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28th June

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 21:56
With it again rather too hot to spend long thrashing about on the land when the chances of stumbling across anything untoward aren't exactly high most of today's sightings were from the sea, with 19 Common Scoter, 9 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 commic terns and a Sandwich Tern through off the Bill; a total of 11 Swifts through overhead there looked to be purposeful movers. The only other reports were of 18 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Shelduck and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.

A Skylark still in good song at the Bill this morning © Martin Cade: 

A total of four young Wheatears fledged successfully from the breeding site at the Bill, with all now getting quite mobile...


...despite the parched and even more rock-hard than usual ground the male was still finding plenty to provision them with © Martin Cade: 
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Sightings - Thursday 28th June 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 21:06
Osprey - 1 Wareham Channel, 1 Morden Bog
Cattle Egret - 1 Arne Moors
Curlew Sandpiper - 1 Lynch Cove, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Little Ringed Plover - 4 Lytchett Fields
Green Sandpiper - 12 Lychett Fields
Common Sandpiper - 1 Lychett Fields

Hooded Crow Winspit (yesterday) copyright Steve Smith
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27 Jun 18 - An Old Friend?

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 17:43
Early evening I had a call from local Birder, Peter Williams. I don't get many calls from Peter, but generally when I do get a call it will be due to something good. So my mind was already whirling around to try & figure out what it might be in late June, with Rose-coloured Starling being the most likely candidate. Peter beat my candidate: a Hooded Crow that was sitting in his garden in Worth Matravers. He was pleased as it was a Garden Tick & he is now only a handful of species left to reach 150 species seen from the garden, with well over 100 species actually in the garden. But his house in Worth Matravers has great views down Winspit valley, which many Birders will remember as the site of the first twitchable mainland Red-flanked Bluetail. I asked if he would mind if I popped up & he said that would be fine. I stopped long enough to grab the camera & bins on the way out of the door. A few minutes later I arrived at Peter's & he opened the door saying it was still there.
Hooded Crow: It looked clean from the frontThe Hooded Crow was happily sitting in his pine tree & was visible from Peter & Yvonne's patio. Most of my photos have been taken through the patio glass. When Peter first found it, it was feeding on his lawn.
Hooded Crow: After a while it turned around confirming the upperparts also looked good for a Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow: I'm not aware of any previous records for Winspit or St AldhelmsFinally, it turned around & dropped onto the lawn to feed for few minutes. Fortunately, the patio door was open & I could carefully pop my head & camera out of the door.
Hooded Crow: A great looking individualAfter five minutes on the lawn, it returned to the Pine tree again. Unfortunately, soon after it was spotted by the local Carrion Crow which arrived & chased it off towards the East of the village. The Hooded Crow seemed slightly smaller & less bulky in flight than the Carrion Crow, but I only had a brief comparison in flight. The Carrion Crow didn't take long to return, so perhaps the Hooded Crow didn't go too far to get outside of the Carrion Crow's territory. I had a quick look in the fields immediately to the East of the village, but I couldn't see it. However, I didn't have time for a more extensive search. The big question was this the Hooded Crow that I found back on 27 Aug 17 at Ballard Down on my Studland patch. It remained around Ballard Down up until early Jan 18, but there have been no further sightings to my knowledge. So is it the same individual that had wandered about five miles further West? The Studland individual was only the fifth record for Poole Harbour & the first since 1991, so they are clearly rare in the local area. But I guess we will never know for sure.
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28 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 13:20
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

There seems to be no end to this hot sunny weather and today seemed hotter despite the north-easterly breeze. I left it bit late this morning for a walk and that was noticeable by the lack of anything of note, other than my first Small Copper of the year. Other butterflies recorded were 4 Marbled Whites, 5 Meadow Brown, 6 Ringlets, 2 Large Whites, 2 Large Skippers and 1 Speckled Wood.

I didn't see a single moth, in particular 6-spot Burnet moths. You normally see at least one on this walk.

The sound of many grasshoppers was noted, not that I saw many. What I did see were dozens of Red-tailed Cuckoo-bees that have found a field full of what I believe is Goldenrod, or something very similar.

