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Sightings - Monday 10th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 22:25
Great White Egret - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Cattle Egret - 3 Ogber, 1 possibly 2 Radipole
Spoonbill - 1 Brownsea
Marsh Harrier - 1 Wick, 1 Holton Lee
Osprey - 1 Middlebere, 1 Holton Lee
Sanderling - 1 Stanpit
Knot - 1 Ferrybridge
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields, 1 Stanpit
Curlew Sandpiper - 2 Brownsea
Mediterranean Gull - 1 leucistic individual Radipole
Grasshopper Warbler - 1 Durlston

                                          Cattle Egret, Radipole copyright David Wareham

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10th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 21:50
After such an abject weekend today's most minor of pulses of passage hinted at a corner being turned  - although the buffeting southwesterly that had set in by the evening will just as likely return things to square one! A selection of the commonest migrants managed double figure totals at the Bill where it was Grey Wagtail (25 through overhead) that staged the strongest showing; 3 White Wagtails and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were as good as it got for less frequent visitors there, with a single Knot the best of the waders at Ferrybridge. The freshening breeze saw another 20 Balearic Shearwaters pass through off the Bill.
This Knot in its crisp juvenile plumage amongst the Turnstones at Ferrybridge provided some much need variety for the day © Debby Saunders

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10 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 20:27
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Its definitely getting cooler and that brisk southerly wind wasn't helping. A few warblers about with Willow Warbler and Blackcap along Penn's Weare. There was a posse of gulls following one of the fishing boats as it headed back towards Weymouth and a Peregrine Falcon was the only other bird of interest.

No butterflies about, very few hoverflies though I did get a Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea) and just a handful of Common Wasps on the flowering Ivy.

In Penns wood the usual Harlequin Ladybirds in the nettle patch at the top of the slope and also a few new ones just under the Lime tree before the main road.

Here are a few images from this evening.

A Dead Head Hoverfly
And a Garden Spider (Araneus Diadematus)
One of the Harlequin Ladybirds in Penn's Wood.
And another.
This the larvae of the Harlequin Ladybird
And another.
A bit of a mixture but Blackberries and Honeysuckle.
As we walked along the Southwest coast path a T9 Spitfire did an "attack" run up over Penns Weare towards Weymouth Bay. I'm pretty sure this is "Classic Wings" and will set you back £2750 for a ride. More on this iconic aircraft Here.

Just managed a quick but sadly short video of the Spitfire.
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Sightings - Sunday 9th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Sun, 09/09/2018 - 21:46
Balearic Shearwater - 14 Portland Bill
Great White Egret - 2 Radipole RSPB, 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit Marsh
Osprey - 1 Piddle Valley Swineham
Ruff - 2 Lodmoor
Curlew Sandpiper - 3 Brownsea Is, 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Great Skua - 1 Portland Bill
Little Gull - 1juvenile Ferrybridge
Caspian Gull - 1 juvenile Lodmoor RSPB
Firecrest - 3 Brownsea Is near Castle.
Yellow Wagtail - 30 Piddle Valley Swineham

Juvenile Caspian Gull - Lodmoor RSPB © Edmund Mackrill

Juvenile Great Crested Grebe - Longham Lakes © Roger Peart
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9th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Sun, 09/09/2018 - 20:18
Today did not merit a blog post. Migration well and truly ground to a halt. With just a small handful of commoner migrants we were left to scrabble around for a morsel of entertainment, thankfully Ferrybridge produced the days saving grace of a stunning juvenile Little Gull, otherwise 14 Balearic Shearwaters and a Bonxie were the only birds of note.

Nick Hopper has once again provided us with a snapshot of the wonders of night time migration from the night of 5th/6th September. Although the skies were clear that night there was still an interesting mix with the highlight of an over-land Common Scoter, which was joined by: Short-eared Owl, Golden Plover, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel (flock), Ringed Plover (flocks), 5 Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Robins, 84 Yellow Wagtail calls and 71 Tree Pipit Calls.

Many thanks to Pete and Debby for saving the day bird-wise, the Little Gull was accompanied by three Sandwich Terns © Pete Saunders:

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9 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Sun, 09/09/2018 - 16:05
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

A very blustery but sunny day here on Portland. Main highlights were 3 Mimic Hornet Hoverflies on the buddleia in the grounds of St Andrew's Church, where there was also a Sand Wasp Ectemnius sexcinctus. Another good highlight was a Small Copper in Penn's Weare.

