Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In the Shadows - 13th December 2014

Barred Warbler
Barred Warbler
We got up early to try and see this Barred Warbler in all its glory, out in the open in the Portland Bird Obs garden, feeding on apple segments. The bird is an immature, and therefore not in its best plumage, but still a nice bird to see. However, the conditions weren't the best, gloomy and dull and the bird was in the shadows. It was showing very well, so I took plenty of pictures; hopefully my best ones are on here!

Barred Warbler
The sun coming out didn't really help because it came from where we were pretty much facing so the light wasn't very good. But it helped in the way that there was actually some form of a light source.

The light did, however create an interesting sky with a silhouette of a Robin according to Dad, but I'm not convinced! But thought I would show you anyway. When the the sun was rising, a Kestrel flew into the sunrise which looked rather nice.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

One place to another - 29th November 2014

We went out to Keyhaven to see what was around and we weren't let down. From Reed Buntings to Brent Geese it was sure to be a good day. There was so much about that Dad said he wouldn't want to do a WeBS count here. Half way down the sea wall route that we took a Redshank was on the mud almost begging for a photo.

Reed Bunting
At the end of the sea wall we were rewarded by great views of a female Reed Bunting that came out and perched beautifully on the top of the reed. Nice to see and photograph a lovely coloured and elusive bird.

On our way up to the stony beach there were lots of Turnstones feeding in the mud. Trying to get the right angle on them with the light behind proved to be a bit of a challenge though. Unfortunately the eye glint was too hard to capture. This is the best shot though.

Brent Goose
Brent Goose
When we got to the top of the beach we could see a Brent Goose out perfectly in the light so I went down the slope to see if I could get a shot. And I managed to get two good shots with eye glints! This is my first good shot of a Brent.

After we had walked back, we went to a nearby Hawfinch site to see if we could get a snap of this chunky billed bird. After being there for a while we met up with a gentlemen who had seen them eight times in a row, this was reassuring. But the birds didn't want to come out. However when we were on the brink of giving up, a gentleman spotted some movement in the top of the tree so we headed over. And there it was, right at the top of a far away tree against a little sunlight. Not ideal conditions but thought I'd give it a go and this is what I got.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Luck for once! - 15th November 2014

Isabelline Shrike
We ventured out to Hengistbury Head to see an elusive Isabelline Shrike. When we turned up at the site we were very lucky to see it almost straight away. At first, we were facing the sun but still managed to get some shots.

Isabelline Shrike
Because the sun was in our faces we went through a gap in the hedge on to the other side but we couldn't seem to see the bird. It was there though, just being covered by some twigs. When it came up it just didn't want to turn round but this picture shows the rusty tail.

Isabelline Shrike
After some waiting the head finally came up. However, disappointingly you can't see the tail but it has got the head, chunky bill and yellow eye outline. So it was really good to just turn up and see it because this, let's be honest, does not happen often!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ringing at Radipole - 31st October 2014

Mediterranean Gull
We went to Radipole, again!, to watch some ringing, courtesy of Luke Phillips, taking place. Not that a lot was a lot taking place! To pass some time, I took some pictures of Mediterranean Gulls that seemed everywhere. There weren't just Med Gulls, oh no, there were Black-headed Gulls and even a Common Gull. But, unfortunately that was too far away to get any ok pictures. But we did manage to spot something rather interesting. A Mediterranean Gull had a yellow ring on its leg, this means that the gull was ringed in England. Apparently, this is quite unusual.


There were lots of Stonechats around the nets and it took a while to catch one but eventually we did. This is also fairly rare at Radipole, so I was fortunate to see it in the hand.

Pallas's Wabler
Then, reports of a Pallas's Wabler on Portland came in and after much consideration we decided to go, unfortunately leaving behind Radipole. When we had finally finished battling our way through lots of unneeded traffic, we arrived. It took a while for the bird to appear but when it did it seemed very elusive. But, when it did finally come out, it showed really well.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Where's that Shank? - 27th and 28th October 2014

On our way down to Cornwall, we thought we would stop in at the Hayle Estuary to see a Lesser Yellowlegs AKA Yellowshank. However, this was a much more difficult task than we expected. We drove down the road parallel to the place where the bird had been seen recently, stopping at every group of Redshanks we could see. No luck though, so we headed to the other side to see if the Lesser Yellowlegs had made an appearance. It hadn't. There was another group of Redshanks that made for a nice photo so we didn't leave quite empty handed.

Lesser Yellowlegs
On our way to the beach, we dropped in to see if the bird was there. Take a wild guess if it was there or not? Of course it wasn't! Due to the enthusiasm of Dad, we just had to pop in on the way back. You know the story, it wasn't there as assumed by yours truly. The next day, on our way back from a surfing lesson, we had to go and see if it was there and we spotted a yellow legged bird that looked very much like the one we were looking for. And indeed it was.

A Redshank was an irresistible opportunity to get a lovely pic with its red legs and black tipped beak. This time we left fully handed.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Lots of tails - 23rd October 2014

Pied Wagtail
We went to Radipole to see if we could track down a Long-tailed Duck and a massive Pied Wagtail flock.

Long-tailed Duck
We could see the duck from the Visitor Centre so we went in for a closer look. But our luck was about to turn. The bird took off and flew further left down the river. As I'm not really a flight shot sort of person I don't have much experience so I didn't get very good pictures at all but I thought I'd show you; the Long-tailed Duck is in the bottom left hand corner.

Little Grebe
We walked down the river trying to find the Long-tailed Duck, we had no luck though. We saw a Little Grebe also known as a Dabchick swimming close in to the river bank.

