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, 25 October 2014

Radipole Lake


Ahhh, shit!!

Oh, for fuck sake!!!

Thank goodness for that. The 1st-winter female Long-tailed Duck. Note the new rufous fringed, black centered adult feathers coming through in the scapulars and how they contrast with the duller juvenile scapulers. 

The ill defined head pattern also belies it's age.

Long-tailed Ducks are rare birds at Radipole lake.

Green Sandpipers on North Pool.

Adult female Marsh Harrier from North Hide.

Highlight of the day though, was finding one of three Yellow-browed Warblers. Initially, hearing and seeing one. Then hearing another, whilst watching one and later seeing both together. And finally, seeing another one later on, that had also been reported. A record day count for the reserve. And I only saw 2 Chiffchaffs.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

An Anniversary

On this day 17 years ago, this beasty was found at Osmington Mills. © Graham Armstrong.

Despite the arrival of a Pallas's Warbler the previous day on Portland, whilst on that very day, 17 years ago, Radde's Warblers turning up in Cornwall and Scillies and Red-flanked Bluetail turning up in the Midlands and Rufous Turtle Dove and White's Thrush turning up in France, it can't be wild.

As you can see from the picture above, the sky above the Siberian Rubythroat, shows that this bird is perched on top of the bush. They just don't do that. What do you mean, what sky? Can't you see it?

Another damning case for this bird not being wild, is that it was not on Shetland or the East coast. Birds like this just don't do that, there are boundaries, you know!

Also, if you're totally delusional, you can go to any car park in Weymouth and pick up a selection of grotty Sibe vagrants and then set them free on the nearby coast. Apparently, the same thing happens at Cley with yank vagrants. I mean, come on guys and girls, yank vagrants on the East coast, get real.

So, I've taken the huge step to only count species on my list that are realistic candidates in my area. For an example, if I lived on Malta, or in Lebanon, my list would be 0. So, off come the plastics, the boat hoppers and the back of van grotty Sibes. Pallas's Warbler on Portland? Pleeease, get real.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


When a bird trusts you with your presence, I find the experience totally amazing and such a privilage. When it's a bird as great as a Northern Wheatear, it's absolutely captivating. This bird was by Portland Castle this afternoon.

Just going back a bit, but forgot to mention a flyover Dotterel I had at Portland Bill on 28th September.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

So, I've Decided To Blog Again

Sure, this is gonna please some people and also, it may exasperate others. Thing is, you can't please everyone all of the time. I hope to make this blog more informative in some way, don't really know how quite yet, so, a work in progress kind of thing.

Anyway, I'd better catch up on a few things.

2nd August

Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour.

9th August

Female Map butterfly in Dorset. The fat abdomen sexes this individual. Strange story behind these, with someone claiming to have released them. If true, this is very sad, as when they do colonise naturally, we will always question their authenticity. A real shame.

Adult female Scaup at Abbotsbury Swannery.

Male Beautiful Demoiselle at Abbotsbury Swannery. A stunning insect. One of my favourites.

11th August

1st-calender year Yellow-legged Gull at Radipole Lake. Note the pattern of the greater coverts and the extent of new 1st-winter feathers in the scapulars. Herring and Lesser Black-backs should still be, basically, in juvenile plumage at this time.

Same individual as above. Note the wing and tail pattern. The inner primary pattern is like a halfway house between Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Juvenile Common Gull at Radipole Lake. We don't get to see them in this plumage down here that often.

24th August

More on the gull theme at Radipole Lake and interesting to compare with the Yellow-legged Gull above.

Herring Gull that is just starting it's moult into 1st-winter plumage. Note the inner primary and tail pattern and pale notching in the median coverts. The latter like miniature versions of the rear scapulars.

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. Note the petite structure and long rear ended look. Note the less notch appearance of the median/lesser coverts, compared with Herring Gull. 

The above two photos show the variation in 1st-year Lesser Black-backed Gull tail patterns.

30th August

Balearic Shearwaters off Portland Bill. Part of a good movement off the Bill that day. Also saw a single Sooty Shearwater.

31st August

Juvenile Spotted Redshank on Lodmoor. A surprisingly scarce bird in the Weymouth/Portland area.

A gorgeous Clouded Yellow on Lodmoor.

Redstart on Lodmoor.

6th September

Nightingale in the Obs quarry at Portland Bill.

Osprey over Portland. One of three I saw that day.

White Wagtail at Portland Bill. Note the grey rump and overall clean look of this bird.

Kingfisher at Radipole Lake.

7th September

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Radipole Lake.

A ridiculously confiding 1st-year Yellow-legged Gull at Radipole Lake. Photo taken with camera phone. 

13th September

Juvenile Little Stint at Radipole Lake.

Spotted Redshank moulting from juvenile to 1st-winter plumage. How startling is that gleaming white underwing?

20th September

Atrocious record shot of the juv/1st-winter Masked Shrike at Spurn. Seen much better through a telescope, of course. A lifer for me and obviously, a very educational bird. Also saw a Red-breasted Flycatcher up the road from this bird.

21st September

A very confiding Wryneck at Portland Bill.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Portland Bill. Check out the streaking on the breast of this bird, not something I've noticed before.

Tree Pipit at Portland Bill.

27th September

A very skulky Barred Warbler at Portland Bill.

28th September

Wryneck in the hand at Portland Bird Observatory. I never get bored with seeing these beauties.

29th September

1st-year Siberian Lesser Whitethroat at Portland Bill. More on this bird in the previous post.

2nd October

Female Bearded Reedling at Littlesea, The Fleet. One of two at this site and a Littlesea tick for me.

A gorgeous male Bearded Reedling in the hand at Radipole Lake.

3rd October

Avocet at Radipole Lake. A good bird for this site. Saw a Bittern whilst watching this bird.

4th October

1st-winter Turtle Dove on Portland. Travel safely my friend.

And finally, the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling on Portland.

Note the slightly darker wings and tail and paler rump.

With friends.

Note the distinctive gait, with it's wings slightly drooped and tail slightly cocked.

Oh, mustn't forget the Western Bonelli's Warbler at Portland Bill on 16th August that was a lifer for me, but unfortunately, didn't manage to photograph it. 

Hope I haven't bored you too much, but there was a lot to catch up on.