Portland Heights Birdwatching Breaks
Friday April 7th - Sunday April 9th 2006

reports archive

Excellent birdwatching in beautiful Spring weather, with a Garganey the star bird.

click here for a list of species seen over the weekend

Saturday April 8th
Weather: cold north-westerly wind with extended warm sunny spells.
Portland Bill, 0700
Probably the most noteworthy sighting here was the remarkable flock of 200+ Kittiwakes feeding just off the cliffs along with dozens of Guillemots and Razorbills. Several groups of Gannets were seen moving up the Channel and a flock of Common Scoter were settled offshore. A lone Purple Sandpiper was seen resting on the cliffs.
Kingbarrow Quarry, 0930
The resident pair of Little Owls gave some excellent views whilst Swallows moved north in small but regular parties. Walking on to the cliffs at Grove Point we found several Blackcaps singing in the scrub under the cliffs. A large and very well-marked female Adder was basking in the sunshine - as in this photo taken earlier in the week. A couple of House Martins put in an appearance as we walked through the nearby Admiralty Quarry.
Penn Weare, 1200
Walking along the disused railway line we saw the first butterflies of the weekend - a Speckled Wood and a Peacock. Lunch was had watching some very dramatic climbing techniques and enjoying the sunshine. Further on we found the resident pair of Ravens on the same stretch of cliff with several pairs of Fulmars and a very smart male Peregrine. On the way back we could hear a Redstart calling in the bushes but sadly couldn't see it.

Ferrybridge, 1500
Ringed Plover and Turnstones were on the tidal mud-flats here with several Sandwich Terns flying over to Chesil Beach.
Lodmoor, 1600
In warm sunshine we spent a very pleasant hour here with close views of Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Shelduck and most remarkably a male Garganey. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs flitted around the bushes while Skylarks sang overhead. The only wader seen was a Black-tailed Godwit feeding in a pool nearby.
Sunday April 9th
Weather: Very similar to Saturday, with a brief hail shower in the afternoon.

Portland Bill, 0700
A little less to see compared to yesterday, and very cold again, but we still had an enjoyable hour waiting for seabirds to appear off the Bill. Our patience was rewarded by a solitary Great Skua, sadly too far out for all the group to see. As we got back to the vehicle a Peregrine appeared over the MOD buildings trying in vain to catch a pigeon.

We returned to the Bill after breakfast and after confirming at the Bird Observatory that there really was very little to see managed to find a few Wheatears on the Eastcliffs. The fields here held dozens of Skylarks; the sound of their massed voices was astounding.

Barleycrates Lane, 1100
A pleasant walk out to the cliffs here with one notable observation - a Wheatear coughing up a pellet which on close inspection was found to contain bits of tiny black beetles. A grubby-looking Fox dozing in a field next to the path started a discussion as to the reasons for its dark underparts - was it a colour variety, mange or just dirt?

Ferrybridge, 1200
The waders here included a Sanderling along with the other waders seen yesterday. Also a Raven put in an appearance over Chesil Beach.

Langton Herring, 1300
This remote part of the Fleet added Redshank and Grey Plover to the list along with a good number of Pintail and a few Wigeon. Little Egrets were also seen here but the star bird, a gorgeous male Yellow Wagtail was only seen by the leader as it flew overhead (the wagtail that is, not the leader).
Radipole, 1600
We finished the weekend with a very productive walk around this excellent RSPB reserve in the middle of Weymouth. The best bird seen in terms of its rarity was a 2nd year Yellow-legged Gull but I got the impression that most of the group preferred the drake Ruddy Duck that was swimming up and down just in front of it. Spring was clearly in the air with Mallards and Wood Pigeons too concerned with courtship to worry about some nutter with a camera.

Other birds seen included Great-crested and Little Grebes, a Snipe and a Cetti's Warbler.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a lovely cream tea and added up the total for the weekend - 88 species!

Looking forward to our next trip out together,

Bob Ford