This blog is about my birding exploits, which mainly take place in the Weymouth/Portland area, in Dorset. Will also include stuff from elsewhere, plus some other critters too. Hope you enjoy. All photographs are © Brett Spencer, unless indicated otherwise. The above image is of a Siberian Rubythroat, taken in Holland in 2016.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Blast From The Past (May)

Being the weather is sooo awful, thought I'd do another instalment of  "Blast From The Past". Now, you may notice that certain birds are missing from these instalments. This could be because I couldn't be bothered to photograph it, or maybe I didn't see it because I dipped, I was away, or I couldn't be bothered to go and see it. Also, I've only had a camera of sorts since the autumn of 2002, so these blasts from the past only include birds from that period. One notable thing I have missed out is the Lesser Scaup at Abbotsbury Swannery in March 2004. Well, I did take a photo of it, but as you can see.

It's bloody awful.

Going back to March to May of years gone past, I'm sure some of us can reminisce about the Portland Rock Thrush of 1988, the Portland Scops Owl of 1990, the Abbotsbury Swannery Collared Pratincole of 1990, the Ferrybridge American Golden Plover of 1992, the Portland Sardinian Warbler of 1995, the Lodmoor Pacific Golden Plover of 1996, the Studland Desert Wheatear of 1997, the Christchurch Terek Sandpiper of 1998, the Portland Iberian Chiffchaff of 1999, the Christchurch Marsh Sandpiper of 2000, the Portland and Christchurch Fan-tailed Warblers (Zitting Cisticolas) of 2000, the Corfe Mullen American Herring Gull of 2002 and the Radipole Lake Great Reed Warbler of 2002.

In the sequence of photos coming up you'll notice the absence of the Christchurch Elegant Tern thingy of 2005, the Portland Eastern Olivaceous Warbler of 2008, the Lodmoor Little Bittern of 2008 and the Portland Collared Flycatcher of 2009. Didn't take photos of 'em, sorry.

The Woodchat Shrike on The Fleet at Herbury Gore in 2003.

The 1st-summer male Woodchat Shrike at Lodmoor in 2003.

The male Kentish Plover on The Fleet at Ferrybridge in 2007. What a rare bird this has become.

The Great White Egret, with a Little Egret, at Modbury Fish Farm in 2007. Sadly, netting now covers this site.

The stunning Whiskered Tern at Radipole Lake in 2008. Also, see photo below.

That was a good house tick for somebody.

The Cattle Egret at Radipole Village in 2008.

The beautiful White-winged Black Tern at Lodmoor in 2008.

The Great White Egret at Radipole Lake in 2010.

The male Red-backed Shrike on Portland in 2011. 

The 1st-summer Night Heron at Radipole Lake in 2011.

An absolutely awful record shot of the singing male Savi's Warbler at Lodmoor in 2011.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pretty Quiet

Well, I got wet for nothing. Highlights at Littlesea this morning were singles of Swift and Redstart, 10 Wheatears and 3 Whimbrel.

The Fleet Vs Portland 2012 update.

The Fleet = 26 points
Isle of Trolls = 10 points

Portland had a Red-necked Grebe at Chesil Cove, which should be counted on The Fleet tally as well I reckon, but because it's struggling, I thought I'd be generous.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Oh Yeah, I Forgot

To mention that the Hume's Warbler was still at Littlesea yesterday. Only heard it call though, which is probably why I forgot to mention it.

Back to today and another visit to Littlesea. Did a seawatch from Camp Road first. The highlights were 2 beautiful summer plumaged Great Northern Divers sat on the sea just off the beach, plus 37 Pale-bellied Brent Geese that headed west and 2 of each of Red-throated Divers and Arctic Skuas. Otherwise, the sea was fairly quiet. On the land, migrants included singles of Redstart and Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Sedge Warblers and 30 Wheatears.

This is a very ropey shot of one of the Great Northern Divers. Like a twit, had the camera on the wrong setting. Still, you can see what it is.

Now I can bore you with some more photos taken from this mornings visit.




Lesser Black-backed Gull


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Good To Get Out

Went to Littlesea this afternoon, with the highlights being 3 Redstarts and singles of Whitethroat and Whimbrel. A brief look off the Chesil produced singles of Red-throated Diver and Great Skua and 2 Arctic Skuas.

Male Redstart.

And here's another one.

Male Blackcap.

Female Blackcap.


Great Tit.

Carrion Crow.

Female Stonechat.

A beautiful male Greenfinch.

Arctic Skua.

Great Skua.

