Thursday, September 29, 2011

Portland again

Nothing rare today but still a few Yellow Wags and Tree Pipits moving and first Redpoll of the season. Also about, Short-eared Owl, Merlin and a couple of White Wagtails

Another obliging Kestrel which I was able to creep up on. Shame there is no easy way of identifying the ring on its leg.

White Wagtail near Bill carpark

Later heard a Little Owl calling from the cliffs under Shepherds Dinner, first time heard them here

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dumb tour? mmm...

Another hopeful trip to Portland for that elusive rarity came up trumps this time. Lots of fog at the start and not many birds. A Grasshopper Warbler was all I could muster. Then the excitement. We were all milling around the Obs, I think it was JD who was just about to leave when Prof said "dont go yet John" in a rather serious manner! There was a bird being processed and we knew it was going to be a good one.
It was very quickly pronounced a Blyth's Reed Warbler A. dumetorum

On the tail there is a clear change of shade. I remember some time ago this being mentioned as a good way to age a bird as a first winter.
Whilst growing in the nest, the young bird may suffer food shortages so any available nourishment is re-directed to the most important parts of the bird. The tail will then get whats left, if there is nothing it will stop growing altogether to be resumed when the food supply picks up. The tail quality suffers at this point and shows up as a different shade of colour.
There is another option of an adult loosing its tail completely and during the process of regrowth it suffers the same period of food shortage with the same resultant band.
Thanks Shaun for confirming all this.

Numbering the primaries ascendantly you can see there are emarginations on P3 P4 and P5. (remembering that the outermost P1 cannot be seen as it is so short ). A Reed Warbler would usually only show an emargination on p3 for example.

In the hand the primary projection looked longer than I expected. Measurements later revealed that it was just outside the usual range for Blyth's Reed.
The other thing that seemed slightly unusual was the bill tip colour, the lower mandible of which are usually diffusely tipped dark.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Portland etc

Started from Southwell this morning and walked along the east cliffs. The south west winds meant that there was a fair passage of birds heading along the cliffs into the wind. In about an hour and a half had over 253 Mipits, 205 Linnets, 74 Siskin, 5 Grey Wags, 5 Yellow Wags and 4 Tree Pipit. Also Grey Heron out to sea.
A Whinchat and 19 Wheatears on the deck

Local Kestrel hanging around the small quarry with the hut

Up to the top fields with another 15 Greenland type Wheatears and a few inquisitive horses

Painted Lady Southwell, also a Small Copper there

Then rather mercifully, news of a Red-backed Shrike at Lodmoor saw me heading off the island

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Off to see the Pallid Harrier today. First Harrier to show however was this male Hen.

After about 30 mins the main course arrived, rather majestically making its way along the strip left for the pheasants. An amazing looking bird.

Just a light grey bar along the trailing edge showing well here

'Boa' very obvious, even at long range

Friday, September 16, 2011


Some early morning overhead stuff mainly involving Mipits and Yellow Wags. A flock of 120 House Martins south was note worthy with around 200 south in 30 mins but then fizzling out.
Also a steady movement of Red Admirals south and the first Clouded Yellow

Things a bit quiet really so had to resort to some seawatching. This turned out to be pretty productive with a Sabines Gull, 7 Balearics, and 3 Arctic Skuas past.
After leaving some rather upset people on the veranda who didnt get onto the Sabines in time stopped off at Ferrybridge where there were 4 juv Little Stints

And a Dunlin

Couple of intermedius LBBG out on the mud

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 4 Brownsea

Kicked off with a rather vocal Firecrest seen in the garden from the bedroom window. Unfortunately too quick for the camera. As I could also see the lagoon from here, decided to a quick 'garden' list notching up 45 species.
The bright start came to an abrupt end with the arrival of a westerly front. The rain however provided a photographic opportunity when it put down some passing Swallows onto wires just outside the window. Light levels a bit low though.

One last visit to the lagoon before I had to go produced 5 Barwit new in, 8 Knot and the obligatory Spoonbills. Bit to dull for photos though.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 3 Brownsea

Up again pre dawn to see what was heading out. Not a great deal this morning, only a handful of Terns with most of yesterdays having already moved on.

Checked the lagoon but no sign of last nights Buff-breast today.

Spoonbills flushed by something. Didnt see the culprit.

Juv Teal feeding just outside the hide

Islands busy with Blackwits, most now in winter plumage with the odd orange bird

Juv Blackwit with a few adult winter scapulars now appearing

From the other side

Much plainer adult bird

Colour ringed bird. Think all my records have have turned out to be from birds ringed on the Icelandic breeding grounds apart from a few ringed by Pete Potts in Langstone.

Every now and then the sun would break through lighting up the subject

Teal coming in to land

Colour ringed Avocet. Have to get back to you on that one

Juv Shelduck, with shiny green speculum glinting in the sunlight