Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Portland - final post.

There are many places on Portland to go to look for Divers (Loons) and Grebes in winter. Two such places are Portland Castle and Sandsfoot Castle both of which overlook Portland harbour. In a southwesterly wind this harbour is pretty sheltered. With the help of scopes we were able to pick out Great Northern (Common Loon), Black throated Diver (similar to Pacific Loon), Slavonian Grebe (Horned Grebe), Black-necked Grebe (Eared Grebe) and Great Crested Grebe. We also had many Red breasted Mergansers and a Short-eared Owl flying low over the water which was mobbed by Gulls.At Portland Castle we saw this handsome male Black Redstart. This is not a common breeding bird in Britain and is mainly a winter visitor to our coastal areas from Europe.At Sandsfoot Castle, we were treated to this Kestrel concentrating on trying to get a meal. I got quite close, but the gloomy light was not good for photography by that time in the day.
Our last stop of the day was at Radipole Lake in the centre of Weymouth town. This is an RSPB reserve with a large lake and extensive reed beds. This stunning male Hooded Merganser has taken up residence there over several months. There is still debate as to whether this is a wild bird that has been blown over from America or an escape. Either way, it is a very handsome bird.
This Little Grebe was tantalisingly just out of reach for getting a good shot! This one is in drab winter plumage. In summer they have a striking chestnut side to the head.For some reason, I never seem to get a nice sharp photo of Moorhens, perhaps I need to try some spot metering as discussed by Roy www.fenlandwalker.blogspot.com and Steve www.shootingmyuniverse.blogspot.com . Here is an adult and below a young bird.
As I was photographing the Moorhens, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted Ratty running along the lake shore.The weather forecast for this day hadn't been good, but we took the risk of driving down and in the end had a fabulous day full of great birds.

9 comments:

Shellmo said...

That Hooded Merganser was so stunning! And I'm so jealous you got to see Loons! (I just did a post on them today on my log cabin blog.) I'm counting the days until their return to Michigan in the spring!

Jenny said...

Hi Shelley, at least you can console yourself with the fact that I saw them distantly and in winter plumage! (-: It must be amazing to see them in the spring and summer, I will be the jealous one then!

Roy said...

Hi Jen,
A great final post with lots of really nice images.
The Black Redstart, Wow!!

Eve said...

I'm so glad you braved the weather Jenny Wren! Yes that Merganser is really beautiful. I had some in my pond this spring. That redstart is really a beauty!! This was another great series!
PS love the ratty ratster!

Mary said...

What a great selection! I think the Redstart is very pretty. I'm as curious about the castles you are climbing around as the birds. We just don't have castles here :-) Beautiful Merganser! I bet Ratty was a surprise and you got a good shot of him!

Quiet Paths said...

I don't know these photos seem pretty top notch to me. Really beautiful. The Kestrel I've never seen up close. You are really seeing a variety.

Jenny said...

Hi Roy, yes that Black Red is a stunner of a bird, just very flitty when I tried to get closer to him.

Howdy Evie, we're glad we didn't wimp out cos of the weather too. Ratty was a surprise bonus at the end of the day. (-:

Hi Mary, well I should really have taken some pics of those castles, they're both pretty much ruins. I wonder if you'd get any info on them if you googled them?

Hi Christine, that is kind of you to say, but please take a look at Steves 'shooting my universe' blog if you want to see some really stunning photography! I really enjoy doing it though and am always hopeful for improvement.

Celeste said...

What a great series of photos, looks like you had a great day of birding. The Black Redstart would have to be my favorite having never seen one myself.

Jenny said...

Hi Celeste, sorry not to have replied earlier, have just been away for the weekend up to Norfolk for birding. I'll hopefully have a posting on that early next week. Yes, that Black Redstart is such a smart looking bird.