down the pub a few years ago. He argued 'it is good as it adds lots of vagrants onto the alternative Western Palearctic checklist'. Adding vagrants isn't a valid argument. Anyway, back to Boyd's Little Shearwater.
Boyd's Little Shearwater: They are a small Shearwater compared to a Manx Shearwater & similar in size & shape to the Little Shearwaters we had seen in the South Atlantic on the Odyssey & the couple of Baroli's Little Shearwaters that I saw (but didn't photograph) off Madeira on 5 May. The dark markings around the elbow on the underwing is more extensive on a Boyd's Little Shearwater, compared to the whiter elbow on a Baroli's Little ShearwaterBoyd's Little Shearwater: The fluttering flight & stiffer wings were similar to the two other species of Little Shearwaters. The hand is dark on the underwing (like a Manx Shearwater), whereas the white extends further into the centre of the hand on a Baroli's Little ShearwaterBoyd's Little Shearwater: They have a white eye ring and white extending onto the ear coverts Boyd's Little Shearwater: They have longer, darker undertail coverts than either Baroli's Little Shearwater or Manx Shearwater. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to show this featureBoyd's Little Shearwater: Overall, they are darker than the Little Shearwaters that we saw in the South Atlantic which were more of a blue-grey colourationOne of the key species I was looking for during the afternoon was Cape Verde Storm-petrel. As previous discussed for Band-rumped Storm-petrel posts from St Helena & Ascension Island, the taxonomy of the Band-rumped Storm-petrel complex in the central Atlantic is complicated. The latest understanding appears that there is one species of the Band-rumped Storm-petrel complex breeding on Cape Verde between Oct to June & that is Cape Verde Storm-petrel. I saw about thirty Cape Verde Storm-petrels during the afternoon, but failed to get more than a handful of half presentable photos.Cape Verde Storm-petrel: All photos are of the same individual. Note the broad & clean white rump & slightly forked tail. Leach's Storm-petrel would be longer & narrower-winged with a more curved white rump & likely to have a dark line through the centre of the rump (parallel to the body). The dark line is variable in how obvious it is. Leach's Storm-petrel also have a much deeper forked tailCape Verde Storm-petrel: The white continues down the sides of the rump much further on Cape Verde Storm-petrels than on Leach's Storm-petrels. This is a consistent feature with the other Band-rumped Storm-petrels we had seen around St Helena & Ascension IslandCape Verde Storm-petrel: The tail hardly looks forked in this photoCape Verde Storm-petrel: The flight action of the Cape Verde Storm-petrels was similar to the Band-rumped Storm-petrels we saw earlier & later on the Plancius. The flight action of the Cape Verde Storm-petrels was steadier, whereas the Leach's Storm-petrels were always more erratic & constantly changing direction. To me, the flight action of Leach's Storm-petrels is how a Storm-petrel would fly if drunkCape Verde Storm-petrel: Again, there is a prominent underwing band & the tail doesn't look vary forkedCape Verde Storm-petrel: The tail appears a little deeper forked in this photo, but the rump patch still looks like a Cape Verde Storm-petrel. Photos of the Band-rumped Storm-petrels at St Helena, showed that the depth of the rump could vary between photos on the same individual. Separating a Cape Verde Storm-petrel from one of the other Band-rumped Storm-petrel complex is best done by seeing them around the breeding islands I also saw three White-faced Storm-petrels during the afternoon. Unfortunately, none were close. The combination of the pale grey colouration & a feeding action much close to the water surface compared to the Cape Verde Storm-petrels & Leach's Storm-petrels, made them tricky to pick up & stay on to them. I picked up at least one, by catching a glimpse of something, which I immediately lost behind a wave. Persistence finally revealed it as it re-emerged from behind a wave. They often had their long legs down, so clearly were feeding right on the water's surface. It wasn't helped by the choppy seas with lots of white caps to the waves. It was another good Western Palearctic Tick.
White-faced Storm-petrel: They are a very distinctive Storm-petrel species with their black-edged white underwing, dark undertail, white supercilium & dark grey mask around the eyeWhite-faced Storm-petrel: Another view of the same individual. This is the eadesorum subspecies which breeds on Cape VerdeWhite-faced Storm-petrel: A second more distant individual showing the long legs noticeable projecting beyond the tailWhite-faced Storm-petrel: The upper side of the second individual showing the distinctive upperparts. Although, they were tricky to pick up in this choppy sea state, they were immediately identifiable
The highlight of the afternoon occurred around four. For many, this was the time of the late afternoon cake appearance in the Observation lounge. But not for me as I was on the deck chatting to Colin: another of the Wildwings punters had stayed on from the Odyssey. Colin stopped the conversation when he said 'Get onto this'. It wasn't several hundred metres out, but as soon as I picked it up, it was clear it was a Pterodroma, having watched several hundred Soft-plumaged Petrels in the Southern Oceans. Only one species breeds at Cape Verde: Fea's Petrel. I shouted to alert other Birders, but there were only a few around & lifted the camera. Probably a number had gone down to the Observation lounge for a drink or the afternoon talk. Frustratingly, it never came close & it was the only one I saw. There were only two others seen. Henrik, one of the new Wildwings punters, had seen one at lunchtime when he was the only person on deck. Roy & Lorraine had one off the stern the following day.
Fea's Petrel: Identification is based on location as the other two local breeding species breed around Madeira & the Desertas Islands
Fea's Petrel
I hadn't had the best of views of all the new Seabirds, but at least I had seen all the target species & I had got some record photos at least. Many of the passengers had missed one or both of the White-faced Storm-petrels & Fea's Petrels. So, I felt I had done fairly well by the end of the afternoon on the Bird front. There was still one more highlight during the afternoon, but I will cover that in the next Post.
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9th November

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 22:27
Apart from seeing in a marked downturn in the weather this week has also come up with the two best falls of Goldcrests of the autumn, with today's arrival of 50 or so at the Bill being a particular surprise - it can't have been much fun migrating in last night's blasting wind. With very heavy rain setting in and the wind gusting up towards 70mph by the evening today wasn't really birdable after midday but, the Goldcrests aside, the morning did come up with a scatter of 4 Black Redstarts, plenty of new Chaffinches and a odd ones of twos of other routine late arrivals. Kittiwakes begun to pass the Bill in moderate numbers as the blow set in but the sea was otherwise pretty quiet.

