Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Birding at Portland

Last Sunday I went with a couple of birding friends down to Portland Bill for a day of birding. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day. Portland Bill is a great place for migrating birds both in Spring and Autumn as it sticks well out into the English Channel (the stretch of sea between Britain and France).Every Sunday whatever the weather, they test the foghorn at the lighthouse for 1/2 an hour at around 10am. The terrific noise is not exactly condusive to relaxing birding! I wish I could somehow get the sound here on my blog for you all to enjoy!!! (-:While we were wandering around searching out possible migrating birds, this fox trotted out of the ivy.He didn't notice me at first, but then clocked me and within a second, had slipped back into the dense Ivy behind.The next bird is one I've shown before in previous posts, but Meadow Pipits are often kind enough to pose on prominent perches and so are difficult to resist.Notice the long hind claw on this bird which is a diagnostic feature. The tail seems short, but maybe it's had an encounter with a cat or something.I was really confused by this next bird below. Usually its not too difficult to tell what a bird is straight off. The size, shape, the way it is flying all add up to being able to identify a bird pretty quickly usually. This bird was about the size of a Buzzard, but didn't look right in shape or style of flight. I was at a loss for an ID> I banged off a couple of shots in the hope of getting something on the camera that I could recognise. When I looked later, I could see the remains of Jesse's. This was obviously an escaped falcon from somewhere, likely a Saker Falcon which isn't native to Britain.Here's another bird that I love to photograph. They nearly always pose so beautifully, no skulking with a Northern Wheatear.There were several Wheatears on Portland Bill just waiting for the right conditions to make that flight across the English Channel and on down to Africa for the winter.After spending some time at the Bill, we drove back off Portland to bird at the RSPB reserve of Lodmoor which is just east of the town of Weymouth. This is a great spot for migrating waders (shorebirds). We saw Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew Sandpipers, Common and Green Sandpipers and just one Avocet which I caught in flight in the photo at the end of this post. I don't know what this red stuff was, but it was a lovely colour against the channels of water.Dragonfly activity seems to have slowed down quite alot, but I did manage to catch of shot of this Migrant Hawker (looking a bit tatty).Here is the flight shot of the Avocet. We had only just set up our scopes to enjoy this bird when it took flight (there was a Peregrine in the area which put up all the birds). They are graceful birds that are now doing quite well in this country. All in all, a nice days birding on the south coast.

18 comments:

Roy said...

Brilliant Jen. You have a lovely and varied set of images here. The Wheatear is perfect. I did read about the Falcon on the Portland Bird Obs site as well. Its such a great place to visit and bird watch for such a small peninsula. If someone reported seeing an elephant on Portland I would believe them, as you see and read about so many different wildlife its amazing. Great Post.

Chris said...

Hi Jenny,
Wonderful post. I guess you got a very nice day seeing all this. I also guess that I do know now where are our meadow pipit and northern wheatear. There are very left over here, they all went to visit you. Take care of them while they are around!

Eve said...

This is wonderful Jenny! Great pictures and a great find with the falcon. I do love that Wheatear. There was one back up north that everyone ran to see...but me!
Thanks for bringing us!

Eve said...

OH! That fox is just beautiful!

Mary said...

Lovely shots! I think we are probably glad not to have the foghorn :-) What a pretty fox and if he was only there a few seconds than you were very fast with those great photos. That claw on the Meadow Pipit seems so odd...I've never seen a pipit of any type, but it looks great sitting there on that post. How nice to get to see the falcon since it is not a usual bird for the area. That Wheatear posed nicely, too. You had a great day!

Quiet Paths said...

Really amazing how you get those birds (and fox) to pose for you. Do you have magical words which you whisper to them? *grin* Another stunning visit to the water's edge.

Jenny said...

Well it just so happens that I did see a elephant down there Roy! Shame I didn't get a piccy though! (-:

Hi Chris, yes, thanks for sending your feathered friends down to me, very kind of you! (-:

Hi Evie, A Northern Wheatear would be quite a big twitch over in America. Sorry you didn't get to see it, they are lovely birds!

Hi Mary, yes it was a great day. That fox was a real bonus. I do wonder why that Meadow Pipit evolved that long back claw.

Ah Christine, if only you knew how frustrated I get cos I can't generally get close enough to those pesky birds!!! (-:

Kelly said...

What a lovely day birding. I can only imagine what it must have been like standing next to a blaring fog horn! The little Pipits are adorable. You clearly captured that extra long nail...it really is long! I always enjoy looking at photo of the Wheatears...Warren had some too...something very serene and beautiful about them.

Kelly said...

p.s. Love the fox. How lucky that he ran out and posed for you!

The Early Birder said...

Hi Jen. Great location & brought back a few memories including seawatching in howling winds & rain, but that's another story!
Nice to capture the Wheatears before they leave us until next year. FAB

Shelley said...

I love how you had a little bit of everything in this post! Lighthouses, cute birds, neat dragonfly and a handsome fox!!

Rural Rambler said...

The Meadow Pipit on the fence post, what a great capture! The fox is beautiful and is he ever giving you the "who the heck are you?" look. He has a wonderful face.

Glad you had a nice day Birding at Portland!

Roy said...

I reckon you had been at that cider.!!

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, yes, foghorns and birding really don't mix! (-: Wheatear has got to be one of my fav British birds.

Hi Frank, been there done that too with the wind and rain at Portland. Makes for an amazing sea doesn't it! It's always sad to see the summer migrants go, but then we can look forward to welcoming them back in spring! (-:

Hi Shelley, yes it was a good all round day out. There is always something to see and photograph down at Portland!

Hi Pix, yes that is a bit of a look isn't it! I don't think he wanted to hang around to make my aquaintence! (-:

Hi Roy, what make you think that??? Hic! (-:

dog trot farm said...

Jenny when I saw the title of your post "Birding in Portland" I thought you were here in Maine. If you ever travel across the pond to New England you make sure to look me up!

John said...

Jen,

What a stunning day you had on Portland, the photographs are wonderful as always. I cannot wait for my weekend trip in October.

Did you see the Little Owl in the Obs Quarry.

John

Jenny said...

Hi Julie, I thought Portland was in Oregon? I guess there must be another one near you! (-: If I ever get over to visit Evie, I thought it would be fun if you could get down there too!

Hi John, it was a good day, Oct down there should be good. I left a msg about Little Owl on your blog.

Steve B said...

Wonderful! I'm just digging the bird/lighthouse combo.