Portland Heights Birdwatching Breaks
Friday October 20th - Sunday October 22nd 2006

reports archive

Braving some atrocious weather we persevered and found a fantastic variety of birds including Ring Ouzels, Mediterranean Gulls and Kingfishers.

click here for a list of species seen over the weekend

Saturday October 21st
Weather: largely dry with a strong southerly wind.

Portland Bill, 0900
We saw one of the best birds of the dat as soon as we left the bus when a Merlin dashed past us chasing Linnets through the quarry next to the car park. Reaching the sea we started finding seabirds; Shags, Cormorants, Gannets, auks (Guillemot/Razorbills) and a distant Common Gull. The best seabird was a skua, sadly too far out to be sure whether it was an Arctic or a Pomarine.

We then walked along the Westcliffs, from where we saw a Great Northern Diver flying past. The fields here were full of Skylarks and Linnets, with several Kestrels and a Peregrine hunting amongst them.
Tout Quarry, 1130
The Westcliffs at the north end of the island are a traditional stopping-off point for Ring Ouzels and today held several of these normally elusive birds. One or two Redwings were with them feeding on the Cotoneaster berries.
Portland Castle, 1230
The south-west corner of Portland Harbour was very quiet today with just a few Turnstones on the beach and some Mallard on the edge of the heliport.

Ferrybridge, 1300
A good selection of waders here including Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Bar-tailed Godwits and a Curlew. Two Mediterranean Gulls gave us close views of their immaculate white wings.
Church Ope Cove, 1400
Hoping to find some migrants in one of the few wooded areas of Portland we searched the Elms and Sycamores but were rewarded with only fleeting views of Goldcrests. We enjoyed the landscape though and the best spell of weather all weekend.

Chesil Cove, 1600
With the wind increasing we visited the southern end of Chesil Beach where seabirds often collect in gales. This afternoon there were more Mediterranean Gulls here along with some very smart first-year Kittiwakes. A late Wheatear allowed to approach very close as it fed on the sea wall.
Sunday October 22nd
Weather: Rain on and off all day with a strengthening southerly wind.

Ferrybridge, 0900
A flock of 150 or so Brent Geese persuaded us to make an unsheduled stop here. Close examination revealed that all were adults, possibly indicating a poor breeding season in the Arctic for this species.

Langton Herring, 0930
With the rain more or less stopped we enjoyed this walk through some of the best scenery in Dorset. A Merlin was the best find, but there were plenty of other birds including large numbers of Wigeon on the Fleet. Even rarer were the 3 Ruddy Ducks - hardly ever seen at this site before.

Lodmoor, 1200
Heavy rain failed to stop us walking out to this famous reserve and we were rewarded (or at least some of the party were) with close views of fighting Kingfishers. A pair of Black-tailed Godwits were seen from the shelter of the 'shelter' and one of the group probably saw a Water Vole. We all saw lots of rain.

Radipole, 1300
After an extended lunch and a near mutiny we finally left the bus just as the rain stopped. The walk out to the hide produced more wildfowl including Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard. From the hide itself we added Gadwall to the list and had a good view through the telescope of a large female Sparrowhawk sat on a fence post. Back at the car park we finished the day with 3 or 4 first year Yellow-legged Gulls and yet another Mediterranean Gull.

Finally we enjoyed a lovely cream tea and added up the total for the weekend - 82 species!

Looking forward to our next trip out together,

Bob Ford