Three of today's Black Redstarts - like this one at Church Ope Cove - were probably winterers settling in for the duration, but one at the Obs looked to be a new arrival © Martin Adlam Port and Wey Blog:

It might have got pretty stormy at times in the last few days but it's still very mild so a Clouded Yellow on the wing at Church Ope wasn't too much of a surprise © Martin Adlam Port and Wey Blog:
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Sightings - Friday 9th November 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 17:09
Whooper Swan  - 3 west over Ferrybridge, 1 Hampreston Meadows Longham
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 3 Ferrybridge
Ring-necked Duck - 1 1st/W Radipole Lake RSPB
Scaup - 3 Radipole Lake RSPB
Cattle Egret - 6 Athelhampton
Great White Egret - 1 Radipole Lake RSPB, 1 Longham Lakes
Glaucous Gull - 1 West Bexington
Swallow - 1 Asker's Meadows Bridport
Hume's Leaf Warbler - 1 still Durlston CP.
Black Redstart - 1 Blacknor Portland

Whooper Swan - Ferrybridge © Edmund Mackrill
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1 May 18 - West African Pelagic - Razo From The Sea

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 17:00
Our first morning at sea was the final approach to Razo Island: home of our last endemic landbird, Razo Lark. This was planned to be our only planned zodiac cruise of the West African Pelagic. The island is a strict nature reserve & we wouldn't get the chance to land, but we had a chance of seeing them from the zodiacs. As I woke up, it was clear that there was a significant wind blowing & the Plancius was pitching & rolling. We had been told that it was likely to up to 30 knots of wind & it felt it. A number of the new passengers were absent from breakfast & that number had increased by the evening meal: they were clearly not enjoying the movement. I was also feeling uneasy about the morning. Not due to the weather, as my sea legs were now well-trained, although I had hit the seasickness tablets just in case. But I wasn't confident we would get the go ahead to put the zodiacs in the sea in these conditions. Especially, with a new Expedition staff team on board.
The sea was pretty choppy as we made the final approach to Razo: I wasn't confident the zodiacs would be launchedIt was a nervous few hours waiting for news on the zodiacs. It didn't help by being told, that we didn't have the time in the schedule to hang around & wait for the wind & seas to calm down. Not that the forecast was expecting that the wind was likely to drop & it would take even longer for the seas to calm down.
Razo is a fair low, flat island: We were now fairly close & the sea was still looking choppy Still there were potential Seabird Ticks to look for as I hadn't seen any of the few Cape Verde Storm-petrels or Boyd's Little Shearwater seen on the day before we arrived into Cape Verde. Nobody has seen a Fea's Petrel from the Plancius so far. Additionally, there were still a few other potential Western Palearctic Seabird Ticks we could see. Armed with coffee & early morning biscuits, I headed up to the bridge wing for some pre-breakfast Birding (obviously the biscuits didn't count as breakfast).
Cape Verde Shearwater: This species was formally considered to be a subspecies of Cory's Shearwater, but has now been split as an endemic species which is restricted to Cape VerdeCape Verde Shearwater: They are smaller & short-winged that Cory's Shearwater & don't have the lazy bow-winged appearance that Cory's Shearwaters can show. The dull pale pinkish bill with a black subterminal band differs from the heavier, pale yellow bill with a black subterminal band of Cory's ShearwatersCape Verde ShearwaterCape Verde ShearwaterCape Verde Shearwater: The hand of the underwing is dark which is similar to Cory's Shearwater, whereas, the Mediterranean breeding Scopoli's subspecies of Cory's Shearwater has the white extending further into the centre of the hand
Cape Verde ShearwaterCape Verde Shearwater: They have pale pink legs which is similar to Cory's ShearwatersRed-billed Tropicbird: This Red-billed Tropicbird flew past the Plancius just before breakfastRed-billed Tropicbird: This is the mesonauta subspecies which occurs in the Subtropical & Tropical East Pacific, Caribbean & East Atlantic. It is a different subspecies to the nominate aetheneus subspecies that we saw around St Helena & Ascension IslandFinally, the news came over the tannoy that the Plancius were going to put a couple of zodiacs in the water to see if it was OK. It was & we got told to get ready for our trip. We had asked if all the Wildwings party could stay in one group & when they tossed a coin the previous evening, we were in the first group of zodiacs. We would get around 75 minutes in the zodiacs to look for the Razo Larks, including a cruise along the coast to a cliff with some nesting Red-billed Tropicbirds.
Razo Island: It was a bit more sheltered as we reached this corner of the island
Razo Island: It looks an unforgiving island. But not having had people living on it, Razo had become a final sanctuary for the endemic Razo Lark. In 2018, a small population of thirty Razo Larks were moved to nearby Santa Luzia island to hopefully set up a second breeding population. At the time of writing this Post (Nov 18), twenty Razo Larks are pairing up & singing. Hopefully some will breed during the breeding season (Oct/Nov)
Razo Island: There were a couple of basic camps on the island. Initially, I thought they maybe camps for local fishermen, but more likely there are associated with SPEA (Birdlife Portugal), Bisosfera (a Cape Verde NGO) & their colleagues who are studying the Razo LarksI got into one of the zodiacs with a number of the Wildwings group who had come up from Ushuaia. We figured that we were used to the zodiacs & didn't want to be in a zodiac with others who potentially weren't used to zodiacs. It would also be more fun as all the Wildwings punters who stayed on were good friends after a month at sea. We cruised up & down the edge of the barren volcanic edge of the island, but were struggling to see much. We did see a potential Razo Lark candidate in flight over the flat plain behind: realistically it wasn't identifiable on the brief view, but probably was one. There was a shout over the radio, that one of the other zodiacs had seen some around the rough camp. We quickly headed that way & confirmed that it was a party of at least 25 Cape Verde Sparrows. Not a good start.
Cape Verde Sparrows: This party were perching on one of the ledges near the campThese Cape Verde Sparrows were claimed on several occasions to be Razo Larks by inexperienced punters & Expedition staff. A bit later, there was a second report of a single Razo Lark on the rocks near the camp, but it flew off before we got there. We hung around this time, as this individual was nearby, but not with the Cape Verde Sparrows. Fortunately, it flew down again & looked promising. I still couldn't be certain with the bins, so I blasted off some photos & a quick check on the back of the camera confirmed it was a Razo Lark. Directions continued to be given in our zodiac, but it was only when it flew off that we realised Lorraine hadn't seen it. Not good news.
Razo Lark: The Razo Lark was standing on one of the coastal rocks & just a bit too far to be be sure of the identification with the bins on a pitching & rolling zodiac. The harsh light didn't help Razo Lark: Fortunately, the camera helped in confirming the identificationRazo Lark: Two hours earlier, I didn't think we would get the zodiacs launched, so I won't complain too much about the quality of these picturesRazo Lark: Many of the Razo Larks are colour ringedRazo Lark: This was probably the sharpest picture, so it is a pity it is looking awayRazo Lark: Soon after taking this final photo, it flew back to the plain above the rocky shoreline & we didn't see it again. This was our final endemic PasserineEventually, all the zodiacs left for the Red-billed Tropicbird cliff. The Razo Lark hadn't reappeared & we took a quick vote on what we should do. Only one of the zodiac, new Wildwings punter, Neil Bowman voted to head off for the cliff for some photos for the day. He had seen & photographed them in the past and was outvoted as the rest of us agreed to stay to give Lorraine more time to see the Razo Lark.
Morten: Our Expedition leader returns with his zodiac We returned to the Plancius, where Lorraine was told she could go out again if she wanted. She did & saw at least one Razo Lark. Neil was also given the opportunity to go out again & he declined. So he can't have been too upset at missing the Red-billed Tropicbird cliff. I heard later that the views from the other zodiacs weren't brilliant & not as good as the views we had enjoyed of passing individuals on the Odyssey. So Razo ended well for us. We now had the afternoon to carry on seawatching for the remaining Seabird Ticks.
The nearby island of Branco: An inhospitable islandA close up of the rock slide on BrancoAnother Cape Verde island: I'm guessing this is Sao Nicolau
There was time for lunch today as we remained off Razo Island during lunch while the zodiacs were being loaded back onboard the Plancius. I was back on deck for our departure from Razo Island. There were still a number of new Seabirds to see.
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9 Nov 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 16:50
Broadcroft Quarry Lane, The Pools, Bumpers Lane, Rufus Castle, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Church and Penns Woods.

