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, 27 July 2014

A Little Teaser For You Dragonfly Buffs

What Is This?

© Karen Spencer.

Dragonflies In A Day In Weymouth

Yesterday I had noticed Small Red-eyed Damselflies at a couple of new sites in Weymouth. This got me fired up, to see how many species I could see in a day at the end of July, in Weymouth. My first destination was Upwey, where I saw 3 species. One of these was a Weymouth tick for me.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

This superb female was very obliging.

A little later, I saw this male. Due to a limited supply of suitable habitat, this is a scarce species in Weymouth.

Migrant Hawker

Always nice to see a female for a change. A common species in Weymouth.

Also added at Upwey was a Common Darter.

Having failed on one of my target species, I moved onto the River Wey, just downstream from Radipole Village, only to find the target species I had missed earlier. Another Weymouth tick too.

Beautiful Demoiselle

This stunning male was the first of this species I'd seen at this site, so was completely unexpected. A real bonus. For the same reasons as Golden-ringed Dragonfly, this is a scarce species in Weymouth.

Banded Demoiselle

A gorgeous male. This was the reason for visiting this site. A common species on parts of the River Wey.

Black-tailed Skimmer

Male. A common species locally.

The only other species added to the day total here was Common Blue Damselfly. So 7 species under the belt.

My final destination of the day was the local dragonfly mecca that is Bennetts Water Gardens. Here, 2 of the days tally of species, I failed to photograph. They were singles of Southern Hawker and Four-spotted Chaser. The latter is only ever seen in small numbers in Weymouth. 2 species seen earlier in the day, but photographed at Bennetts were,

Common Darter


Common Blue Damselfly


Bringing the days tally to a respectable 15 species, the following were observed at Bennetts.

Blue-tailed Damselfly


Emperor Dragonfly

Male in flight.

Female egg laying.

Azure Damselfly


Ruddy Darter

A cracking male. This species is scarce in Weymouth.

Red-eyed Damselfly

A beautiful male. The species stronghold in Weymouth is Bennetts, where it is doing well. This species has recently spread to Radipole Lake, albeit in small numbers, otherwise, it's only been recorded just outside of Bennetts, at nearby Granby Ponds.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Male. It's fair to say that I have a soft spot for this species, as I found the first ever Dorset records at this very site.

This species is certainly having a good year locally and was super abundant at this site today, being the commonest damselfly species present. Here is a male in flight.

A tandem pair.

Another tandem pair, this time on one of the lily pads.

It's certainly not cheap to get into Bennetts Water Gardens, but it is a beautiful little place and just teaming with dragonflies and well worth a visit.

Back to last weekend now and a little saunter over to Abbotsbury Swannery to see a Black Tern.

Moulting adult with a Common Tern.
And whilst on the subject of black.

A Black-tailed Godwit outside the meadow hide at Abbotsbury Swannery.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Bit Of Dragonfly News

Went to check on a couple of Damselfly species local to my home. First off, Small Red-eyed Damselfly. In Weymouth, this species is best seen at Bennetts Water Gardens, but can also be seen at Granby Ponds, Chickerell Downs and has also been seen at Radipole Lake. For those wishing to see them without paying to go into Bennetts Water Gardens, it's best now to go to Chickerell Downs. Take the turning for Bennetts Water Gardens and a little way on from it's entrance is an area to pull in and park the car. Go through the gate, the path splits shortly after the gate, take the path that leads off to the right and after a few yards the pool is visible in front of you. This site offers good views with binoculars. Sadly, Granby Ponds is now very overgrown and a telescope is needed for views of them at this site.

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly at Chickerell Downs today.

Next, I went to check Tidmoor rifle range. This was the only known site for Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly in the Weymouth and Portland area after two former sites, one on Portland and one in Weymouth were lost. Sadly, due to lack of management, this site has become too overgrown and thus, the last remaining site has also been lost. They were never numerous at any of the sites, but certainly the Tidmoor site had the potential to be managed in such a way as to encourage the species to prosper. Sadly, when I first found them there and told relevant authorities of their existence, I was met with a complete lack of interest. I pretty much knew they were doomed because of that. There is still hope I may find the species again locally, but any site found is doomed unless the site is managed specifically for it's needs.

Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly at Tidmoor in 2010.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Two Dorset Ticks, But They're Not Birds

As you may, or may not be aware, I've had a bit of a bad spell recently, some of it of course, brought on by myself. 78 people responded to the poll about the blog and to it's supporters, I give you a heartfelt thankyou. To it's, or rather, my detractors, I can only ask, why on earth do you read or look at this shit. I don't know, maybe it's so you can stick and twist the knife in further to my increasingly screwed up head. Anyway, I think I have paid for my sins, having lost my job. Luckily though, having been out of work for just one day, I landed myself another full-time job, which I started last Wednesday. I can only hope I turn a few corners from this and that my utter hatred for living will eventually subside. It is only my wife and daughters that keep me going. The nature thing is purely an escape from reality, albeit, an extremely pleasurable one.

Anyway, back to them ticks, and I'm not on about blood suckers. Last Friday I took the opportunity to look for Continental Swallowtail butterflies that had been seen at St. Aldhelms Head. The weather wasn't perfect, but luckily the weather broke for a short period, during which I managed to see 2 individuals. Both were tatty, but beggars can be choosers and I'm sure there will be another chance to see some pristine individuals when, hopefully, a second brood emerges. 

Individual 1.

The far tattier individual 2.

Back to yesterday now. And thanks to Nick for a great day out. The target species this time was Purple Emperor. We managed to see only 1, but 1 is all you need.

Only the one record shot was managed.

I've now seen 49 species of butterfly in Dorset. I wonder what will be my 50th?

Now for a few pics from recent times.

Baby Moorhen on Lodmoor.

Oystercatcher on Lodmoor.

Raven on Portland.

Guillemots on Portland.

Kittiwakes on Portland.

Female Southern Hawker in Wareham Forest.

Male Downy Emerald in Wareham Forest.

Baby Sika Deer in Wareham Forest.

Male Yellowhammer at Batcombe.

Tufted Duck family at Radipole Lake.

Baby Little Grebes at Radipole Lake.

Male Marsh Harrier with rodent prey.

Juvenile Peregrines at St. Aldhelms Head.