Portland and Weymouth (Leaders: Lucy & Phillip Delve)
was a joint coach excursion with Bath Nats and Bath RSPB local group. We
arrived at Ferrybridge at 10.30, in time for the1.5 metre high tide, intent on
viewing wading birds from the Visitor Centre. In the distance, veiled by light
mist there were both Little and Sandwich Terns. On the harbour shore, a wreck
of jellyfish and in all directions beautiful swaths of pink Thirft, but no
wading birds on the shoreline! However those people who ventured along the
Chesil bank, towards the Little Tern colony, were rewarded with reasonable
views of Wheatear, Linnet, Skylarks, Little Tern, along with some 60 Dunlin and
10 Ringed Plover at roost on the shingle.
Gannet. photo by Tim Lock
coach parked at Portland Bill at 12.30 and while a few people chose to eat
their lunch on the coach, most joined us on nearby rocky ledges from which we
could view the seabird colony on West Cliff and the sea below. Bird species seen included Guillemot, Razorbill,
Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Rock Pipit, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls. A
few lucky people also saw a Puffin on the sea, a scarce breeding bird along the
party of 34 formed two groups, which proceeded in opposite directions on a
circular route. Those who walked to the Upper Lighthouse on West Cliff saw
Stonechat, Peregrine Falcon, Raven and Fulmar. The other group walked down to
the Obelisk where Peter Basterfield, who had spent 30 minutes sea watching with
a telescope, had seen a Great Skua well out to sea. All afternoon we could see
the steady passage of Swallows and Martins moving inland off the sea.
Observatory we were permitted to examine moths caught the previous night in the
warden’s light trap and held back for release later that evening. Species
included, Knot Grass, Flame Shoulder, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Heart & Dart and
Rustic Shoulder-knot. The bird ringers were also busy processing migrants
caught in mist-nets, prior to release. Some of us were shown a Garden Warbler
in the hand, while those arriving later were shown a Common Whitethroat.
Little Owl, photo by Tim Lock
groups were treated to good views of the Little Owl, which lives in the quarry
near the Observatory. Birds in nearby
fields included Kestrel, Skylark,
Dove, Wheatear, Whinchat, Tree Pipit and Turtle Dove.
the Bill at 3.30 we headed back to Weymouth where we spent 45 minutes at
Radipole Lake. While on the lake there were typical waterfowl and gulls, the
reed bed was alive with the song of Reed and Cetti’s Warblers. Overhead there
were Martins and Swallows. Further along the reserve path a distant Marsh
Harrier was seen by a lucky few.
inevitable that by taking varying routes at different times, each personal
experience would differ, but hopefully everyone enjoyed their day by the sea.
us, we encountered a total of 61 bird species, enjoyed sunshine, magnificent
scenery and a few interesting Moths!
Bath Natural History Society’s Natural
Neighbourhood Watch meeting on Bank Holiday 4 May 2015
competing with the Christchurch Primary School’s May Fayre, a steady stream of
over 25 punters joined Alan and Marion Rayner, Andy Daw and me outside the
by examining the frankly beautiful coloured lichens growing on a nearby dry
stone wall. Marion handed out powerful hand lenses so that
we could appreciate their beauty. We
then headed through the narrow pathway between two tall walls and noticed how
no vegetation grew in the more shaded areas, whilst in other places there was
much to admire and talk about – including Herb-Robert and Shining Crane’s-bill
sprouting up from the base of the wall.
As the path
opened up we dropped down into the idyllic hamlet of Murhill with its
staggeringly beautiful views of the Limpley Stoke Valley. Alan found a Stinking Iris and broke off a
section of its leaf offering it to us to smell – urghhhh – cat pee stink! Next up we wondered at the astonishing array
of mosses that proliferate on the dry stone walls. Marion got out her little spray bottle of
water and misted the Rambling Tail-moss.
It immediately sprang to life and expanded to twice the size before our
eyes – WOW!
our way uphill through some woods, towards the Murhill Conservation Area,
noticing the Murhill Stone Quarry along the way – a protected habitat for
bats. This conservation area is managed
by one of our members, John Presland and its success is a testimony to his
dedication to wildlife. Back at Winsley
village we walked alongside Dorothy House back to the village hall for tea and
was the highlight of the walk, 9 year old Joseph said “my Dad and I really
liked finding the wild garlic – we want to make garlic bread with it”. My lasting memory will be enjoying a gentle
walk in the most idyllic countryside (on my doorstep!) in the company of new
friends young and old, oh and that “sedges have edges” – thanks Alan!
( Leaders: Chris Tracey of Glos BC Branch
& Geoff Hiscocks)
This was arranged as a joint
meeting with the Wilts Branch of Butterfly Conservation, the primary focus
being butterflies,moths and the flora and fauna associated with woodland. On a
fine day 15 members and friends (other than the leaders) met at the car park
for the wood, part of the Bathurst estate. Oakley Wood, together with Hailey
Wood to the south is the nearest site to Bath where the scarce Pearl-bordered Fritillary
can be seen flying in late April and May and it was not long into the walk
before this target species was spotted nectaring on the many Bugle flowers.
Click photos to enlarge
Chris then took us on to
several other compartments in the wood which the butterfly is known to
frequent: in total we must have seen close to a dozen, providing plenty of
opportunities for the photographers. Other species spotted were Orange Tip,
Dingy Skipper, and a Painted Lady flying low and providing good
views, the first this year for many members. Two or three of the attractive
Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillar were found and the very small and pale Hemp
Agrimony Plume moth spotted by Chris provided interest for the moth-ers in the
Apart from Bugle and the many
bluebells, other plants of note were Early Purple Orchid, Woodruff and Wood
Spurge…but we only had a fleeting possible glimpse of the Drab Looper moth known
to be present in the wood which uses it as its foodplant.
After lunch back at the car
park some of us accompanied Chris Tracey to nearby Westley Farm where she has
been asked to survey for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. We eventually found
two, one of which posed obligingly for photos, and also several species not
seen in the wood: Green Hairstreak, Small Heath (a year first for many), Common
Blue, Holly Blue, Peacock and Small White. Sanicle was flowering by the side of
the path down to the grassy bank where we saw the butterflies.
Birds seen/heard during the
day were Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Garden
Warbler, Siskin, and Linnet. Finally Small Tortoiseshells were seen beside the
track back to the cars where Lucy heard a Whitethroat to complete the bird
list. It was generally agreed to have been a very pleasant and rewarding day.