Another blustery day, but definitely a better day for birding, with main highlights being the Black Redstart and now 14 Rock Pipits at Church Ope Cove, and 5 Goldcrests, 3 Long-tailed Tits & a Chiffchaff in Penns Wood.
Another really good highlight was a Clouded Yellow taking shelter in the grounds of St Andrew's Church. On this day last year I had two on the north bank of Church Ope Cove, just a stones throw away from this individual. They must like it here.

Elsewhere there was a Meadow Pipit over the lane, a Song Thrush at the east end of the Mermaid Track, 2 Marmalade Hoverflies in Penns Weare where there was also a Red Admiral. The Kestrel was over the beach again, this time upsetting the Rock Pipits. I also had 3 flies which I need to ID.
Here are a few images from today.
There were 12 Herring Gulls in the lower paddocks today including this adult winter left and what is probably a 4th winter bird due to its immature bill pattern. However I can't rule out a 3rd winter bird as I didn't get to see if there was any brown feathering.

One of the local Carrion Crows just letting everyone know that this is his patch
Looking south from the top of The Cuttings.
A few flies to ID, this one...........
......this one......
......and this one.
Church Ope Cove and "home" to.............
....this Black Redstart.
It seems to enjoy it here......
.......flitting in amongst the rocks............ search of food.
He's not alone as there were 14 Rock Pipits here this morning........
.......and no wonder with so many Kelp Flies to choose from.
Here another Rock Pipit with slight darker bolder markings than some of the others around it.
Also here a lone 1st winter Pied Wagtail.
Which is joined by 2 Rock Pipits.
There is always a lookout, bit like Meerkats and no wonder as a........
........Kestrel takes an interest in them.
Danger gone and time to find another patch.
It's funny what you find washed up on the beach. An Aubergine!!
In the grounds of St Andrew's Church I came across a Clouded Yellow. This is the first one that has stayed still enough for me to photograph it since I moved here 18 months ago. Incidentally I had two on this very day last year, just a hundred metres away on the cliff face at Church Ope Cove.

My photos wouldn't be complete for the day if I didn't include these two lads. Benji and Ted.
Birds Recorded: 1 Cormorant, 1 Kestrel, 12 Herring Gull, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 14 Rock Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 3 Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch
Butterflies Recorded: 1 Clouded Yellow and 1 Red Admiral

Also recorded: 50+ wasps, 2 Marmalade Hoverflies and millions of Kelp Flies.

3 Redwing in the neighbours Sycamore this morning which eventually flew south. Also 2 Goldcrests passing through.
Redwing number one.
Number 2, unfortunately no number 3 as they all flew off before I could photograph it.
A Goldfinch on the feeder. Below, on the lawn, 6 Chaffinches and 2 Greenfinches.
Ships Today
This is the Cargo vessel "Tento" flying the flag of the Marshall Islands.
Its on its way from Buchanan, Liberia to Bremen, Denmark, via Weymouth Harbour. More on this Bulk Carrier Here.

Tento braving the heavy seas
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2017
Today's Sightings Here when I had 2 Clouded Yellows at Church Ope Cove and Firecrests.
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Sightings - Thursday 8th November 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 21:36
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 7 Ferrybridge
Gadwall - 1 Ferrybridge (unusual at this location)
Ring-necked Duck - 1 1st/W Radipole Lake RSPB
Red-throated Diver - 2 Chesil Cove
Great Northern Diver - 1 past Peveril Point
Cattle Egret - 6 Athelhamton, 1 Stoborough nr. Wareham by-pass
Great White Egret - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Black-necked Grebe - 2 Portland Hbr.
Hen Harrier - 1 male Morden Bog
Goshawk - 1 juv/fem Milton Abbas
Golden Plover - 300 Compton Abbas
Ruff - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 Lodmoor RSPB (7th week)
Woodcock - 1 Hengistbury Hd.
Arctic Skua - 1 flew over Lodmoor RSPB
Sandwich Tern - 1 Ferrybridge
Kittiwake - 25 past Hengistbury
Little Gull - 3 Chesil Cove
Woodlark - 1 in off sea Hengistbury Hd.
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1 Fortuneswell Portland
Hume's Leaf Warbler - 1 Durlston CP.
Black Redstart - 1 Swanage, 1 Church Ope Cove, 1 Reap Lane Portland
Twite - 2 report Durlston CP (per info service)

Lesser Yellowlegs - LOdmoor RSPB ©Edmund Mackrill

Mandarin - Poole Park © David Wareham

Cattle Egret - Stoborough Wareham by-pass © Clive & Rosemary Hargrave
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8th November

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 18:33
A day of strong Southerlies again failed to produce anything of note on the land and, as expected, totals of birds came from the Northern extremities of Ferrybridge and the Cove. The birding highlight of the day came from a settled Gadwall at Ferrybridge (the first for the year), 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a lone Sandwich Tern, 37 Dunlin, and 2 Black-necked Grebes. The Cove produced a similar tally to yesterday with 3 Little Gulls, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers. A marginally better day for passerines than yesterday, although that's not saying much, with a Yellow-browed Warbler at Fortuneswell and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane being the main highlights.