I hope to get better photos of skuas in the coming week.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Fleet Vs Portland 2012

Sadly my wife is unwell, so no birding for me today. So, I thought I'd have a bit of fun.

Ok, it's competition time. No, there aren't any prizes. Yes, there's total rivalry. Also, any cheating will be dealt with seriously by way of death. Also, I make the rules and I promise you, I will be fair. Stop laughing! I will be fair.

Now, everyone knows I love The Fleet, as it is truly a beautiful place. Likewise, everyone knows I detest the Isle of Portland, from an aesthetic point of view. It used to be lovely of course, but the hand of man has been ruthless to this place and it's not somewhere that I like to go birding as a result. Having said that, Portland happens to be a brilliant place for birds. Now, I could start ranting about some of the people who live there, but I'm not going too. I don't want to lower myself to their standards. Oops, that was a slight rant wasn't it? Ah well.

I'm thinking Portland could win this by years end, because it gets more birders and some of them have too much time on their hands. Plus, it has that lighthouse thingy. Oh, now what's it called? They molest birds there, you know, fondle them? Anyway, it escapes me, but they have that place.

Here's how the scoring goes.

1st for Britain = 30 points
1st for Dorset = 20 points
1st for respective area = 10 points
B.B rarity = 5 points
Scarcity = 1 point

The Rules

Ferrybridge is The Fleet and as a result, doesn't get counted on Portlands's scores. Stop arguing, I make the rules, not you. I choose what gets counted and what doesn't, so there. Also, for the seriously rare stuff, evidence is needed for it to count, 'cause there's a few stringers out there. Remember, the punishment is death if you start cheating. I'll fart in yer face, yeah, that'll do it. Perhaps death is a bit harsh. Ah well, we'll review that at some stage.

Results so far (up to end 20th April)

The Fleet = 26 points
Shit Rock = 9 points

Species involved

The Fleet

Black Brant = 1 = 1 point
Smew = 1 = 1 point
Black-winged Stilt = 1 = 5 points
Long-billed Dowitcher = 1 = 5 points
Glaucous Gull = 1 = 1 point
Iceland Gull = 2 = 2 points
Richard's Pipit = 1 = 1 point
Hume's Warbler = 1 = 10 points, as it was 1st for The Fleet.

Shit Rock

Red-necked Grebe = 2 = 2 points
Glaucous Gull = 1 = 1 point
Iceland Gull = 3 = 3 points
Black Guillemot = 1 = 1 point
Hoopoe = 1 = 1 point
Snow Bunting = 1 = 1 point

Species explained

Certain species will not be counted, for example, Balearic Shearwater, Pomarine Skua, Spoonbill, etc, because they are frequent enough visitors. Red-necked Grebe is counted as it has become much scarcer in recent years, as has Puffin to be honest, but I have decided not to count Puffin in this case.

I'll try and update the points as and when I can be bothered to do it.

Had a house tick last Sunday. A Tawny Owl seen from the bedroom window. It was heard calling and was seen perched on top a neighbours roof, before flying off.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

That Richard's Again

Very quiet at Littlesea, The Fleet today, but the Richard's Pipit showed well, albeit a little distantly for the camera. Can't imagine it staying for much longer, having almost completed it's moult.

Note the broad buff fringes to the adult median and greater coverts and also the tertials. It's in the process of growing a new tail. It's really looking lovely now I reckon.

And now something for my mate Ian. Are these Chiffchaffs, pictured below, yours by any chance?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bits And Bobs

Nice to get out and do some proper birding this morning after last weekend, when I couldn't get out because of not feeling well. Went on The Fleet to Littlesea, where the highlight was a Marsh Harrier arriving in off the sea. Otherwise, there was a thin spread of common migrants, which included my first Yellow Wagtail of the year and a single Redpoll heard flying over. Swallows and the odd Sand Martin trickled through, whilst in the bay, Sandwich Terns numbered 30. Finally, a very confiding male Reed Bunting was on territory in the reeds at the back of Lynch Cove. At Abbotsbury, the Black-winged Stilt remained in residence, as did a single drake Scaup.

 Marsh Harrier

It was very distant.

   Sandwich Terns

  Reed Bunting

 Song Thrush

Ian, it's got a ring on it!

  Willow Warbler



Friday, 13 April 2012

Ah, Now That's Better

Went back to Abbotsbury after work, to improve on the record shots I took yesterday of the Black-winged Stilt. What do you reckon?

Other birds seen included a Green Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier and some rather lovely Little Egrets in full breeding condition.

This colour ringed Little Egret is in breeding condition. Note the colouration of the lores and feet.