Also recorded several Dark Bush-crickets (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) chirping away and both Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) & Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus).

Just the 2 Wall Lizards in  the grounds of St Andrew's Church and 3 Harlequin Ladybirds in Penn's Wood.

Here are a few images from this afternoon.

A Small Copper in Penn's Weare
Also here plenty of Common Drone Flies on the flowering Ivy.
One of the many grasshoppers along Penn's Weare.
A Wall Lizard
A Mimic Hornet Hoverfly..............
........and another Volucella zonaria.
Ectemnius sexcinctus Sand Wasp.
One of the three Harlequin ladybirds at the top of Penn's wood

The Fleet

A quick visit to The Fleet to sell one our tenders. On the bund 3 Linnets.

The Fleet this morning
And a Linnet looks on from........... of the tenders on the bund.
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8 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 23:00
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

I left it a bit late this evening for a walk and consequently there was very little to write about. The only insect I could find and photograph was a Harlequin Ladybird and a larvae at the top of Penns Wood. Both of which were in the same patch of stinging nettles as yesterday.

Here are a couple of photos from this evening.

Seems that Harlequin Ladybirds are pretty happy to stay in one location. This adult.......
.........and this larvae were in the same spot as yesterday.
Ships Today
The first two ships here are classed as having Hazard A (Major) goods on board.

This is the Liberian Container Ship the YM Express, on its way from Halifax, Canada to Rotterdam, Holland. More on this vessel Here.

This the Maltese Container Ship the Shanghai Trader on its way from Savannah, USA to Le Havre, France. More on this Cargo Vessel Here.

This is the French Cargo vessel the MN Pelican, on its way from Poole to Bilbao, Spain. More on this Ro-Ro Cargo vessel Here.
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8th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 22:37
Conventional wisdom would have it that an early September mix of a gentle southwesterly, a party overcast sky and the New Moon period would be a perfect combination for a rewarding birding day at Portland but in the event they delivered up another shocker, with routine passage on the ground, overhead and on the sea reduced to the merest of trickles. Seasonable fare of the likes of Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Blackcap and Willow Warbler all just managed to scrape into double figures at the Bill, where a lone Merlin constituted the only minor less frequent interest on the land and just 2 Balearic Shearwaters passed by on the sea.

As a reminder of the sort of volume of passage that ought to be a feature at the moment we'll skip back to earlier in the week when Nick Hopper sampled nocturnal passage for us on Tuesday night (4th/5th September):
'It was really busy night, predominated unusually by Yellow Wagtail calls with regular waves of birds through the night, often accompanied by Tree Pipits; in total 507 Yellow Wagtail calls were logged along with 212 Tree Pipit calls.
Other highlights were a flock of Arctic Tern passing overland and another Ortolan. Waders were very well represented with 3 flocks of Knot, a small party of Green Sandpiper including a bird attempting to sing, 3 Greenshank, 4 Redshank, 2 Whimbrel, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover flocks.
Also, Short-eared Owl, alba Wagtail, Robin 6, Pied Flycatcher 2 and the first Blackbird calls of the autumn.'

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Sightings - Saturday 8th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 20:32
Bittern - 1 Radipole Lake RSPB
Cattle Egret - 2 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 2 Coward's Marsh, 2 Stanpit Marsh
Great White Egret - 2 Lodmoor, 1 Radipole Lake RSPB, 1 Arne RSPB, 1 Lytchett Bay
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit
Osprey - 1 Lytchett Bay, 1 Coombe Arne RSPB
Marsh Harrier - 1 Holton Lee
Ruff - 1 Lodmoor RSPB, 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Curlew Sandpiper - 3 Brownsea Is, 1 Lodmoor RSPB, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Hobby - 4 Verwood
Whitethroat - 9 Ringstead, 5 St Aldhelm's Hd, 3 Stanpit Marsh, 2+ Sunnyside Fm
Redstart - 3 Sunnyside Fm, 2 Portland Bill, 1 Ringstead
Whinchat - 2 Sunnyside Fm, 2 St Aldhelm's Hd. 2 Abbotsbury Swannery
Yellow Wagtail - 18 Portland Bill, 8+ Sunnyside Fm. 7+ St Aldhelm's Hd.
Grey Wagtail - 7 Portland Bill, 2 Ringstead