Its been a very poor year for thrush movements and this Fieldfare in Southwell is only the 47th record of the autumn © Debby Saunders: 

A known bird around Ferrybridge, this Brent Goose has returned to the Fleet flock every year since 2016 © Pete Saunders: 

Despite there being a good number of Gadwall just a few miles away at Radipole it is still an unusual sight to see within the boundaries of Portland © Pete Saunders: 

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30 Apr 18 - A Day Trip To Cape Verde (Part 3)

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 18:00
This is the final part of the trilogy for the day trip to Praia & Santiago Island. We had seen the endemic Cape Verde Buzzard, Alexander's Swift & Cape Verde Sparrow, along with the endemic subspecies of Kestrel and Purple Heron. Additionally, we had enjoyed good views of the endemic Cape Verde Warbler & a few other Cape Verde subspecies around the reservoir. It was time to head off to look for Black-crowned Finchlark & Cream-coloured Courser. The first stop was for another Alexander's Kestrel. They really look more Merlin, rather than Kestrel, shape to my eyes.
Alexander's Kestrel
It was around an hour drive back towards the outskirts of Praia. But first, there was an unsuccessful stop to look for some Bar-tailed Desert Larks on a more open stony plain. Still there was time to admire this superb Baobab tree.A Baobab tree: This should become the official logo of McDonaldsA couple of locals with the lady showing the impressive way African women can carry things on their heads: Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The population is a mixture of European, Moorish, Arab & African heritage & numbers around 550,000. Most of the islanders we saw appeared to have had an African heritage
A lot of the houses on the island look like the owners haven't got the money to finish them off like the ones on the right: However, the ones on the left stood out as more finished than normal
A local village
We finally reached the Cream-coloured Courser site near the airport. This was just an area of dry scrub with more open sandy ground. A drive around failed to find any Cream-coloured Coursers, but did produce a small group of Black-crowned Finchlarks.
Black-crowned Finchlark: Female. This is the nominate nigriceps subspecies which is another Cape Verde endemic subspecies. Other subspecies occur from Southern Morocco to Somalia, Southern Iraq & Iran to Pakistan & NW IndiaBlack-crowned Finchlark: FemaleBlack-crowned Finchlark: FemaleBlack-crowned Finchlark: FemaleBlack-crowned Finchlark: FemaleBlack-crowned Finchlark: Male. The males are very distinctiveBlack-crowned Finchlark: MaleBlack-crowned Finchlark: MaleWe were just on the point of giving up, when a couple of Cream-coloured Coursers were seen flying over the more bushy area on the other side of the road. They landed & we drop back to roughly where they had landed. They were never close, but it was good to see this final interesting Wader. We had seen all my target species on Santiago Island, except for the Cape Verde Barn Owl. This is another endemic subspecies of Barn Owl, which has been proposed by some authorities for promotion to a species. They are difficult to see during the daytime. Steve had been lucky to bump into one during daytime on the previous day. However, it was a significant drive to revisit that site & we didn't have the time. As we were due to sail before dark, then there was no chance of seeing one around Praia in the evening. Overall, it has been a successful day.
Cream-coloured Courser: A habitat shot with the Cream-coloured Courser being the slightly paler speck in the distance 
Cream-coloured Courser: It was difficult to get close as it was steadily moving, but then it had Little John & Mrs Little John chasing after it along, with several other photographers. I tried to get ahead, so I could sit down & wait for it, but one of the photographers walked to close to me & pushed it away again. I gave up at that point & left the others to it. The only thing using good fieldcraft was the Treble CCream-coloured Courser: This is the excul subspecies which is endemic to Cape Verde. Other subspecies occur in the Canaries, North Africa, Turkey, to NW India, the Arabian Peninsula & on Socotra IslandFinally, it was time to rejoin the Plancius. About an hour later, the new passengers started boarding. I met my new cabin mates: two Dutch Birding lads, Ray & Jeroen. They proved to be pleasant company. It was a novelty for me to be nearly always first up & out of the cabin in the mornings. About 80% of the passengers were Dutch. There were a number of keen Birders & one or two on board specifically for Cetaceans. However, there were less Birders overall than on the Odyssey. At the introductory briefings in the Observation lounge we were introduced to the new Expedition staff, the Expedition Leader Morten & his deputy Nozomi. Morten & Nozomi had been passengers on the Odyssey & were now changing roles. Morten has run at least one previous Atlantic Odyssey in the past, as well as, having been on many polar trips: so, he was well suited to the role. Nozomi is based in California & while enthusiastic, she was still learning the Birds & Cetaceans of the North Atlantic. This was a private Birding Pelagic charter of the Plancius by Dutch Wildlife Tour company Inezia & we were introduced to Peter who was their representative on the ship. We were told there were a couple of Bird-spotters on board, who were keen & competent pelagic Birders. This was quite important as none of the new Expedition staff knew a great deal about the Seabirds were were likely to be bumping into. Several would have been more at home in the High Arctic, but we were not going further North than Holland. One was a star gazer & while a nice character, like another of his colleagues, was completely wrong as an Expedition guide for a dedicated Birding pelagic in my opinion. One of the factors was for most of the Expedition staff to speak Dutch. But I'm surprised there aren't other Dutch-speaking Expedition staff who are also Birders. Hans would have been perfect for the role, but he had left as he had been at sea for weeks & had other land-based commitments. Typically, when there was something good seen, either Birds or Cetaceans, we had to ask the Expedition staff to broadcast the news over the radios. Experienced staff shouldn't need to be asked & asking for a radio shout, distracted from trying to get other people nearby onto the current goodie. My initial feelings were that that had I been an inexperienced pelagic Birder, then I would have been concerned about the lack of experienced Birding staff on the Plancius. However, having just spent a month at sea approaching Cape Verde, my confidence levels & knowledge felt well-honed. I knew where I wanted to stand on the Plancius & rarely left the bridge wings for long. There was still the questions of identification of some of the trickier Cetaceans, but fortunately, Marijke was still on board & in my opinion, she knew more about Cetacean identification than the rest of the Expedition staff & passengers combined. For any really tricky Seabirds we still had Bob Flood on board if we could get photos. It was going to be an interesting trip, but already I had the feeling it wasn't going to be as well run as the Atlantic Odyssey. Talking to a few of the Wildwings punters who had stayed on, I wasn't the only person with this feeling. By the time we had completed the introductions & safety briefing, it was dusk. We were sailing for Razo & our only planned zodiac cruise the following morning.
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8 Nov 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 17:09
Broadcroft Quarry Lane, Pools, The Cuttings, Rufus Castle, Penns Weare, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Church and Penns Wood.

