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.