Avocet over Poole Harbour © Nick Hull

Spoonbill Poole Harbour © Nick Hull
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18 Aug 18 - St Helenan Band-rumped Storm-petrel

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 17:00
One of the main Bird targets for St Helena was to see & photograph some of the local population of Band-rumped storm-petrels. Band-rumped Storm-petrel taxonomy is complex. A few years ago, Band-rumped Storm-petrels were understood to breed on islands in the Tropical Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, including the Portuguese Berlengas Islands, Madeira, Canaries, Azores, Cape Verde, Ascension Island, St Helena, as well as, the Galapagos, Hawaii & islands belonging to Japan. In the last decade, studies into the breeding times of year, DNA, vocalisation & morphology have identified that there are probably three additional species which breed on the Tropical North Atlantic islands. Studies of the Band-rumped Storm-petrels which breed on Ascension Island & St Helena are only just starting, but there must be a reasonable chance of additional splits of these populations once these studies have been completed.
Heading for South West PointA few days before we arrived at St Helena, the staff gave us the options for various tours around the island. One of the trips was a chance to visit a Band-rumped Storm-petrel colony in a small boat that could take about 20 people. I expected we would have already seen Band-rumped Storm-petrels from the Plancius & this was indeed the case. I saw eight Band-rumped Storm-petrels as we approached St Helena which were presumed to have been from the St Helena population given they were within 200 nautical miles of the island. Additionally, there had been a few seen flying past our mooring position in Jamestown Bay, but these weren't close. But by this time, I had already booked & paid for a boat trip out to the Band-rumped Storm-petrel colonies on Speery Island on the first & second afternoons. In the end, I saw so much on the first afternoon trip that that I decided to cancel the second afternoon. Room on the boat was tight & I thought I would explore more of Jamestown, whilst allowing others to enjoy the boat trip. When we got on board everybody grabbed seats at the back. I suggested to Glenn that we stay by the doors by the main cabin. No sooner than the boat had left the Plancius, then two of the Expedition staff, Martin & Christophe asked if we could stand in front of the cabin. Glenn & I were well positioned to join them, which was a good move as realistically there was only room for the four of us at the front & it looked like it would give us the best viewing position. Two or three others took up places on the side of the boat, but they weren't as well placed as us. After we returned to the Plancius, there were a few people complaining about the viewing options from the back deck, so we had chosen our position well. Another reason for not going on the second afternoon was word would have been around the Plancius that the best place was where we had been standing & it would have reduced my chances of getting this decent position again.
Glenn, Martin & myself with Filiep in the background (From right to left): Christophe took the photo before returning to stand next to Glenn
Although it was a good position for viewing, it was particularly bouncy in the seas once we reached South West Point, the imaginatively named South Western corner of St Helena. The seas were just as bouncy around the main colony of Speery Island. I ended up wedging one foot on a rope mooring point on the deck & the other one one of the wire guards on the side of the boat. For most of the next three hours, I wasn't able to change position, but it meant I was had a good stable position. This was really important as twice Martin (who was next to me) lost his footing & if I hadn't been wedged in, then I might of ended up going flying.
The St Helena coastline
It got quite rough as we reached South West Point  I expected to see some Band-rumped Storm-petrels from the boat. What I hadn't expected that the main colony at the Speery Island had good numbers of Band-rumped Storm-petrels flying around the island during the daytime. I saw at least 500 Band-tailed Storm-petrels during the afternoon. There were also smaller numbers around Egg Island, about half way to Speery Island. Clearly, there are no avian predators to worry them. Probably the majority of Storm-petrel species in the world are only able to visit the breeding islands when it is dark, so it was a real privilege to be able to see them in the day time. Sperry Island must be around 40 metres high & so the Band-rumped Storm-petrels are generally not close. They are certainly not easy to photograph from a small boat that is rolling & pitching hard & generally all I could hope was they wouldn't be too far from the rocks behind which the camera was locking onto. It wasn't realistic to hope the camera focus would lock onto the Band-rumped Storm-petrel, unless they were against the sky. Given how few people get to see the St Helenan population of Band-rumped Storm-petrels then I've published plenty of photos in this Blog Post.