Another day of howling gales which made bird watching pretty difficult, the only real highlight was a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove. Its almost certainly the same bird seen this week, but perhaps took shelter in yesterdays down pours, hence no sighting of it then. In fact there were a few times today where it disappeared into small "caves" in the cliff to keep out of the wind, so I guess that's what it was doing yesterday to keep out of the rain.

The lane was eerily quiet and apart from a Robin that was it.

Elsewhere there were Long-tailed Tits calling from below The Cuttings and a Kestrel working its way along Penns Weare and the beach.

Also along the beach, with the Black Redstart, there were 10 Rock Pipits including the pale bird. I say 10 as 3 took off when walkers stumbled into them as I was watching them. Hmm. Also here just the one 1st winter Pied Wagtail and an adult bird.

No Goldcrests or Chiffchaffs in Penns Wood just 2 Chaffinches and that was it!!!

Here are a few images and videos.

Down through The Cuttings.
This Kestrel is really concentrating in the stiff breeze coming off the sea. 
Its amazing how the body moves but the head keeps relatively still.
Having failed to find anything on Penns Weare....... moves right onto the shoreline..........
........perhaps looking for a seafood meal!!

A Kestrel fishing, surely not!!
Hopefully this Black Redstart is a long stayer.
It was certainly enjoying the Kelp flies that are abundant here.

A Black Redstart on the beach at Church Ope Cove. Perhaps overwintering.
Ten Rock Pipits here today.....
........though three were spooked when some walkers put them up and they flew south.
A 1st winter Pied Wagtail. Close-by there was also an adult.
Pennsylvania Castle with the ruins of of St Andrews Church below.
In the woods a Harlequin Ladybird.
Old Man’s Beard, Clematis vitalba.........
...........Also known as Travellers’ Joy and Wild Clematis.
The hips of the Dog-rose, Rosa canina.........
..........and in amongst them Robins Pincushion which have been produced by the larvae of the Bedeguar Gall Wasp (Diplolepis rosae)
After the flowers - Ivy fruit
Benji and Ted. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.
The road to nowhere as work on the new housing estate in Bumpers Lane comes to a halt. The reason why - Asbestos found several weeks back!!
Birds Recorded: 1 Cormorant, 2 Kestrel, 6 Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, 10 Rock Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, 1 Black Redstart, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Also recorded: 50+ wasps.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2017
Today's Sightings Here
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Sightings - Wednesday 7th November 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 20:28
Whooper Swan - 1 juvenile Hampreston Fields
Ring-necked Duck - 1 CY drake Radipole
Black-throated Diver - 1 past Hengistbury Head
Cattle Egret - 2 Burton Meadows, 1 Stoborough
Great White Egret - 1 Longham Lakes, 1 Lodmoor
Spoonbill - 32 Shipstall Point, Arne
Marsh Harrier - 3 Lodmoor
Green Sandpiper - 1 Holton Lee
Jack Snipe - 1 Lodmoor
Great Skua - 3 south through Chesil Cove
Little Gull - 6 past Chesil Cove
Glaucous Gull - 1 Ferrybridge
Common Tern - 1 Ferrybridge
Little Auk - 1 reportedly flew past Portland Bill
Short-eared Owl - 1 Lytchett Bay flew north
Water Pipit - 2 Lodmoor
Black Redstart - 1 Portland, near lighthouse
Hume's Leaf Warbler - 1 Durlston, east of Castle

Black Brant, Ferrybridge copyright Roderick Taylor

Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Ferrybridge copyright Roderick Taylor

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7th November

Portland Bird Observatory - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 17:43
With a night of pretty wild weather being followed by a day that was scarcely any better - the heavy showers came through thick and fast for a good part of the morning - most of today's attention was devoted to the sea or Ferrybridge; the land did get some looks but it was way too windy for even the spots that usually afford some shelter. The pick of the rewards from the sea were 6 Little Gulls and 4 Great Skuas through Chesil Cove, the Glaucous Gull and a late Common Tern through Ferrybridge and a Great Skua and a Little Auk through off the Bill; numbers weren't really much of a feature, with totals for the first couple of hours of the morning of 400 Gannets from Chesil Cove and 300 Kittiwakes from the Bill as good as it got. A Black Redstart at the Bill was the best of a meagre return from the land.

Late terns in this part of the world are usually either Sandwich or Arctic so it was nice to get a fully confirmed Common Terns sighting from Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:
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30 Apr 18 - A Day Trip To Cape Verde (Part 2)

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 17:00
We had had a good start to the day trip to Praia & Santiago Island where we had seen the endemic species Cape Verde Buzzard, Alexander's Swift & Cape Verde Sparrow. Additionally, we had seen the endemic Bourne's Purple Heron & Alexander's Kestrel which are regarded as subspecies of Purple Heron & Kestrel respectively, but have been split in the past. However, we still needed to see the endemic Cape Verde Warbler. This is another Acrocephalus Warbler that seems to have found a niche on a small island group & evolved into a distinct species. The Pacific has quite a few Acrocephalus Warblers including Tahiti Reed Warbler, Pitcairn Reed Warbler & Henderson Island Reed Warbler.
Cape Verde Warbler: There were several in the Acacia scrub. Despite the Acacia looking to be a fairly open tree, they were remarkable good at skulking in itCape Verde Warbler: They sit still & spend a lot of time looking for insects. This species is restricted to Santiago Island, but used to occur on Sao Nicolau & Brava IslandsCape Verde Warbler: It is surprisingly short-wingedChestnut-bellied Kingfisher: This species is also known as Grey-headed Kingfisher & is found on Cape Verde, in most of Sub Saharan Africa & along the Red Sea coast of the Southern Arabian PeninsulaChestnut-bellied Kingfisher: This is the acteon subspecies which only occurs on the Cape Verde islands & is a nice Western Palearctic TickChestnut-bellied Kingfisher: This widespread species helped to make Cape Verde feel more African than the Canaries & Madeira which have a more European feel to their BirdsSpectacled Warbler: This is the orbitalis subspecies which occurs on Cape Verde, the Canaries & Madeira. The nominate conspicillata subspecies occurs in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy & North Africa
Spectacled Warbler: I only saw a couple during the day
Spectacled WarblerBlackcap: This is the gularis subspecies of Blackcap which is restricted to Cape Verde & the AzoresBlackcap: It was good to get these photos as I only saw a couple of Blackcaps during the dayThere was also an African Monarch by the dam. The last ones we had seen were on St Helena.
African MonarchBack on the dam wall, a few more Black-winged Stilts had joined the Little Egret flock. Overall, there were ten Black-winged Stilts on the reservoir bottom, but most were further back.
Little Egrets & Black-winged Stilts Black-winged Stilt: This is regarded as a monotypic species with just one subspecies throughout its rangeIt was time to head off to look for some Larks & Cream-coloured Courser. As we were driving away from the reservoir, we saw this group of Helmeted Guineafowls feeding quietly near the road. A quick stop allowed a few photos from the minibus. This widespread Sub-Saharan African species are regarded as a self-sustaining population on the Cape Verde, so it was Cat C addition to my Western Palearctic List.
Helmeted GuineafowlHelmeted Guineafowl
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7 Nov 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 14:04
Penns Wood, St Andrew's Church, Church Ope Cove and Rufus Castle