It looks like it was even too hot for the Wall Lizards and it's been a few days since I've seen one anywhere.

Here are a few images:

Church Ope Cove on a very hot June day.
One of a few Marbled Whites seen.
Just the one Speckled Wood found in Penn's Wood, where it was few degrees cooler in the welcome shade.
I think this is Goldenrod. Whatever it is, it is very popular with the bees, especially Red-tailed Cuckoo-bees.
Categories: Blogs, Timeline, Twitter

The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 27-06-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:48
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

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

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

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

 

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

27th June

Portland Bird Observatory - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 23:00
Despite some pretty extensive coverage of the island - admittedly largely in pursuit of other natural history interest - the rewards were again very scant today, with precious little of note beyond 8 Common Scoter and 6 Mediterranean Gulls through off the Bill.

Little Tern at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:  

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Sightings - Wednesday 27th June 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 21:38
Marsh Harrier - 4 juveniles Lodmoor
Redshank - 75 Lytchett Fields
Little Ringed Plover - 4 Lytchett Fields
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields
Hooded Crow - 1 Worth Matravers/Winspit



Categories: Timeline, Twitter

27 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 18:34
Tout Quarry

On my wildlife wish list is a butterfly that I have never seen before and one that I was hoping to track down today. In fact it took me all of 8 minutes from the time I parked the car up until I found my first ever Grayling along the West Weare coast path behind Tout Quarry. And it wasn't the only one, as I came across at least 7 more along the tracks within the quarry.

Once I knew what I was looking for, it wasn't that difficult to find them. Unlike Meadow Browns and Ringlets, of which there were plenty, these Graylings were all on the tracks bar one which was on a rock. Once on the ground they then started walking. I'm not sure why they did this, but once they found the spot they wanted to be in, they positioned themselves head first towards the sun, minimising the shadow they produced.

The one I found on the rock was the only one to show both its underwings, revealing dark eye spots on the forewing. Not once though did I find one with the wings wide open. More on this butterfly Here.

It wasn't just the Graylings I recorded but also Small Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Large White, Small Heath, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Blue, Silver-studded Blue, plus a couple of other "Blue" Butterflies to ID.

Along with dozens of Six-spot Burnets I also came across a Mother Shipton moth.

I also recorded my first 5-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 5-punctata) to add to my Port and Wey list which now boasts 7-spot, 10-spot, 14-spot and 22-spot Ladybirds.

I also came across several Summer Chafers (Amphimallon solstitialis), especially along the top of the West Cliffs, dozens of Meadow Grasshoppers (Chorthippus parallelus), Swollen-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis), Common Red Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) and a Syrphus sp. hoverfly with a slight kink in its abdomen!

On the bird front I had Wheatear, 6 Swallows, a Kestrel, 2 Common Whitethroats, a family of Wrens and Greenfinches.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

My first ever Grayling.
And another.
Perseverance paid off as I found this one on a rock with the forewing raised, revealing the eye-spots.
I had real difficulty photographing Ringlets today, there was always a piece of grass......
......or a leaf in the way.
And when I did get one it was in the shade.
Lots of Meadow Browns on the wing.
A lot smaller than a Meadow Brown, this is a Small Heath.
And another.
Good numbers of Marbled Whites in the quarry........
........and along the West Cliffs.
Just the one Painted Lady.
Just 2 Red Admirals here.
A male Large Skipper
And another.
And a female Large Skipper. 
A tatty "Blue" Butterfly
As above.
And another "Blue" Butterfly
As above.
A Silver-studded Blue.....
......and another.
A Six-spot Burnet Moth. Certainly plenty of these along the cliff top.
And another.
Lots of these in the long grass a Meadow Grasshopper, Chorthippus parallelus
Wherever you travel on Portland you will come across a Swollen-thighed Beetle. They are very abundant.
Common Red Soldier Beetle, Rhagonycha fulva on an umbellifer.
My first 5-spot Ladybird.
A very numerous bee along this stretch the Red-tailed Cuckoo-bee, Bombus rupestris
A Syrphus sp. hoverfly, with a slight kink in its abdomen!
Pyramidal orchids, Anacamptis pyramidalis
A distinctive looking Orchid and fairly widespread on Portland.
Another new plant for me......
........and what a beautiful flowering plant it is............
....... this is Common Centaur (Centaurium erythraea). More on this plant Here.
A Greenfich
And a Wren with food for its youngsters.
Looking back along the West Cliff
Tout Quarry
Tout Quarry and "Still Falling" carved in the rock wall.
More on "Still Falling" Here
I found another carving of a face, which I couldn't find reference to. Perhaps its new.
Categories: Blogs, Timeline, Twitter

