Portland Heights Birdwatching Breaks
Friday April 13th - Sunday April 15th 2007

reports archive

Superb spring birdwatching in glorious summer weather produced Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail, Bearded Tit, Dartford Warbler and Wood Warbler

click here for a list of species seen over the weekend

Saturday April 14th
Weather: warm sunshine all day with some thin high cloud.

Westcliffs, 0700
Our first walk was through Tout Quarry onto the Westcliffs. The scene was fairly birdless but we did see a lone Swallow and some odds and ends including Cormorants and Great Black-backed Gulls. We walked as far as the Raven nesting site and were rewarded with a good view of one of the Ravens hanging around near the nest. Walking back we found a pair of Stock Doves on a scree slope that we hoped might produce some Ring Ouzels.

Portland Bill, 0900
Plenty of seabirds were seen here, including Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes but the favourites were definitely the flocks of Gannets cruising past. While we were sea-watching a Tree Pipit flew overhead and 2 Purple Sandpipers were found on the rocks.
The Eastcliffs held some very smart Wheatears and we also had good views of several Rock Pipits and a Sandwich Tern.

We were nearly back at the bus when we noticed that a crowd had gathered near the 'Lower Admiralty Fence'. We arrived to be told that a Wryneck had been found here. We soon had it in our 'scopes and enjoyed some remarkable views of this normally very difficult bird. Obtaining good views of tricky species turned out to be the hallmark for this weekend!
For images of the Wryneck (and us watching the Wryneck!) see the Portland Bird Observatory web site at www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk/aa_latestnews.htm.
Southwell, 1130
The Peregrines failed to show up at this normally reliable spot so we went looking for Wall Lizards. This was much more successful with juveniles, adult females and a huge adult male all found in a few minutes searching.

Ferrybridge, 1230
Once we had finished off our sandwiches a search of the distant mudflats revealed a small flock of Dunlins and a Ringed Plovers with a few Turnstones and a solitary Oystercatcher. Several Little Egrets were feeding on the shores of the Fleet and 6 Sandwich Terns were resting on some bouys in mid-channel.
Lodmoor RSPB Reserve, 1400
Almost the first bird we encountered as we entered the reserve was a Cetti's Warbler which sat in full view in a tree at the edge of the path right in front of us. Walking out into the saltmarsh we found a good range of birds the highlight of which was a gorgeous male Yellow Wagtail.

Radipole RSPB Reserve, 1600
As usual a good range of wildfowl here including Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and Ruddy Duck. More close views of Cetti's Warblers were had but the highlight by far was the group of Bearded Tits seen feeding in the reeds just off the path.
Sunday April 15th
Weather: Very similar to Saturday, but with more cloud making the temperatures lower.

Kingbarrow Quarry, 0700
Walking from the hotel we explored one of the oldest existing quarry areas on Portland. Right from the outset it was obvious that a large number of migrants had arrived overnight. Within a few minutes we had seen or heard 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Common Whitethroat, several Blackcaps and Willow Warblers and, a little later, a superb male Redstart. The resident Little Owl was at his usual perch and gave us some good views through the telescope. A Yellowhammer was heard singing in the distance and a pair Stock Dove put in a brief appearance. We returned to the hotel more than ready for our breakfast after a veritable feast of birds!
Arne RSPB Reserve, 1030
In increasingly warm weather we enjoyed a very pleasant walk out through the woodlands to Shipstall Point. One Dartford Warbler was briefly seen by some of the group but all of us saw the herd of 60 or more Sika Deer running through the forest. Several Sand Lizards were found including a very bright male out on the warmest part of the heath. From high above us gulls could be heard calling, 2 of which turned out to be Mediterranean Gulls.
After a rest in the hide we started back to the car park and lunch. We were walking through some woodland when a very distinctive song was heard - a Wood Warbler! Sadly we only managed the briefest of views of this lovely bird but we did enjoy the opportunity to listen to its lovely song.
After lunch we walked out in very hot weather to the hide overlooking Middlebere Lake. On the way we had another brief view of a Dartford Warbler and heard its song several times. From the hide a Black-tailed Godwit was amongst several waders seen sillhouetted against the strong sun. A distant adult Yellow-legged Gull could be seen flying aroung the marshes, soon joined by a first-year bird, looking just like a small first-year Great Black-backed Gull.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a lovely cream tea and added up the total for the weekend - 95 birds altogether!

Looking forward to our next trip out together,

Bob Ford