Well I thought I'd timed it right, there was a break in the weather and so I took the opportunity to do a quick circuit of the woods, cove and castle. Timing is everything and it wasn't on my side today, as I got a good soaking not once, not twice but three times as wave after wave of squally showers came up the island.

At least it wasn't in vain as I stopped off in Penns Wood and recorded at least 3 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Great Tits, 3 Blue Tits, a Wren and 7 Chaffinches.

On the beach no sign of the Black Redstart from yesterday, which wasn't surprising as the wind and rain was coming straight in here. There were however several Rock Pipits again and 2 Pied Wagtails which appear to have joined them all feeding on what I believe are Bristly-legged Seaweed-flies or Kelp Fly (Coelopa frigida). There are tens of thousands of these Kelp flies here, so no doubt this beach will be worth visiting many times this Autumn for more birds.

All the Rock Pipits here were their "usual" dark colouration, but one bird stood out from them all, with pale yellow underparts and an overall light fawn colour. Odd!

Here are a few images from today:

Penns Wood looking very Autumnal. All we need now is a Yellow-browed Warbler or a Firecrest to grace its trees.
Stormy seas off Church Ope Cove.
Dozens of wasps still on the Ivy.
A male Blackbird has set up camp around the huts at the back of Church Ope Cove.
On the beach a 1st Winter Pied Wagtail.
And another.
Several Rock Pipits still on the beach feeding on the thousands of Kelp flies.
All the individuals I saw were fairly dark coloured, apart from......
......this individual which was pale yellow below.
Quite a fawny brown....
.....with pale brown legs.
The same bird perched on a boulder in front of me. Just a pale Rock Pipit I suppose!!
There are tens of thousands of these Kelp Flies on the beach, which should keep the Rock Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Wrens happy for a long time.

Birds Recorded: Wood Pigeon, 7 Rock Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, 2 Blackbird, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Carrion Crow, 7 Chaffinch and 3 Goldfinch.

Also recorded several thousand Kelp Flies, 50+ wasps sp.


I wasn't quite how much birding I was going to be able to do today, as the weather was absolutely appalling, with gale force winds and squally showers, this morning.

A bit of interesting news though, which does seem to be a bit of a coincidence. The 5 Wood Lark I saw on Monday were seen at The Bill yesterday (See PBO News Here). Same birds, I obviously can't be sure, but did the birds I watch head northwest, settle to the north of the island and then head back south the next day. We will never know!!

Only birds I could report from this morning were 2 Great Tits, a Blue Tit and Chaffinch on the feeders. Hopefully more news later...............

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2017
Today's Sightings Here
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6th November

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 23:36
An ever freshening wind spoilt proceedings today although not before a Dusky Warbler had shown up at the Higher Light to provide a much-needed sniff of rarity action. The 2 Black Brants were again at Ferrybridge and local oddities included 5 Woodlarks leaving to the south over the Bill, 7 Mute Swans at Ferrybridge and single Black Redstarts at the Bill and Church Ope Cove. New commoner migrants weren't plentiful but included a few Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, thrushes and finches at the Bill, whilst the goose totals at Ferrybridge increased to 2120 Dark-bellied and 7 Pale-bellied Brents. For a while it looked as though sea passage might be picking up but no sooner had 100 Kittiwakes and 3 Great Skuas passed through off the Bill then movement fizzled out.

Despite largely clear skies overnight it remained quite mild and there was a decent arrival of immigrant moths at the Obs; a Red-headed Chestnut was the highlight, with 13 White-speck, 3 Radford's Flame Shoulder and an Olive-tree Pearl amongst the rest of the catch.

The Dusky Warbler proved to be a frustrating bird: when first discovered it was very vocal and easy to follow even if it afforded little more than glimpses and flight views - it had all the feel of something that had just dropped in; however, it quickly became all but silent and before long vanished into thin air just as we thought we had it pinned down in an isolated clump of Tree Mallows - all we were left with to remember it by was a dodgy phone-recording:

Goldcrest was again the most conspicuous common migrant of the day - this one was in a random wind-swept bush high on the West Cliffs © Martin Cade:

This morning's Mute Swans at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

Today's Red-headed Chestnut was the tenth for the island but the first since 2011© Martin Cade:
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Sightings - Tuesday 6th November 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 22:06
Black Brant - 2 Ferrybridge
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 7 Ferrybridge
Brent Goose - 2120 Ferrybridge
Greater Scaup - 3 juveniles Radipole by tennis courts
Ring-necked Duck - 1CY Radipole by tennis courts
Cattle Egret - 41 Abbotsbury, 21 Swineham, behind Curlew Cottage
Great White Egret - 1 Longham Lakes, 1 Radipole
Marsh Harrier - 1 Stanpit
Hen Harrier - 1 male Milborne St Andrew
Knot - 1 Stanpit
Spotted Redshank - 1 Stanpit
Green Sandpiper - 1 Holton Lee
Water Pipit - 1 Stanpit
Black Redstart - Church Opie, Portland
Hume's Leaf Warbler - 1 Durlston, east of Castle
Dusky Warbler - 1 Portland
Firecrest - 2 Canford Heath

Green Sandpiper, Holton Lee copyright Roderick Taylor
Green Sandpiper, Holton Lee copyright Roderick Taylor
Great Crested Grebe, Hatch Pond, Poole copyright Clinton Whale
Peregrine, Bournemouth copyright David Wareham