Band-rumped Storm-petrel: They are a dark Storm-petrel with the pale wing band across the secondaries to the wing bend & a noticeable white rumpBand-rumped Storm-petrel: This photo was taken immediately after the last photo, but the tail now looks more forkedBand-rumped Storm-petrel: The wing tips are pointed with dark underwings & with the white rump extending well down the sides of the rump
Band-rumped Storm-petrel: With the light catching it, it was possible to see more colouration on this second individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: There is even a line of very pale tips to the primary coverts on a second photo of the second individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A final photo of the second individual & it now looks far more typical as the lighting chancesBand-rumped Storm-petrel: This third individual came a bit closer & produced the best photosBand-rumped Storm-petrel: The last two photos show the subtle differences in the underwing pattern when well lit & the extend of the white on the sides of the rump
Band-rumped Storm-petrel: The final photo of the third individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: The fourth individual
Finally, after a good hour of travelling we reached Speery Island.Approaching Speery Island: It looks fairly calm in this photo, but it was a lot bouncier in our small boat
The sea was very impressive at the far end of Speery Island: At times, the difference in water levels on each side of the island was over a metre
Another view looking back on the same gap at the base of Speery IslandBand-rumped Storm-petrel: There were hundreds of Band-tailed Storm-petrels flying around Speery Island & presumably some were landing to feed the youngstersBand-rumped Storm-petrel: Speery Islamd is a barren rock, but being offshore it won't have any of the mammalian predators that are likely to be on the cliffs of the main islandBand-rumped Storm-petrel: These two individuals flying against the rock are very well camouflaged against the guano-stained rocksBand-rumped Storm-petrel: The eighth individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: Another photo of the eighth individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A ninth individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A harsh crop of the ninth individual's head shows the tube noseBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A rear on view of the tenth individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: The eleventh individualBand-rumped Storm-petrel: This view of the twelfth individual would make a good mystery species photo in the futureThere were large numbers of Band-rumped Storm-petrels flying around the top of Egg Island which we had a good look at on the way back to Jamestown. From a distance they looked more like an Asian Swiftlet species which I've seen flying around cliffs & buildings in the past. But of course, once looked at with bins it was clear they were Storm-petrels flying around the breeding site in the day time.Egg Island was obviously fortified in the Napoleonic past: It must have been grim being based on this inhospitable rockA few plants were trying to establish themselves on Egg IslandAnother plant on Egg Island Band-rumped Storm-petrel: Five individuals were flying around the top of the rock stack in this photoBand-rumped Storm-petrelBand-rumped Storm-petrelBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A number of the individuals were callingBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A close up of the left-hand individualBand-rumped Storm-petrelBand-rumped Storm-petrel: A final close up of the right-hand individual. It's not often you get to see a Storm-petrel species from underneath
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Sightings - Friday 7th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 21:55
Balearic Shearwater - 131 Portland Bill
Great White Egret - 1 Radipole Lake
Spoonbill - 13 Shipstal Arne, 5 Brownsea Is, 1 Stanpit Marsh
Osprey - 1 Middlebere, 1 Lytchett Bay
Whimbrel - 4 Stanpit March, 1 Middlebere
Knot - 14 Middlebere
Curlew Sandpiper - 1 Middlebere
Little Stint - 1 Brownsea Is.
Common Sandpiper 1 Stanpit Marsh
Spotted Redshank - 2 Brownsea Is, 1 Stanpit Marsh, 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Merlin - 1 Ferrybridge
Hobby - 1 Forston
Whitethroat - 11 Christchurch Hbr.
Wood Warbler - 1 Portland Bill
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 Portland Bill
Whinchat - 2 Christchurch Hbr.
Yellow Wagatil - 11 Christchurch Hbr.