13 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Sixteen: Blue Whale

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 12:00
It had been a mixed day so far. First there was the disappointment with not being able to get a landing or even a zodiac cruise around Nightingale Island & Inaccessible Island: the two offshore islands of the Tristan da Cunha group. This was followed by some good Seabirds as we left Tristan da Cunha including the chance to get some photos of White-bellied Storm-petrels. Later that afternoon we had a magical, prolonged encounter with a pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins in excellent light. The afternoon quietened down & many people disappeared down to the observation lounge towards the late afternoon. I suspect there had been an announcement of a late afternoon happy hour drinks. There were only a few of us were left on the bridge wing, when 20 minutes before last reasonable light, Josh Beck picked up a close diving Whale. It appeared very soon after & this time, Hans who was one of the Expedition team got onto it & immediately identified it as an 95% Blue Whale. Again it dived before I got onto it. The pressure had now increased as seeing a Blue Whale was one of my top targets for the Odyssey. Hans dived into the bridge & asked for the Plancius to be stopped. Fortunately, it reappeared & this time I got onto it. It was close & very big. Hans had also seen it again & happy it was a Blue Whale, he put out an announcement on the Plancius's tannoy: which resulted on people pouring out onto all decks.
Blue Whale: A blurry photo after my initial view. They have a small dorsal fin, especially considering how big they are
Although it was one of my top targets for the Odyssey, I knew that the chances of seeing a Blue Whale were not very high. In the reports I had seen they had only been seen in three out of seven years. What I had forgotten was in two of those years they were seen around South Georgia & in the third it was somewhere on the journey from South Georgia to Tristan da Cunha. So we had already passed through the best waters. There had already been a brief sighting on the 7 April about halfway between South Georgia & Tristan da Cunha, but I hadn't see that. So we were really lucky to have encountered this individual. Especially as it was further North than on the previous successful Odyssey trips. It was later identified as an immature Blue Whale of the Antarctic population (B. musculus intermedia). It seemed quite curious about us & perhaps that's why it hung around the Plancius for the last fifteen minutes of light. It is a pity we hadn't seen it earlier in the afternoon when the light was better, but nobody was complaining.Blue Whale underwater: It's not easy to see on this photo, but there is a paler turquoise colour to the sea across the middle (horizontal) part of this photo: this is the Blue Whale. It was clearer to see in real life, than this photo suggests. This colouration allowed us to watch its movements underwater when it went into a shallow dive. I was confused as when the Blue Whale surfaced, it looked medium grey, but underwater it appeared to be this pale turquoise colour. I was later told that was down to us being able to see the real colour of the first few meters of sea, without any of the darkness of the deeper sea coming through & so we were actually seeing the sea above it, rather than the Blue WhaleThe next time it surfaced was very close to the Plancius. I quickly pulled the 100-400mm into so I would have more chance of fitting it into the picture. Looking at the photos as I write this Post, I was using an 135mm lens & the exposed parts of the Blue Whale didn't fit into the photo, even allowing for only about half of its body was on view above the water. That's the combination of the largest animal every known to science & how close it was.
Blue Whale: This photo shows the large head, the protective ridge either side of the blow hole & part of the long backBlue Whale: Starting a gentle blowBlue Whale: Clearly a gentle blow as a strong blow can form a column up to 12 metres highBlue Whale: This gentle blow quickly disperses. To me, this shows how difficult to try identifying Whales on their blow alone, as I don't this wouldn't have been possible to identify as a Blue Whale at a distance on this blowBlue Whale: The blow was quickly over
Blue Whale: As its head dipped below the surface, we were able to see more of the back. There were a lot of blotchy diatom markings on it caused by algae blooms on the skin (similar to the diatoms markings we saw on the Strap-toothed Beaked Whale). Blue Whales are the only large Whale that shows these diatoms
Blue Whale: The back is so long that we didn't see the dorsal fin before it dived
Blue Whale: A better view of the central back & the dorsal fin It surfaced on several more occasions, The light was poor & getting worse by the minute and consequently, the photos were not as good as earlier in the encounter. This Blue Whale certainly helped to make up for the disappointments with the lack of landings or zodiac cruises at Nightingale & Inaccessible Islands.
Categories: Blogs, Timeline, Twitter

