Portland Bill September ‘19

We needed a holiday after a long year of family commitments, and after a few quick decisions, (and nearly no homework!) ended up with a self catering apartment on Portland, Dorset. It ticked box 1 as dog friendly, box 2 as near the sea and a vague box 3 that we might see some birds there. Little did we know!

Arriving at the island in the rain the striking features were of greyness, bleakness, and sparse vegetation. And that the island seemed to be one large quarry separated by small holdings with rough-coated ponies. Spirits sagged a little, but a night’s sleep and out with the dog into the breeze and we felt better. And day by day we fell in love a little more with its ruggedness, that amazing light, and the huge skies.

The bird life was increasingly interesting day on day, even if this wasn’t a birdwatching holiday, as such. And gradually we became aware that there were serious birdwatching opportunities here : a wryneck in a quarry, a Lapland bunting on the cliffs. Both of which I could have “twitched” if that was my way. They were both within 1/4 mile of where we were staying. I watched a group of birders, many lying on the ground, encircling the little bunting in a way I couldn’t feel comfortable about. I walked the other way.

But chance findings while walking made up for not seeing the rarities, and were very rewarding. Sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel were busy all round the island and flocks of linnet, meadow pipit ducked and weaved. Larks sang all round and Northern wheatear popped up on fence posts left right and centre. Always a photogenic bird!

I think I would one day like to visit the observatory there and learn more about the techniques used : this in part to ease my continuing discomfort about the tension between interference and valid, important study. But also to see some of the beautiful unusual birds that pass through this southernmost point where migratory birds congregate en route to or returning from the continent.

The last in the series of Portland images is a chicory flower, planted near the observatory to provide feed for the finches and other ground-feeding birds.

Portland Bill

World shorebirds day

A great initiative on the sort of scale needed with such an international issue. https://worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com/2019/08/14/let-us-contact-you/

World Shorebirds Day

Bar-tailed Godwit - Alaska
Bar-tailed Godwit at the North Slope Borough, Alaska. Photo by Zak Pohlen

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RSPB Swell Woods April 2019

The opportunity arose to spend a weekend singing Bach on the Somerset Levels, and as luck would have it this small RSPB reserve was 10 minutes away.

The heronry was busy with nesting and courting grey heron and occasional little egret. Weird primitive sounding squawks and croaks filled the air. Restless herons flew in and out of the treetop nests.

Smaller birds busied themselves in the clearing near to the hide including treecreeper, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, marsh tit, wren, robin, and my first goldcrest.

The images are posted above the text.


Steart WWT January 2019

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a fair bit of time at Steart Marshes this year and I’ve pulled together some of my better pictures from January’s visits below. Spoonbills overwintered and were a big hit with the photographers, when we could tear ourselves away from the short-eared owls. The extra high tide 0815h 23 Jan 2019 gave the place a very different appearance, truly awe-inspiring!

The coasts and estuaries of Cornwall

The summer holiday this year was late but just in time to catch the “Indian summer” of early September 2018. The days were long and the weather fair for walking and birdwatching. It was a lovely time.

curlew sl sharper of the 2 Lelant Sept 18
Curlew, Lelant
gannet cruising St Ives Sept 18
Gannet cruises..
gannet stooping St Ives Sept 18
..gannet starts to dive
Goldfinch king of the teasel Lelant Sept 18
Goldfinch, king of the teasel
pair ruffs Lelant Sept 18
Ruffs, Lelant
redshank sharper of 2 Lelant Sept 18
Redshank, Lelant
wheatear windy nr. Padstow Cornwall Sept 2018
Wheatear, nr. Crantock