Dunlin & Ringed Plover - Hengistbury Hd,© Clinton Whale

Sanderling - Hengistbury Hd © Clinton Whale

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7th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 21:26
A reasonably uneventful day with a couple of nice highlights. The day started crisp and clear with very little noticeable migration, thankfully a mystery Phyllosc came to add a little excitement. This later transpired into one of our days highlight as a Wood Warbler was trapped in the final net round of the day. The second highlight came from a sea watch total of 131 Balearic Shearwaters, an unusually high count for the North-westerly winds we experienced throughout the day. Besides these, a handful of common migrants were all we had to offer including: 18 Yellow Wagtails, 7 Grey Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 2 Redstarts, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, 12 Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Golden Plover.

Elsewhere on the island, both Blacknor and Ferrybridge were the sites of fly-by Merlins. Other records at Ferrybridge included: 2 Mute Swans, 30 Ringed Plover, 17 Dunlin, 14 Turnstone and 30 Oystercatchers.

As migration ground slowly onwards today, our guests took to photographing some of the commoner species such as the resident Ravens and the obliging Spotted Flycatchers. This hoverfly, found by the obs quarry has been identified as Chrysotoxum cautum (Large Wasp-hoverfly) and possibly represents the second ever record for Portland, although this is likely due to under recording ©Simon Colenutt

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7 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 20:28
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church, Pennsylvania Castle Wood and Wakeham

A lovely sunny evening and despite the fresh south-easterly wind it was a nice walk down to Rufus Castle and up to Penn's Wood.

It was quite late in the day, so not a great deal about. Just the one Speckled Wood, this time along the South-west Coast Path. No Wall Lizards, the shadows put paid to that as the sun shifted around to the west, but the Ivy bush in Penn's Weare was alive again with bees, wasps and hoverflies, with at least 5 Dead Head Flies (Myathropa florea) counted. In Penn's Wood a Harlequin ladybird and larvae.

In Wakeham there were 8 House Martins making their way down towards the Bill, whilst in the back garden a Willow Warbler again.

Here are a few Images:

Just the one Speckled Wood today. The only butterfly seen this evening.
One of the Harlequin Ladybirds inhabiting Penn's Wood
And a Harlequin Ladybird larvae........
.......and a very mobile one at that.
Amazing to note that it's actually bigger than the adult.
And a caterpillar on a Lime Tree to ID.
Ships Today
This is the British tug MTS Indus pulling a barge from Falmouth to an unknown destination.
More on this Tug Here
The barge that MTS Indus is pulling looks like boulders. Perhaps for beach defences! Not sure what the big boat is in the distance.
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2 Sep 18 - Painted Lady

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 18:00
Given how few Painted Ladies there seems to have been around this Summer & Autumn, it was good to bump into three today, including this freshly emerged individual. This must have breed locally. I only saw the other two in flight, but presume they had also recently emerged.
Painted Lady
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Blog Post: September 2018 RSPB Radipole Lake Update

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 17:15
There is an distinctly autumn chill in the air now as the summer starts turning into autumn.  Great White Egrets are still being seen daily at Radipole Lake and over on Lodmoor, often three birds are sighted. RSPB volunteer, Martin Jones-Gill, managed to snap this one taking off outside the Discovery Centre. Other notable sightings include a Spotted Redshank seen at Lodmoor on 28th August. Yellow Wagtails are regularly being seen with c.160 counted on Lodmoor on 2nd September. On Wednesday 5th September over 150 House Martins and over 80 Swallows were counted at Radipole Lake no doubt preparing to leave for sunnier climates,  a Yellow Legged Gull was also noted.  A Bittern was sighted on Radipole Lake on Thursday 6th September and a Wryneck reported on Lodmoor on 7th September. Kingfisher Day Another bird being sighted at the moment is the Kingfisher, which is good news for the upcoming Kingfisher Day at Radipole Lake on Saturday 15th September.  Adults birds arrive back from their riverside nest-sites and are often accompanied by this year's young. Volunteers will be out and about on the reserve looking out for the birds, it can be really easy to get good views of these iconic beauties.  There will be Kingfisher crafts for kids in the Discovery Centre, pond dipping and of course the chance to see one of the UK's best loved birds.  No need to book for this free event, just turn up and join in the fun.  Kingfisher Photo Credit: RSPB Volunteer Martin Jones-Gill Chafey's Lake Now is also a good time to visit RSPB Chafey's Lake close by Radipole Lake, another quiet oasis in the town.  The reserve is currently alive with woodland bird song, such as members of the tit family including Long Tailed Tits,and species of Warblers.  Hedgerows are groaning under the weight of blackberries and sloes. As it's name suggest Chafey's has as small lake and some of the reserve is damp in places which attracts the Dragonflies and Damselflies. Currently on the wing are the larger Emperor Dragonflies, common at large well vegetated ponds and urban gardens and the red Common Darter which frequently occurs around lakes, ponds, rivers and ditches. A recent butterfly survey recorded 10 common species in one day including the Comma, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Peacock, Small Tortoishell and Red Admiral. Many of the plants on Chafey's are the same as on Radipole as the environment is similar.  At the moment Purple Loosestrife, Fleabane, Hemp Agrimony and Michaelmas Daisy are all in bloom. Near the entrance of Chafey's is a patch of Strawberry Clover, a plant also seen on Radipole Lake on the path near the new Viewing Shelter.  The Clover is much smaller and more delicate than the frequently seen White and Red Clovers. It is easily identified when it is in fruit when the seed pods become inflated looking like a strawberry. For more information on the forthcoming Kingfisher Day or Chafey's Lake and all the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available. Telephone : 01305 778313 Email : Website :
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6th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 23:52
It seems like only days ago that there was a noticeable transition from early to mid autumn fare so it was quite a surprise when today came up with signs of passage moving even further down the line, as the first Siskins (2 over the Bill) were on the move overhead and the first Goldcrests (singles at the Bill and Southwell) and a Reed Bunting (at Reap Lane) showed up on the ground. A crystal-clear morning had seen most of the usual suspects on the move overhead; none was especially numerous at the Bill where 30 Tree Pipits represented the only notable count and another passing Hobby was as good as it got by way of quality. The spread on the ground was varied albeit relatively thin, with a new Wryneck at Suckthumb Quarry the only oddity unearthed.