The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 26-06-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 08:39
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

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

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

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

 

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

26th June

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 22:23
Very hot and very quiet again today, with nothing much more to report on the bird front than 9 Mediterranean Gulls through off the Bill.

Although moth immigration remains at a standstill a few dispersers continue to show up, including singles of Bird-cherry Ermine, True Lovers Knot and Green Silver-lines caught overnight at the Obs.

Although there's long been a resident bull Grey Seal off the island's shoreline for the last couple of days two 'extra' Grey Seals have been about at the Bill - both were hauled out on the rocks at the Bill tip this morning © Mike Lockyear:  

Categories: Timeline, Twitter

Sightings - Tuesday 26th June 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:47
Whooper Swan - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Osprey - 2 Wareham Channel
Great White Egret - 1 flying towards Middlebere
Little Ringed Plover - 5 Lytchett Fields
Black-tailed Godwit - 156 Lytchett Fields
Roseate Tern - 1 Portland Harbour
Sandwich Tern Brownsea Island lagoon copyright Clinton WhaleSandwich Tern Brownsea Island lagoon copyright Clinton Whale
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26 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:09
Wakeham

Another glorious day here on Portland and in the back garden there were 2 Large Whites and a Painted Lady on the Valerian. On the Purple Loosestrife a Red-tailed Cuckoo-bee and elsewhere around the garden a few Swollen-thighed Beetles and several Marmalade Hoverflies.

The cherries on the tree are going down a treat and both a juvenile Blackbird and a Wood Pigeon were having a real feast.

And on the feeders an adult male and juvenile Greenfinch feeding on the Sunflower Seeds.

And finally some late news, as Dawn was coming home from work late last night, she stopped to let a Hedgehog cross the road at the junction of Victoria and Castle Road. Such a rare sight nowadays.

Here are a few images of the Painted Lady.





Categories: Blogs, Timeline, Twitter

26th June

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 10:51
Hardly worth a report today with precious little new showing up in the continuing settled, fine conditions. Twelve Dunlin and singles of Mediterranean Gull and Wheatear were at Ferrybridge and 6 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Black-headed Gull were off the Bill.

At least 3 Harbour Porpoises were off the Bill during the morning.

We haven't checked the date but it must be getting on for 20 years since Wheatear last bred successfully at the Bill so it's pleasing to report the first sighting of fledged young from the pair that have been in residence there this year © Erin Taylor: 

Categories: Timeline, Twitter

The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 25-06-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 08:25
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

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

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

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

 

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

25 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 22:24
Broadcroft Quarry Butterfly Reserve

There seems to be no end to this incredibly hot and sunny weather, and this afternoon I took a walk to the Broadcroft Quarry Butterfly Reserve here and an excellent patch on the opposite side of the the lane here.

Very few birds about with just 2 Common Buzzards over and a Common Whitethroat scolding me as I got to close to a Gorse Bush.

There were good numbers of butterflies on the wing with dozens of Marbled WhitesMeadow Browns and Ringlets. There seemed to be a bit of a population explosion of Marbled Whites, they were everywhere.

Other butterflies about included 2 Small Heaths, 5 Speckled Woods, 4 Common Blues, several Large Skippers and my first Gatekeeper of the year. The star must go to what I believe is a Silver Studded Blue. I hope so as this would be my first on Portland.

On the moth front there were dozens of Six-spot Burnet moths on the wing, a Mother Shipton and lots of Twin-barred Knot-horns.

Lots of busy bees about with Common Carder Bees and Red-tailed Cuckoo-bees out in good numbers.

