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.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Crap Record Shots

Yes, these certainly were the order of the day, well, as Owls were concerned anyway. So, here we go.

First up, a Short-eared Owl. Note pattern of underwing tip.

And now, a Long-eared Owl. Note pattern of underwing tip. I know it looks like it's bum has exploded, but I'm pretty sure that's not an identification feature.

I did actually get an excellent on the deck view of the Long-eared Owl, but it was a case of, walk round the corner and there it was, looking at me and me looking at it. A couple of seconds later and it was off. Nothing I could have done about that, it's just one of those things and totally accidental. Shame, as it would have been lovely to get some on the deck photos.

What else did we see on Portland, other than more of the Daurian Shrike. Well, not a great deal, so I'll dish you up some more crap photos, as well as a couple of good pics.

Ring Ouzel from the front.

Ring Ouzel from the back.

A stunning male Black Redstart.

A slightly better shot of him.

Now, why couldn't the male perform like this?


And what should I see back home? Yes, you've guessed it, another Black Redstart.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Subalpine Warbler

Another trip up to Portland after a report of an Olive-backed Pipit, but it was duff gen. A bonus was at hand though, with the relocation of the Subalpine Warbler.

This Ring Ouzel was nearby. Crap photo, I know.

I was hoping to get better photos of the Siberian Stonechat whilst I was up there, but only managed a couple more record shots.

This bird could well turn out to be of the form 'stejnegeri' rather than 'maurus', which is a potential split, Stejneger's Stonechat.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Siberian Stonechat

Went up to Portland this afternoon, to see the Siberian Stonechat. The light was awful, plus the bird was very mobile.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler On Portland

The bird was found around lunchtime. It was identified as an Eastern Crowned Warbler. There was a select audience, of which I was not invited. Anyway, news filtered out and I was told about it at just before 4pm. I was unaware when it had been found and whether it was even still there, so I thought, "Sod it, I'm going." So, what can only be described as gatecrashing, I knocked on the owners door. They answered and I asked, "Is it still here?" They said that it was and they asked me who it was that gave me the gen. Now, I know I wasn't invited, because I heard the owner on the phone to a very prominent local birder say, that if they found out who had told me, they would never get any news from them again. On entering the house, I was sworn to secrecy and so had to respect the owners wishes. It was after 4pm and was very gloomy. When I entered the garden, I was somewhat surprised to see that nobody else was there. Strange, I thought. The light wasn't it's best. On seeing the bird, I instantly ruled out that it was an Eastern Crowned and although I thought the call from the bird was odd, which I put down to my hearing or the acoustics, I felt the bird was an Arctic Warbler. It wasn't until yesterday that I found out the true identity of the bird. A Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, although Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, although a very unlikely vagrant, can't be ruled out. 

Now, for those of the people who are upset with me, maybe you should be looking at the people who were invited to view the bird, way before I gatecrashed the thing. If you still have a problem with me, then maybe you'd like to confront me face to face. The fact is, I was put in a very difficult situation and it's one I don't relish. So, if you do want to confront me, then I'd bring your body bag. Enough said, me thinks. Just remember all the good birds I have got you onto.

And here's my rubbish pics. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Isabelline Shrike On Portland

Being unwell is really no fun, so I thought, "bugger this, I'm gonna go out and get some fresh air and look for some birds at Littlesea." So, I'd gone round the Bridging Camp, where there had been an influx of Black Redstarts, with 6 present. A good start I was thinking.

One of the Black Redstarts. A cracking male.

I'd got round to the path that goes down towards the holiday camp and the wood, when I got a text from Paul. Well, this elicited a quick about turn and saw me walking at pace to get back to the car. And so, it was off to Portland, which is certainly on a roll at the moment, for a bird that I have been waiting to see for years. I wasn't to be disappointed.

A stunning adult male Isabelline Shrike of the nominate form isabellinus, colloquially known as Daurian Shrike

Crap flight shot, that a least shows the amount of pale at the base of the primaries.

A beautiful bird.

Well done to the finders and thanks to them and Paul for getting me onto this wonderful bird. My personal highlight of the year locally.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Blast From The Past (October)

Rustic Bunting on Portland in 1987. © Martin Cade

Desert Wheatear on Portland in 1991. © Peter Coe

Desert Wheatear on Portland in 1994. © Peter Coe

One of my best ever finds, the Red-eyed Vireo at Littlesea, The Fleet in 1995. © Paul Gale

Here's another shot of the Red-eyed Vireo© Paul Gale

The Northern Waterthrush on Portland in 1996. © Paul Gale

The male Siberian Rubythroat at Osmington Mills in 1997. © Graham Armstrong

Siberian Stonechat on Portland in 1998. © Paul Gale

Spotted Crake at Radipole Lake in 2004. 

Grey Phalarope at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2004.

Arctic Warbler on Portland in 2005. © Martin Cade

Drake Red-crested Pochard at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2007. A one day bird, so as good a candidate for a wild origin as any. Anyway, it's gorgeous.

Barred Warbler at West Bexington in 2006.

Siberian Stonechat at Bere Regis in 2008.

Caspian Gull at Radipole Lake in 2008.

Great Grey Shrike at Hartland Moor in 2008.

Greenland White-fronted Goose at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2008.

Radde's Warbler at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2009.

Lapland Bunting at Moonfleet in 2010. One of a flock of five that I found at this site.

Wryneck at Abbotsbury Swannery in 2011. © Charlie Wheeler

Caspian Gull at Radipole Lake in 2011.

The very confiding Snow Bunting at Littlesea, The Fleet in 2011.

The 1st-winter Red-breasted Goose, with Dark-bellied Brent Geese, on The Fleet in 2011.

Of course, I would have loved to have had images of the Northern Parula on Portland in 1988, the Red-flanked Bluetail at Winspit in 1993, the Sociable Plover at Poxwell in 1995 and the Western Sandpiper on Brownsea in 2004. I hope, what images that there is here, will bring back good memories for many.

May I take this opportunity to thank Graham Armstrong, Martin Cade, Peter Coe, Paul Gale and Charlie Wheeler for the use of their photographs, I'm extremely grateful.