The first Olive-tree Pearl of the year at the Obs was the pick of the overnight moth catch.
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Sightings - Thursday 6th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 21:46
Garganey - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Cattle Egret - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Spoonbill - 15 Brownsea Is, 1 Stanpit Marsh
Marsh Harrier - 2 Lytchett Bay
Osprey - 4 seen from Arne RSPB, 1+ Lytvhett Bay
Ruff - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Curlew Sandpiper - 1 Brownsea Is.
Little Stint - 1 Brownsea Is.
Common Sandpiper - 3 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Green Sandpiper - 7 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Greenshank - 5 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 4 Middlebere,  1 past Durlston CP.
Nightjar - 2 Durlston CP.
Wryneck - 1 Suckthumb Quarry Portland
Hobby - 1 Greenland's Fm.
Blackcap - 120+ Durlston CP, 5 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Lesser Whitethroat - 8 Durlston CP.
Whitethroat - 50+ Durlston CP.
Spotted Flycatcher - 3 Arne RSPB, 3 Upton CP, 2 Durlston CP, 2 Winspit, 2 Rushcombe, 1 Stanpit Marsh, 1 Hengistbury Hd.
Redstart - 5 Durlston CP, 1 Stanpit Marsh, 1 Winspit, 1 Rushcombe.
Whinchat - 2 Durlston CP, 2 Stanpit Marsh
Wheatear - 5 Reap Lane, 3 Stanpit Marsh
Grey Wagtail - 5 Durlston CP.
Yellow Wagtail - 20+ LytchettFields RSPB, 13 Greenlands Fm, 4 Ferrybridge, 2 Reap Lane Portland
Ortolan Bunting - 1 St. Aldhelm's Hd. nr. Haysom Quarry

