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, 31 March 2013

Do Birds Fart?

Before we attempt to answer this question, went out with the family today to Marwell Zoo. We had a lovely day out, but I need to share this with you.

Snow Leopard.  AWESOME! © Tiana Spencer

Anyway, back to that burning question that's on every birders minds. Do birds fart?

Yep, they do.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


Portland was graced by yet another White-spotted Bluethroat today, that's three in one week. It's a case of Portland 3 - the rest of Britain 3. I wasn't about to miss this opportunity and I wasn't disappointed either. What a stunner. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Friday, 29 March 2013

This Spring Still Feels Like Winter

Took me mate Fred out today. The highlights of the day were as follows:-

Ring Ouzel still at Littlesea, The Fleet. (Camp Road)
5 Black Redstarts at Littlesea, The Fleet. (Bridging Camp)

This Ring Ouzel has been present a week now.

A few other bits from Littlesea.

Continental Robin.

The wintering Shag with Turnstones.

It's certainly been a good spring for Wheatears.

Red-breasted Mergansers.

2 Sanderlings at Ferrybridge.

4 Garganey at Radipole Lake.

2 Spoonbills at Lodmoor.
A White Wagtail on Portland.
And finally, 2 Ring Ouzels on Portland, that showed much closer than the Fleet bird, allowing for much better photos.

This female was nice.

But this male was a cracker.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Just to say that the Ring Ouzel was still at Camp Road this evening.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Fancy A Chat

The weekend was salvaged by the continued presence of the Bluethroat at Portland Bill.

The gorgeous male White-spotted Bluethroat.

And here's a few more pics.

On The Fleet at Littlesea highlights were a single Ring Ouzel, 5 Black Redstarts and 40 Golden Plover that flew over heading east. 

The Black Redstart was also still in my garden today.

Ring Ouzel.

4 new Black Redstarts in the Bridging Camp, included this fine male.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Fortune Favours The Trolls

The Siberian Chiffchaff and Black Redstart were still in and around my garden this morning, along with 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest. This afternoon I decided to do the Bridging Camp area. It is so waterlogged and slippery there, it is unbelievable. Anyway, a single Black Redstart was the presumed over wintering bird, whilst other birds noted were 23 Wheatear, 2 Stock Doves, several Chiffchaffs and 8 Sandwich Terns. On the way home, popped into Ian's house to see a Black Redstart he had just trapped and ringed.

The wintering Black Redstart in my garden.

One of the two Stock Doves.

Stock Dove. This brings my 10km square photo year list to 95.

The Black Redstart that was trapped and ringed in Ian's garden was not only new in, but was also a new bird for Ian's garden. God damn Ian, you need to wax those fingers of yours.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Comet Panstarrs

Below is a crap photo of it that I took last night.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Meadow Pipits Were The Order Of The Day

Well, what a horrible morning with rain and sleet and snow.  The morning was dominated by a large movement of Meadow Pipits. Part of my morning was spent at Ian's house at Littlesea, where a count of 600+ heading in a north westerly direction was noteworthy. Ian did manage to tape lure some into his garden and eventually trapped and ringed 11 in total.

Check out the beetle grub.

Meadow Pipits in Ian's Littlesea garden.

The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so myself and Fred decided to check out Camp Road. Highlight here were 9 Wheatears.

Male Wheatear. One of my favourite birds.

A brief look from Sandsfoot Castle produced 2 Velvet Scoters, 1 Eider, 11 Slavonian Grebes and 8 Black-necked Grebes.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

It's Still Here

I was busy laying a carpet in my two daughter's bedroom, but the day was brightened by the continued presence of the Siberian Chiffchaff in my garden.

Friday, 15 March 2013

It Feels Like Spring Has Arrived

Had some stuff to do in town after work, but thanks to a text from Ian, enjoyed my first Wheatear of the year on the Bridging Camp fence, from the comfort of a dry and warm car.

Before heading to Camp Road, popped into Radipole Lake briefly and connected with my first Sand Martin of the year. 

In the week, my first migrant of the spring was a Chiffchaff singing on the way to work, while on the way back, the Black Redstart was still in residence at the end of my road. My wife and daughter had seen the Siberian Chiffchaff in the garden one day in the week also, so I remain hopeful I will see it again this weekend.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Dorset's February Bird Of The Month

Firstly, one of the viewers of this blog, through one of their comments, highlighted this for me and I thought I'd share it with everyone.

Anonymous said...
Sadly, the hen harriers appear to be suffering from repeated disturbance by low-flying Army helicopters using Wyke Down as a practice landing area. I complained using the MoD's very efficient low-flying complaints service, explaining the importance of the area for nationally rare species, but received only a generic reply which was worded as if I had been complaining about a low-flying helicopter over my house.

I think greater numbers of complaints might help draw attention to the problem, and so would urge anyone reading this to complain to:

Ministry of Defence Air Staff
Complaints and Enquiries Unit
Low Flying Operations Squadron
RAF Wittering

Telephone: 0845 600 7580

Thankyou for highlighting this problem.  So, birders out there, please start complaining, in order to educate the Army about this special place.

Now back to other stuff. Well, February didn't produce much in the way of new arrivals, so there will be no poll for Dorset's bird of February. I think it will be agreed though, that the bird of the month was the Green-winged Teal in Poole Harbour. So, well done to the finder Nick Hopper. 

Dorset's bird of the year candidates so far include the following:-

The Hoopoe at Hamworthy. (Dorset's January bird of the month as voted for by you)
The Rosefinch at Broadstone. The bird that I think deserved the title of bird of the month in January.
The Green-winged Teal in Poole Harbour. (Dorset's February bird of the month)

And Finally

Preliminary DNA results have come back for this bird that was trapped and ringed in Ian's Littlesea garden on 5th January 2013.

Thanks to Martin Collinson of Aberdeen University for the information provided below.

Just done a quick run of 665 bp through BLAST and this comes out unambiguously as tristis. 100% identity to tristis Z73482.1 from the Mirnoye Biological Station,Yenisey River, western Siberia, 1-3 bp different from the other Sibe Chiffies we have sequenced from Britain and Ireland, 14 bp different from any abietinus or nominate bird.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Wyke Down

Spent the afternoon at Wyke Down, near Sixpenny Handley with Fred. The Great Grey Shrike show reasonably well, though never close enough for good photos. Other birds seen included Red Kite, Merlin, Barn and Short-eared Owl, though sadly no Hen Harriers.

Great Grey Shrike.

Red Kite.

Short-eared Owl.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Spoonbills Save The Day

Another grotty day was enlivened by 3 Spoonbills on Lodmoor. Otherwise, a single Black Redstart was still in my road and the day finished with Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl in the Camp Road area. Apparently there are 2 Short-eared Owls at Camp Road.

The 2 Spoonbills on the right were giving typical views.

Who could resist more of the Barn Owl.