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30 Apr 18 - A Day Trip To Cape Verde (Part 1)

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 17:00
The Atlantic Odyssey was going to be over in a couple of hours after first light. As I got arrived on deck soon after first light, we could see Praia harbour was very close. We we too close in to have much chance of any of the good Seabirds. So, there was just the chance for some initial views of Praia harbour. To be honest, it wasn't an attractive looking place. Especially, after the really interesting islands we had visited earlier in the Odyssey.
Praia harbourPraia harbourEverybody seemed to have accepted the Birding was over: Christian, Tony, Glenn, Geoff, Mike & John (left to right)
Fishing in the harbour: It looks like the number of fishermen outnumber the number of fish
Praia harbour lighthouse: This lighthouse looks like it is past its best. Later we were to discover that seems to apply to Cape Verde as well
Once the Plancius was docked, the officials were quickly onboard to sort out the passport & customs approvals. There were a number of different options for the day. There was a free Plancius organised tour of the island & a Wildwings organised tour which we had been charged for. Both of which were due to end with passengers who were staying on getting back on the Plancius around 16:00. I had arranged to stay in the same cabin, but I was moving bunks. Getting on before the new passengers would allow me to ensure this happened. For those passengers who were leaving there was a longer trip which would include looking for the Cape Verde Barn Owl in the evening. We had been told we would have a local guide for the day & the Wildwings trip was the one to book on & so had already paid our money. The Wildwings punters were quickly off the Plancius so we were on the quayside ready for our minibus to arrive. Well we didn't need to have been so keen as we were waiting for at least 45 minutes in the sun. There had been no message passed to Steve Holloway, who was leading the West African Pelagic section for Wildwings, to say when we would be ready to go.
Spanish Sparrow: There was a party of Spanish Sparrows on the quayside, but they had disappeared by the time we had the OK to disembark. This is the nominate hispaniolensis subspecies which occurs in Cape Verde, the Canaries, Madeira, Southern Europe & North AfricaWe were on the quayside: But there was no minibusMike & the PlanciusBy the time Steve & the minibus showed up, it became apparent that although it was a Wildwings trip, we would get the dubious delights of Little John & Mrs Little John. These were two of the most selfish photographers on board. Little John thought it was fine to walk in front of others & remain there so long as he get his photos. After this bad behaviour for the first few days, we had ensured that he wasn't going to be allowed close enough to us to continue to behave badly. All the Wildwings punters were ready to go, but the Little Johns were conspicuous by their absence. Surprising, as they were always pushing into the front of any zodiac landings. They finally bothered to wander off the Plancius just before the minibus arriving. Next, we learnt from Steve that there was no local guide, as the guides had been taken by the Wildwings party who were on the longer day trip & the ship organised trips. We were left with Steve's limited knowledge from a trip the day before. Somehow, we also seemed to pick up a local chancer who wanted to act as a guide. He had no idea of guiding, except for a certificate from the Arthur Daley school of guiding. Not surprisingly, he didn't contribute anything, except additional confusion about the time we ran into the Cape Verde Buzzard. Given what we now knew perhaps we should have saved our money & booked on the free ship's tour. However, I never asked what they saw so didn't find out which was the best option for Birds seen. But it wasn't a good start to the day from my viewpoint.Cape Verde Sparrow: It wasn't a totally wasted time standing on the quayside as a party of Cape Verde Sparrows were found grovelling in a weedy edge by the quayside. That was the first endemic on the listThe plan for the day was to travel to a nearby dried-up reservoir as Steve had seen Cape Verde Warblers & the distinctive Bourne's subspecies of Purple Heron there on the previous day. We were told to shout if we saw any Swifts or Birds of Prey, as they would be the endemic Alexander's Swifts, Cape Verde Buzzards or Alexander's Kestrels. The first shout was for an Alexander's Kestrel. This is one of two endemic subspecies of Kestrel, both of which have been suggested as potential future splits. Alexander's Kestrel occurs on Santiago Island & some of the other islands in the South East end of the archipelago. The other subspecies, known as Neglected Kestrel, occurs on the Northern islands. A few of the group saw one around Razo the following day, but unfortunately, I didn't hear about this sighting until it was dark & we were miles away from Razo.
Alexander's Kestrel: Male. This Alexander's Kestrel appeared smaller & darker than the British race of Kestrel & they are less sexually dimorphic. This has a streaked grey crown so it is looks like a maleAlexander's Kestrel: Male
Alexander's Kestrel: Female. Later in the afternoon we ran into this female Alexander's KestrelAlexander's Kestrel: Female. It's a distinctive subspecies, but still regarded as a subspecies of KestrelAlexander's Kestrel: Female
Santiago was a hot, arid & rugged island
There was little in the way of cultivated landAbout halfway to the reservoir, we picked up a handful of Alexander's Swifts flying along the edge of the road. The minibus was quickly stopped & allowed us to get some views of this small, pale endemic Swift. This is named after Captain Boyd Alexander (1873 - 1910) who was an African explorer & ornithologist.Alexander's Swift: They have quite a forked tail & the pale brown colouration is just about visible in this photoAlexander's Swift: As well as the small size, they looked shorter winged & tailed compare to a scarce migrant Pallid SwiftAlexander's Swift: All too quickly we were being loaded back into the minibus to get to the reservoir before it got too hot. In hindsight, we should have spent a few more minutes here to try & get some better views & photos as we had time in hand & these were the only Alexander's Swifts that I sawAlexander's Swift Brown-necked Raven: Brown-necked Ravens occur from Cape Verde across Northern Africa to Western PakistanBrown-necked Raven: This Brown-necked Raven at the same location was a bigger & slower target to try to photograph The next shout was for a large & distant Bird of Prey that looked a potential candidate for a Cape Verde Buzzard. This proved to be another frustrating incident for the day. We were near the start of a descent into a valley. A quick decision to stop should have been made to stop quickly. There were a couple of pull-ins we could have used, but the hopeless fixer said there were better places down in the valley. So due to dithering, instead of a prompt stop, the decision was left to a non Birder who had no idea why we needed to stop. The result we were in a poor position to view the Cape Verde Buzzard. While we saw it, the opportunity for better & longer views had been lost. We could have been dropped & if necessary, walked down hill to a better parking position as there wasn't a lot of traffic on the road. Obviously, it was the only Cape Verde Buzzard we saw. It left a number of us frustrated as we knew it wasn't a common species on Santiago & we needed to take advantage of any opportunity to see on. As it had dropped out of view & didn't appear to want to reappear, the decision was made to push onto the reservoir.
The initial view of the reservoirThe reservoir: I guess it was a reservoir once, but it looked in bad shape. Apparently, there hadn't been any significant rain for a couple of years
The reservoir bottomCape Verde Sparrow: It was good to see another small party of Cape Verde Sparrows on the dam walls, although they didn't hang around for long once the first people started racing across the top of the reservoirCape Verde Sparrow: The males are stunning when seen well
Initially, the reservoir looked like it would be devoid of Birds given it was dried up. However, there were a flock of Little Egrets standing around, along with a Black-winged Stilt & a roosting Common Sandpiper.Little Egrets with a lone Black-winged Stilt: It was a depressing sight given there couldn't be much food in the reservoir for them. Although I guess the Little Egrets could be using it as a roost site & feeding along the coast
What we couldn't see on the reservoir bottom were any of the distinctive Bourne's Purple Herons. These are currently treated as a subspecies of Purple Herons, but they have been split in the past. Then one was picked up flying over & landing on the far hillside. Not brilliant views, but at least we had seen one.Bourne's Purple Heron: It is surprisingly well camouflaged against the hillside & dead vegetationBourne's Purple Heron: Fortunately, it wasn't long before another individual flew overBourne's Purple HeronBourne's Purple Heron: Bourne's Purple Heron is restricted to Santiago Island on Cape Verde. There are only a couple of dozen pairs breeding on Santiago & given the recent lack of rainfall on the islands, the long-term survival of this cracking subspecies is concerningBourne's Purple Heron: A bit later another individual flew over, although it wasn't particularly closeBourne's Purple Heron: However, it circled & came around lower on the second occasionBourne's Purple Heron: The distinctive kinked neck of a Purple HeronBourne's Purple HeronBourne's Purple HeronBourne's Purple Heron: It is named after Dr William Bourne who sent an early skin to the Natural History Museum. It was only after additional specimens were collected that it was realised that it is a distinctive subspeciesBourne's Purple Heron: It looks deeper-necked than a Purple Heron in this photoBourne's Purple HeronIt had been a good start to the day on Cape Verde, but there was still the endemic Cape Verde Warbler to see.
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6 Nov 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 14:36
Broadcroft Quarry Lane, Pools, Bumpers Lane, Rufus Castle, Penns Weare, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Church and Penns Wood.