Cattle Egret - Lytchett Fields RSPB © Ian Ballam

Ortolan Bunting - St. Aldham's Head © Steve Smith

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6 Sep 18 - Local Ortolan

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 18:00
After another early Autumn of Birding around my local patches & not finding anything, a couple of days ago I went to the Northern end of Portland to look for a couple of Ortolans. It was a very pleasant afternoon & evening of looking in one of the quieter ends of Portland. But, there had been no sightings of the Ortolans since the late morning on that day, frustratingly followed by another brief couple of sightings the following morning. Well you can't see all the Birds you look for. It has been many years since I last saw an Ortolan in Dorset, as I have only made one other equally unsuccessful attempt to chase them on Portland in the last twenty years. However, I did see quite a few in Israel at Beit Yatir, Yotvata & Kfar Ruppin Kibbutz in 2014, so I've not been particularly worried about chasing them in the UK.
Whinchat: It is always a good start to see something interesting by the Renscombe car parkThis morning I was out Birding again to St Aldhelms. I park at the Renscombe car park & generally walk down the main track to St Aldhelms Head. I always spend some time Birding in the weedy rough ground & checking the trees by Trev Haysom's quarry, now known to many national Birders as the Two-barred Greenish Warbler trees. Then I move onto St Aldhelms Head to check the quarry ledges & bushes at the Head. However, on the earlier trips this Autumn, the Head has been fairly quiet & the best Birding has been the rough ground by Trev's quarry. This morning I decided I was going to focus my time exploring & waiting in that area. This area is the top of a South Westerly facing valley which seems to act as a funnel for Birds to follow to the rough ground. There was a scattering of the usual suspects throughout the morning in low numbers: Whinchat, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit & Redstart, as well as, some of the commoner Warblers. This morning it was clear watching the top of the valley that migrants were moving up the valley, with some feeding in the area before moving on. I was glad to confirm my feelings for this being a good spot to focus on. Then I picked up what looked like a Bunting grovelling at the base of some Brambles. It was just a bit too far for the binoculars & I had left the scope at home. I couldn't get closer from where I was standing. So, I picked up the camera to get some photos. Looking at the photos on the back of the camera, I was really pleased to see a pale yellow eyering & yellow moustachial stripe: Ortolan.
Ortolan: The pale yellow eyering, long pale yellow moustachial & streaky breast are spot on for an OrtolanOrtolan: To give an idea why I turned to the camera for help. This is the uncropped photo with the effective 13x magnification that the Canon 7D & 100 - 400 mm lens produced. The Ortolan is clearly visible (not) just to the right of pale stone in the centre of the photo. I am happy to go out Birding without the scope, but I am rarely seen without the camera. It is fairly heavy to carry, but I've got used to its weight & today it proved its worthI looked again & couldn't see it on the ground. But the ground was uneven & it was likely to have just moved out of view. I decided to walk back to the gate where I could walk into the field (as there is a public footpath through the field). I walked to the Brambles, but all I saw fly up were the group of Linnets & another group of House Sparrows. I don't think it went up with either group & it clearly wasn't by the Brambles. All I can assume was it had moved while I was walking back to the field entrance. After twenty minutes of unsuccessfully looking, I saw another Birder. He was a visiting Essex Birder, James. We spent another couple of hours looking for the Ortolan, but still drew a blank. All very frustrating, but I'm pleased to have found a local Ortolan & at least get some presentable photos to submit the record.
Ortolan: After grabbed the first quick photos (above), I scanned again with the bins & saw the Bunting had popped up from a small rut. I then grabbed a few more photos, now I could definitely see the Bunting through the cameraOrtolanOrtolanOrtolanOrtolan: To encourage me to Bird locally after moving to Dorset in 1996, I started a Ten Mile from the house list which includes all of Poole Harbour, Wareham Forest & the Purbeck coast from Tyneham to Durlston. This brings the Ten Mile list up to 283. There are still a handful of scarce but near annual migrants to Durlston that I could pick up if I spent more time on the coast, rather than in my Poole Harbour patches
Ortolan: There have been several records of Ortolans at St Aldhelms Head in the 1980s & 1990s when the Head was regularly watched by local Birders, Peter Williams & ex-local Steve Morrison. Steve believes this might be the first record for St Aldhelms for about 20 yearsOrtolan: This was the final decent photo. In the next photo it was partly obscured as it dropped back into the small rut. I will be back at St Aldhelms tomorrow just in case it hasn't moved farOrtolans have had an interesting status in Dorset in the last few years. They used to be regular from the end of Aug to early Sep at Portland in the 1980s & 1990s, but were always scarce elsewhere in the county. Since that they appear to have become scarcer. There was only one record for Poole Harbour seen by Nick Hopper at Ballard Down in Sep 07. Then a few years ago, local Poole Birders Nick Hopper & then Paul Morton, started night recordings at Portland & Poole Harbour, respectively. What followed was one of the more surprising Birding discoveries in Dorset for many years. Nick & Paul were regularly recording Ortolans at every site they left their recorders running overnight. Nick generally has sessions of leaving his recorder running overnight at Portland & has regularly recorded Ortolans calling at night as detailed, including sound recordings, on the Portland Bird Obs website every Autumn in recent years. Paul then tried recording at a number of locations including Lytchett Matravers, central Poole & occasionally at other locations in Poole Harbour. In 2016, Paul identified thirteen individuals calling at night over central Poole as detailed including sound recordings on the Birds of Poole Harbour website. He also had a brief morning sighting of one he flushed at Soldiers Road that year. Paul has had smaller numbers recorded in the last couple of Autumns which are detailed on the Birds of Poole Harbour sightings pages. The overall discovery by Nick & Paul, assisted by analysis by well-known sound recordist Marcus Robb has been written up on the Sound Approach website in a couple of articles here & here. To me their results are excellent & I totally believe their records. Given how skulky Ortolans are then it is no surprise that despite Nick & Paul recording these Ortolans at night, that few get seen the next morning. Their best nights have only had two or three individuals often in the middle of the night. So, it is not surprising that they aren't found the following morning, as they have probably travelled a long distance since they were recorded. There are many evenings where I've heard Redwings calling in the evening & gone out the following morning & not found any Redwings. But, those Redwings I heard calling at nine or ten at night have have flown on for another eight hours or more before dawn.
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6 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 17:18
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Sadly the beautiful blue sky of the morning gave way to a cloudy and breezy afternoon. There were a few threatening rain clouds, but fortunately for us on Portland it looked as if any rain was falling on the mainland.

