Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Trip report Portland and Weymouth

Sunday, 10 May 2015:

Portland and Weymouth (Leaders: Lucy & Phillip Delve)

This 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
The 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 Dorset coast. 

Our 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.

At the 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
Both 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,
Stock Dove, Wheatear, Whinchat, Tree Pipit and Turtle Dove. 

Leaving 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.

It is inevitable that by taking varying routes at different times, each personal experience would differ, but hopefully everyone enjoyed their day by the sea.
Between us, we encountered a total of 61 bird species, enjoyed sunshine, magnificent scenery and a few interesting Moths!

Phillip Delve

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