Other invertebrates seen included Swollen-thighed Beetles (Oedemera nobilis), Common Red Soldier Beetles (aka Hogweed Bonking Beetle, Rhagonycha fulva), Mimic Bee Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans), an Ichneumon Wasp (Ichneumon sarcitorius) and a female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum).

There were many Pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) in flower and as always I came across another flower to ID.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

One of two Common Buzzards over the island this afternoon.
A very pale individual.
It was good day for butterflies and especially Marbled Whites.
And the Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)..........
.........seemed to be the chosen plant to feed on today.
My first Gatekeeper of the year.
A Ringlet.
Large Skipper
A Common Blue
I hope I've got this one right a male Silver Studded Blue, but are those underwing markings right for a SSB!
Six-spot Burnet moth.
and another.
A Mimic Bee Hoverfly, Volucella bombylans.......
.........and another.
Ichneumon sarcitorius
Common Red Soldier Beetles
Can you spot it!!

A female Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum.
This is only the second one I have seen Portland. And the first one was a female as well.
The view looking south towards Bumpers Lane.
Pyramidal orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis
A distinctive looking Orchid and fairly widespread on Portland.
I have no idea what plant this is..........
......the flowers look like mallow, but the leaves suggest something else.
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Sightings - Monday 25th June 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 21:49
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit Marsh.
Red Kite - 1 over Broadstone.
Herring Gull - 1000+ off Portland Bill attracted by Whitebait.
Roseate Tern - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery.
Rose-ringed Parakeet - 2 Broadstone.
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