Main highlights were the increased number of warblers heading down Penns Weare with Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs making their way down towards The Bill. In Penns Wood there was a good flock of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits making their way through the tree canopy. Also here a Spotted Flycatcher.

Only 2 butterflies seen on the walk, both of which were Speckled Woods found in the grounds of St Andrew's Church. Also here a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria).

Interestingly the first of the Ivy flowers have opened on a plant in Penn's Weare and has become the focus of dozens of hoverflies, bees and wasps. Hopefully in the next week or so, the Ivy at Rufus Castle will bloom soon and the possibility of some Ivy Bees.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

A Bloody-nosed Beetle in its usual spot along the South-west Coast Path
A Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax) on Ivy flowers.
The rear end of a Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea)
The view looking south over Church Ope Cove from Penn's Weare.
This Kestrel was well hidden in the trees overlooking St Andrew's Church. 
A Wall Lizard. This is the first time I have noticed those blue scales along its flanks. Something else I also learnt today was that Wall Lizards are threatening the existence of our native Sand Lizards, a bit like the Grey Squirrels pushing out the Reds. More on this Here.
One of the 2 Speckled Woods in the grounds of St Andrew's Church...........
........where there was also this Hornet Mimic Hoverfly.
After an absence of a week or so, these Harlequin Ladybirds............
.......have popped up again in Penn's wood.

Early this morning a Willow Warbler was feeding on insects in the neighbours overhanging Clematis. Also plenty of activity on the Sunflower Feeders with Great Tit, Blue Tit and Greenfinch all visiting.

At 12:05pm a Tree Pipit passed over the house heading south.

An adult male Greenfinch...........
........and one of its youngsters, judging by the moult.
Ships Today
This the Dutch Cargo vessel Lady Anne Lynn on its way to Fowey from Poole. More on this General Cargo ship here.
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Reports of interest, Wednesday 5th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 22:19
Manx Shearwater - 18 Portland Bill.
Balearic Shearwater - 8 Portland Bill.
Spoonbill - 5 over Hengistbury, 1 Stanpit.
Marsh Harrier - 2 Lytchett RSPB.
Osprey - 2 Lytchett RSPB.
Hobby - 1 Portland (Barleycrates Lane), 1 Studland.
Merlin - 1 Portland Bill.
Whimbrel - 1 Stanpit.
Knot - 3 Lytchett RSPB, 1 Stanpit.
Spotted Redshank - 1 Stanpit.
Greenshank - 7 Lytchett RSPB, 1 Portland Bill, 1 Stanpit.
Yellow Wagtail - 19 Christchurch Harbour, 1 Ferrybridge, 8 Lytchett RSPB, 59 Portland Bill, 31 Ringstead, 8 Studland.
Alba wagtail - 9 Portland Bill.
Redstart - 5 Portland, 1 Ringstead.
Whinchat - 1 Lytchett RSPB.
Pied Flycatcher - 1 Portland Bill.
Spotted Flycatcher - 2 Christchurch Harbour, 4 Studland.
ORTOLAN - 2 Fancy's Farm (Portland).

Hirundines were on the move today with substantial numbers reported from several coastal sites.
Note: The elevated number of Osprey in Poole Harbour at present is due to the Osprey translocation scheme which is being carried out by the Birds of Poole Harbour charity and The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.  For more information on this project follow the link below.

Wheatear on Hengistbury © Clinton Whale
Ortolan on Portland © Roger Hewitt
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