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.

Friday, 29 June 2012

One Good Tern

Just when you thought June was going out with a whimper, it ends on a bang. A cracking Gull-billed Tern decided to drop into Lodmoor this afternoon, allowing many a local birder to enjoy it. Great find Bob. Also, cheers for the calls everyone.

Now, this was my attempt at a flight shot. Really wasn't concentrating.

Luckily though, Nick Hopper was on the case and has kindly allowed me to use his flight shot, thus showing to full affect my total incompetence.

Now that's more like it. Cheers for that Nick. Bloody good photo that, me thinks. © Nick Hopper.

Blast From The Past (July)

Well, it really has been the June doldrums, hasn't it? Not only has the weather been crap, but not much has turned up locally to get us excited. To compound matters, I've been totally off the boil and at present, I'm just getting over a nasty virus. Let's hope I can get myself into it in July. 

In fact, looking back over the years, June and July isn't so bad. With late spring overshoots and early returning waders providing a wealth of quality over the years in Dorset. Let's cast our minds back shall we.
Who could forget these quality birds,

The stunning summer plumaged Glossy Ibis at Radipole Lake in June 1987. When it was still a truly rare bird.

The summer plumaged Pacific Golden Plover at Christchurch in July 1990.

The Olivaceous Warbler on Portland in July 1999.

The male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear at Upton Heath in June 2000.

The Sykes's Warbler on Portland in July 2000.

The male Black-headed Bunting on Portland in July 2000.

The summer plumaged Stilt Sandpiper on Lodmoor in July 2011.

Plus a host of other good birds I've seen during these months, namely, Black-winged Stilt, Purple Herons, Grey-headed Wagtail, Golden Orioles, Caspian Terns, Night Heron, Greenish Warblers, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Red-footed Falcon, Woodchat Shrikes, Red-backed Shrikes, Common Rosefinch, White-winged Black Tern, Savi's Warbler, Wryneck, Red-rumped Swallow, Iberian Chiffchaff,  Honey Buzzards, Rose-coloured Starlings, Marsh Warblers, Montagu's Harriers, Kentish Plover, Serins, Cattle Egret, Bluethroat, Great White Egrets, Spotted Sandpiper, Squacco Herons, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Gull-billed Tern and Stone Curlew.

And I'm off the boil, jeez!

Haven't got many photos to show you, well, I have two actually. They're both crap, but one, from a Dorset perspective is pretty gripping. So here goes.

So, here's the gripping one. The male Grey-headed Wagtail on Lodmoor in 1990. I scanned this photo from the print that I had taken. As far as I'm aware, this is the only photo taken of this long staying bird. A real Dorset rarity.

And finally, the Stilt Sandpiper that graced Lodmoor in 2011. Shocking photo I know, but it's the only one I have.

The Fleet Vs Portland Update.

The Fleet = remains on 46 points.
Portland = remains on 27 points. I did think, "should I add a point for Hawfinch", and in the end I thought, "nah!"

Actually, at the end of the year, I might add bonus points if certain species have been recorded at the respective sites. Remember though, you'll only get one point per species, NOT one point per individual. For example, it doesn't matter how many Poms you've had, you'll still only get one point. Anyway, in the scheme of things, it may not matter, but if the scores are close, it may make all the difference. Fun, isn't it?

Well, we're halfway through the year and The Fleet is well and truly on top. Of course, I expect Portland to close the gap considerably during the next six months. It has to be said, I think Portland has had a rather mediocre spring when it comes to rarities. Anyway, it's all to play for.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Blast From The Past (June)

Haven't been out much lately, so here's another instalment of memories, this time from the month of June. 

Great White Egret at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2003. Of course, this species has been in the news recently, with the first British breeding record taking place in Somerset.

Roseate Tern at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2005. As you can see, this bird, like most of the ones seen locally, has been ringed.

Squacco Heron at Radipole Lake in 2007. Having first been seen briefly on Lodmoor, this bird was relocated here, viewable from the North Hide, much to the delight of county listers who didn't see the 1982 bird.

Here it is again. Incredibly, another Squacco turned up at Radipole Lake later the same month, after first being seen briefly at Abbotsbury Swannery. That particular bird was a brighter individual, but unfortunately couldn't get a photo of it.

A rare sight these days in Dorset. A recently fledged Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in 2009.

Gull-billed Tern off Abbotsbury Beach in 2010. This was a Dorset tick for many.

Well, Hartlepool pulled another biggie out of the bag this Spring, didn't they? Anyway, it reminded me of this photo.....

Of a male Western Orphean Warbler I took at Monfrague, Spain in 2006.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Radipole Lake RSPB Reserve, A Review

Yesterday I made a visit to Radipole while my wife and daughter went into town. Whilst there, I came across the recent work that had been done on the reserve for the benefit of visitors. The reserve information centre had been refurbished and I was interested to see the improvements. 

Sadly, the information centre was very underwhelming and didn't impress me one bit. It could be that it isn't fully finished, so I don't want to be too harsh. The first thing you notice is that it now offers refreshments and is no longer a shop. This has been laid out well, in the limited space offered by the building. The visual side of things to offer information on the Weymouth reserves could be improved immensely though, in my mind. A huge picture board, only showing a photo of a Kingfisher, is a waste and could, and should, show photos of the reserves other stars as well. I just think the space available could be better utilised from an information stand point. After all, it's suppose to stimulate interest and encourage people to go out and explore the reserve, having been stimulated by what they've seen in the centre.

Out on the reserve itself, there have been a few boardwalk constructions. Let's start with the one that is down the path from the concrete bridge on the way to the shelter, on the Buddleia Loop. I feel this offers nothing to the visitor and the money could have been better spent elsewhere. Carrying on around the Buddleia Loop, we come across a boardwalk proper. This is ace and I really can see this being popular with visitors. Without being too encroaching upon the habitat, it seems to carry you out into the world of the reedbed. Walking back to the centre, we come across a raised boardwalk which offers an elevated view over the reedbed. What a great shame! It's brilliantly constructed, but it offers nothing when it comes to views and in my view is in the wrong place. As a birder, if a reserve offers the best views of the reserve in order to help locate birds and other wildlife, then surely this also enhances the visits had by schools and novices in order to spark that interest. the raised platform would have been better placed overlooking the back of Teal Bay. This is the bay you see from the centre.

Whilst I fully realise the reserve is there to cater for the unconverted, if you make it birder friendly, you're already on the way to helping convert those very people.