Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Portland - 25th September

It was my birthday today and so I took the day off to go birding. In previous years I have visited the Isles of Scilly but now that Tobias is at school this was not an option so I had decided to spend the day at Portland. The alarm went off at 04:30 and after a few coffee’s I was off and in the main car park at the Bill at 06:45 just as it was getting light. As I opened the car door I could here large numbers of Meadow Pipit and Linnet passing overhead with a few Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. Off the Bill a pod of around 15 Bottle-nosed Dolphin with around five calves were showing well as they frolicked around a fishing boat. I wandered towards the observatory firstly walking the perimeter of the Pulpit Inn and then to the quarry and past the bushes on the western boundary of the observatory. Large numbers of Meadow Pipit and Linnet were clearly on the move, there were at least 15 Wheatear in the fields while the bushes held good numbers of warblers with three Blackcap and eight Chiffchaff in the observatory quarry.

In the observatory garden there were around five Chiffchaff, two Willow Warbler and a smart Yellow-browed Warbler but no sign of the Greenish Warbler that had been trapped and ringed yesterday although the bird had been showing earlier in the morning. After around 1.5 hours looking for the Greenish Warbler I decided that I would rather go birding so wandered along to Culverwell, up over the Top Fields to the West Cliffs, along Sweet Hill Lane to Southwell and back along the East Cliffs to the observatory. There were large numbers of Linnet, Meadow Pipit and good numbers of Swallow with a few Sand Martin and House Martin passing over. In the fields there were a scatter of Wheatear, probably 10 in total, and two Whinchat. The Sycamores at the north-west end of Sweet Hill Lane held a single Chiffchaff and a Spotted Flycatcher. Back at the observatory the Greenish Warbler had shown again and so I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon looking for it. Within around 30 minutes I had a view of the Greenish Warbler along the access drive the observatory and over the next hour or two it showed fairly well on and off. It was quite a washed out and worn adult bird with a very indistinct wing bar. The was a new British bird for me, I had previously only seen Two-barred Greenish Warbler in the UK, the first British record on Gugh, Isle of Scilly in 1987. The Yellow-browed Warbler also showed well on and off and I spent and enjoyable couple of hours with these birds. It was 15:00 and time to head for home, a brief stop at The Fleet produced little of note. I had had a good day with a British tick and a lifer moth (see below).

Greenish Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory

Greenish Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory

Greenish Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory

Greenish Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory

Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory

Bottle-nosed Dolphin (two adult and a calf) off Portland Bill early AM

Portland Lighthouses

Wheatear - Top Fields, Portland

Raven - West Cliffs, Portland

Kestrel - Reap Lane, Portland

Kestrel - Reap Lane, Portland 

Ziton Jack-up Vessel off the East Cliffs, Portland - The large struts extend down to the seabed raising the vessel from the water to create a stable platform. These vessels are used to service offshore wind farms.

Beautiful Gothic from the observatory moth trap. This is a Red Data Book 
species and a new moth for me.

Beautiful Gothic from the observatory moth trap

Goldspot from the observatory moth trap

East Cliffs viewed north, Portland

My days totals were as follows:

Goldcrest - 3
Skylark - 17
Swallow - 240
Sand Martin - 5
House Martin - 25
Willow Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 35
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1
Greenish Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 6
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Wheatear - 15
Stonechat - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 9
Reed Bunting - 1

An account of the day on the Portland Bird Observatory blog can be viewed here