Main highlights today were a Brambling in the Pool area, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the lane and a Black Redstart at the northern end of Church Ope Cove.

Elsewhere there was a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff at the bottom of Penns Wood, 2 Buzzards over Broadcroft Quarry Butterfly Reserve, a Sparrowhawk over Bumpers Lane and 6 Rock Pipits on the beach at Church Ope Cove

A single Red Admiral was seen today, plus hundreds of wasps on the Ivy flowers and an ichneumon wasp sp.

Here are a few images from this lunchtime:

One of the 2 Buzzards over the butterfly reserve........
........and the other, with a full set of tail feathers.
Some not so brilliant photos............
..........of the Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove. In the same spot as last years bird!!
A Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove is joined by a Wren
One of the 6 Rock Pipits on the beach...........
......which have been attracted here by the million of flies which themselves have arrived because of the mass of seaweed washed up on the beach here.

Here another Rock Pipit has a cursory look at me.
I'm guessing this is normal, but is it me or have I've missed something over years. The bill on this Rock Pipit is very long!!

An ichneumon wasp sp. to ID. Seen in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
Rufus Castle and way way in the distance the lighthouse at The Bill
The rocky track down to Church Ope Cove between the cliffs.
The view looking east from the grounds of St Andrew's Church
Birds Recorded were: 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 5 Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Meadow Pipit, 6 Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, 1 Brambling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and 2 Greenfinch.

Also recorded: 1 Red Admiral, 100+ wasps and an ichneumon wasp sp.


The Tawny Owl was very vocal up until 12:40am this morning and then it went quiet. Presumably it went hunting for food.

Ships Today
This the British Type 23 Frigate HMS St Albans on Ops just off Portland. More on this vessel Here. The large ship behind is the Liberian Container Ship "YM Express", on its way from Halifax, Canada to Rotterdam, Holland. More on this vessel Here.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this day..........2017
Today's Sightings Here
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Sightings - Monday 5th November 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 22:43
Whooper Swan - 1 juvenile Hampreston Fields
Black Brant - 2 Ferrybridge
Pale-bellied Brent Goose - 4 Ferrybridge
Great Scaup - 3 Radipole by tennis courts
Ring-necked Duck - 1CY Radipole
Goldeneye - 3 drakes Poole Park Lake
Black-necked Grebe - 9+ Portland Harbour
Cattle Egret - 30+ Abbotsbury, 20 Swineham, 1 Longham
Great White Egret - 1 Longham Lakes, 1Littlesea, Studland
Marsh Harrier - 1 Stanpit
Lapwing - 300+ Priory Marsh, Stanpit
Ruff - 1 Stanpit
Yellow-legged Gull - 1 Stanpit
Woodlark - 5 Broadcroft Quarry, Portland
Water Pipit - 1 Wytch Causeway, Rempstone Heath yesterday
Black Redstart - 2 Blacknor, Portland, 1 Chesil Cove
Ring Ouzel - 1 Stonebarrow Hill, Charmouth

Cattle Egret, Abbotsbury copyright Phyl England
Black-tailed Godwits, Hengistbury Head copyright Clinton Whale
Cattle Egret, Longham Lakes copyright Lorne Bissell

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5th November

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 22:27
As a bit of a novelty for this late autumn today dawned with a veritable cacophony of grounded migrants immediately audible; the gathering light soon revealed that the fall consisted almost exclusively of Goldcrests but the 40 or more evident at the Obs represented easily the best arrival of a species that's hitherto been woefully under-represented this season. Sadly, it was also quickly evident that precious little else had dropped in, with thrushes in particular being conspicuously few and far between; a brief Yellow-browed Warbler did show up at the Obs, whilst elsewhere 5 Woodlarks at Broadcroft, a Merlin at Suckthumb and a scatter of 4 Black Redstarts were also discovered. Visible passage was largely limited to 350 Starlings and a trickle of Chaffinches passing through over the Bill. A second Black Brant joined the individual already present at Ferrybridge, with 4 Pale-bellied Brents and 10 overflying Canada Geese also of note there; nearby, Black-necked Grebes increased to 9 in Portland Harbour.

The new Black Brant and 4 Pale-bellied Brents at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders... 

...and the Chesil Cove Black Redstart © Mark Eggleton: 
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