While we at the river bank we saw a Kingfisher on the other side, nightmare to photograph as it is a small bird and was quite a long way away. It also blends in well with the green bush so I spent about five minutes trying to get a decent picture.

Pied Wagtail
The number of Wagtails gradually increased as we stayed there longer. We drove up to some wags in puddles to see if we could get a picture of the Wagtail's reflection. We managed to get close enough to get this picture.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

What was around - October 2014

Northern Wheatear
Quite a long time ago, we went to Swanage where a Wheatear was peskily flying around a bench making it difficult to photograph but when there was finally an opening, I managed to get an off-centred shot. Well worth the wait though.

Rosy and Common Starlings
More recently we went to Portland to chase a Rosy Starling around a housing estate. The weather was not great with grey skies and cold temperatures; the chances of getting a decent photo seemed slim. We had been looking for a while now and eventually spotted the Starling on a nearby chimney so we walked closer but those photos were not very good. After a long time, we cracked and decided to go. We drove down a lane to turn round and typically, the Rosy Starling had moved into a perfect photo position alongside a Common Starling.

Brent Goose
We went to Studland in search of Brent Geese and we weren't let down. Swimming just off the shore, it seemed they wanted their own picture. Unfortunately, the sun let us down, refusing to come out behind overcast skies. But when eventually it poked out to say hello it still wasn't that bright due to the trees higher on the cliff, creating shadows that covered the black feathers of the Brents. With poor light it was going to be a difficult shot.

On the way back, a stop was required as a Jay was in a nearby tree. This Jay was very active as it was collecting food so was I panicking a bit. The bird kept ducking behind trees and flying away. After a while it came up on a branch and perched. I am really disappointed that I chopped the tail off but thought I'd show you anyway.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Double Dose of Radipole - 4th and 5th October 2014

We went over to Portland to see what was there and with reports of Rosy Starling, it sounded appealing.  Unfortunately, we didn't manage to see it perched, but only flying around.  Being on Portland, a trip to the smelly pig farm was called for.  Why were you going to a pig farm? I hear you ask; well, we would only go somewhere that stank for the purpose of a Hooded Crow, a Dorset rarity.  This was the 3rd attempt, so I was really hoping to see it.  Didn't see it, surprise surprise. Having wasted precious time, we headed to Radipole to see if we could be put out of our misery and to a degree, we were.  Dad suggested that I tried to get a head shot of a Mallard.

It would have been great to know that I had photographed a Water Rail but when the news broke from Dad that it was a young Moorhen, it was slightly disappointing.

Hooded Merganser
Now, there's a story to this bird, brace yourself, it's a long one.  In 2008, this Hooded Merganser was found in a drain on Chesil Beach.  Everyone got very excited as this species is from America.  Lots of people thought that it had flown all the way over the Atlantic Ocean.  But when it went over to Radipole, suspicions were raised as to whether it was an escape.  And to this day it is still at Radipole.

Mediterranean Gull
Considering we were at Radipole, we just had to check out the flock of gulls in the carpark to see if there were any Mediterranean Gulls around, and sure enough there were.  They look much better in the summer but you can still see the bright red bill which you can see all through the year.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron
Day 2 - As it was a calm day, we decided to go to Radipole again, Bearded Tit spotting; well, technically not spotting as we didn't see any. We went around the loop and only managed to see a Wren and a few miscellaneous waterbirds.  We returned to the bridge where a Snipe was well camouflaged against the reedbed.  As the weather had turned all dull and grim, it was hopeless.  But just round the corner of some closer reeds, a Grey Heron was looking like it had an empty stomach.  The fish is visible in the beak.

Mute Swan
Swans are always close to the bridge and this one was no exception.

It is quite rare to see a Gadwall this close and I seized the opportunity when the light was on it.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

September Migrants - September 2014

Northern Wheatear
We went to Middlebere in the evening and it didn't disappoint. Full of migrants, we wandered up to the flooded grass area having to stop along the way several times due to birds just waiting to be photographed.

But, the sun had the better of us with Whinchats perching with the sun in front of me, making it hard to photograph the birds.

Meadow Pipit
However, when the sun is behind you, it's a whole different story. This Meadow Pipit flew into what looks like floating heather.

Northern Wheatear
We went to Portland the other day and didn't manage to see much apart from this Wheatear. I took the majority of a page worth of pictures of this bird so it was a job choosing the best one.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wow! - 6th September 2014

Bottle-nosed Dolphins
There were actually dolphins at Durlston past the dolphin watching point. First, there was a circle of white water near a fishing boat and seconds later a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins rose to the surface.

It was quite unusual to see them as close as they were, so I was very fortunate. But unfortunately, there was one boat that felt the need to drive along side the dolphins scaring the life out of the poor creatures. Then more boats came, a diving boat, a Sunseeker, you name it, and followed them up the coast. Furious!

There were at least two calves in the pod.

The blowhole is visible in this shot.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kestrels and Hawks - 18th to 21st August 2014

This is the last Portland blog, what will I post about now! Don't worry, I will find something. This Kestrel was being ringed at the Obs. But I have been commended for my stalking skills before though!

Juvenile Kestrel
I did sneak up on this juvenile bird.

Adult male Kestrel
This male Kestrel was perching all around the fields near Portland Bill, this was the best picture that I took.

Red Arrows Hawks
These Hawks of the RAF Red Arrows display team gave an awesome display at Weymouth. This is the new fly-by at the end of the display.