15 Jun 18 - A Risso's In Plymouth

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 18:00
On Mon 11 June, I saw an interesting tweet from my old mate, Pete Aley, that he had found a Risso's Dolphin in Plymouth from the Torpoint ferry. This is a car & passenger ferry between Torpoint on the West side of the River Tamar & the South Western corner of Plymouth. Having never seen a Risso's Dolphin in UK waters, then I was keen to give it a go. However, as it was around 17:30 & I wouldn't have been able to get there before 20:00, I decided that dashing straight down probably wasn't the best policy. I had a quick chat with Pete with a request to give me a shout if it was seen the following morning. Sadly, there was no news the following morning, but it was seen late afternoon again. So again there wasn't much of a chance of dashing down, but at least it had been seen again. I kept an eye on news from Plymouth as the week progressed. Pete saw it again on Weds in the late afternoon & there was also an afternoon sighting on the following day. I had a free day on the Friday, so an afternoon visit seemed the best option. Pete was around in the afternoon, so I arranged to pick him up early afternoon, before we headed across on the ferry to Torpoint as most of the occasional sightings were being seen on that side of the river. This wasn't surprising as the large Devonport dockyard occupied a large part of the waterfront on the Plymouth side to the North of the ferry. But there were some viewpoints from Torpoint's waterfront streets on the Cornish side of the river. It didn't take long from Pete's house to get to the ferry, where there was a nice view of the Devonport dockyard. Having worked with the Royal Navy in my first couple of jobs, then I'm always keen to see naval ships.
HMS Kent (F78): Type 23 Frigate
HMS Somerset (F82): Type 23 Frigate
HMS Argyll (F231): Type 23 Frigate
HMS Talent: Trafalgar Class submarine. We were looking for something a lot smaller that could dive under waterThe first place we tried was Marine Drive in Torpoint which gives a nice view over a side bay to the Tamar known as St John's Lake (although it is an estuarine channel). The tide was relatively low & it wasn't ideal. After a while Pete suggested we tried another viewpoint further upriver at Wilcove which overlooks the deep channel at the Northern end of Devonport close to where the River Lynher joins the Tamar. It had been seen in this area on one occasion during the week. This area looked good, but after an hour of looking we had had no joy.
German Navy FGS Augsbury (F213): Type 122 Frigate
PHeM Atlantico (A140): Formally HMS Ocean which has been sold by the MoD to the Brazilian Navy as one of the many defence cuts the Tories made to try balancing budgets so they could continue to cut taxes for their mates. It is currently being recommissioned & is expected to be handed over to the Brazilian Navy by the end of 2018
As the tide was now rapidly coming in, I suggested to Pete we returned to Marine Drive as there should be more water there now & the Risso's Dolphin had been seen from there on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, there was a lot more water in St John's Lake & we settled down on a bench to scan the area. After about five minutes of scanning, I picked up a tall fin which briefly appeared 200-300 metres straight out in the side channel. Given the shape & height of the fin it was clearly a Risso's Dolphin. The couple of prolonged periods of watching Risso's Dolphins on the Atlantic Odyssey in the last few weeks had been really helpful in getting used to their features.Risso's Dolphin: Unfortunately, it wasn't close
Risso's Dolphin: It was a tall fin
Risso's Dolphin: More of the rear body appears as it starts to dive
Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin: It is very graceful as it dives
Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin: That's it for another five minutes
There were two groups of barges tied up in the side channel & it was between these two groups, but it quickly disappeared before Pete got onto it. I nipped back to the car to grab the telescope hoping to get some better views. The next time I picked it up it had moved about 100 metres to the right & was near a pale yellow buoy. This time it was up long enough for Pete to get onto it & for me to grab some quick photos. It then disappeared for another five minutes before I finally picked it up back near the barges. A few more photos before it dropped below the surface. I picked it up for the final sighting after another five minutes, when it reappeared back near the pale yellow buoy. This was a bit closer & the chance for some better photos. However, it was never really close for decent photos. Clearly, all the practice at Cetacean watching from the Plancius has paid off.
Risso's Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin: The grey colouration & the pale scaring is typical for Risso's Dolphins. The scaring is believed to be caused by the beaks & suckers of Squid: their main food. However, scars may also be due to the teeth of other Risso's Dolphins
Risso's Dolphin
I thought the identification as a Risso's Dolphin was straight-forward. However, since I saw it there have been Cetacean sightings from other members of the public in the Plymouth area with reports of an Orca being present in the Plymouth area. I have seen a still photo of one of these reports & feel confident that was the Risso's Dolphin. I've also seen a very shaky video which I'm struggling to identify. I've also forwarded one of my photos to Marijke de Boer who was one of the Expedition guides on the Atlantic Odyssey & was one of the Cetacean experts on the Plancius. Marijke has spent a fair bit of time studying Risso's Dolphins & working on Cetaceans in the South West. She has confirmed we saw a Risso's Dolphin. I've subsequently forwarded some of the other photos to Marijke, in case it can be identified to a known individual by the Penzance Dolphin team. I will update the Blog if there is any news on this in the next few weeks.
Risso's Dolphin: A couple of final photos & it was gone
Risso's DolphinWe carried on looking for at least another 30 minutes but it didn't reappear. There are quite a few moored boats in the side channel so we weren't sure if it had surfaced close to one of those boats & we had missed it. Given it didn't appear to be in the side channel any more, we walked back to the ferry & viewed from there for a few minutes in case it had decided to carry on up towards the dockyard. Again, we had no joy. Finally, we returned to Wilcove & had a quick look from there. We checked with the couple who were still fishing there & they hadn't notice the Risso's Dolphin swimming up the channel. It was early evening now & it seemed a good point to give up, although we had a final scan from the ferry. It had been a successful afternoon.
Time for a celebratory drink & meal with Pete & his wife Ali: It had been a good afternoon & it was good to catch up with two old friends
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24th June

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:57
A potential Portland rarity today with a report of a brief Cirl Bunting during the afternoon in Top Fields - a decent hunt for it later revealed no further sign. Yet another late Reed Warbler was in song at the Bill but the only other new migrant on the land - a Willow Warbler - was certainly heading in the other direction. The other reports were all from the sea, with 45 Common Scoter, 6 Mediterranean Gulls, 6 Sandwich Terns, 6 commic terns, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Black-headed Gull through off the Bill.

A hint of a little more dispersal overnight, including singles of White Satin at Sweethill and Reap Lane and Barred Red at Sweethill.

Today's Willow Warbler - a female with a brood patch that had presumably failed in its breeding attempt somewhere up-country - was in a right shoddy state; with it already having begun its complete moult it's hard to believe that it would be attempting a Channel crossing right now so perhaps it'll linger about © Martin Cade: 

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