Thursday, 25 October 2012

Winspit - 23rd October

The last time I was at Winspit was the 31st October 1993 so I thought it was about time I made a return visit! I didn't recall there being quite so much vegetation along the valley and it took me a lot longer than I anticipated getting down to where the Bluetail had been all those years ago. Robins, Blackbirds and Goldcrests were present in good numbers with a few Song Thrush for company. It was a bit late in the day for vis-mig and I suspect what few things were "moving" had arrived earlier and were just relocating slightly. About halfway down the valley I found my first Ring Ouzel of the day, a smart male, and the first Chiffchaff and Blackcap appeared. A Grey Wagtail and a Yellowhammer flew over but I suspect these were local birds rather than wanderers and a Little Owl called a couple of times up near the pumping station. I then headed up the east side of the valley to try and get a phone signal as with a Daurian Shrike down the road at Portland I wondered if anything else had turned up. I followed a Hawthorn hedgerow up the slope and more Blackbirds, Robins and a group of four Blackcap moved up ahead of me. A couple of Stonechat were in an adjacent field as well as some Meadow Pipit and another Yellowhammer. I managed to get a signal at the top of the slope and safe in the knowledge that I didn't need to be elsewhere I thought I'd have a wander around the coast facing slope. More of the same except for two more Ring Ouzel, which as ever were not very obliging but I obtained some record shots.

Ring Ouzel

Heavily cropped shots but they're representative of the usual views of Ring Ouzel.

Whilst eating my lunch I noticed some activity offshore and was pleased to see a small pod of seven (or so) Bottlenose Dolphins. I haven't seen any of these for many years and I must admit I've always called them Bottle-nosed Dolphin in the past!. I managed a few shots and although they breached clear of the water a couple of times I wasn't quick enough to capture it on film (well, SD card!). Here's a couple of photos and if you think my id is incorrect then please let me know.

 Bottlenose Dolphin

Looking east towards Anvil Point Lighthouse, Durlston.

Wandering back down towards the valley proper I was once again struck by how much habitat there was, loads of massive sycamores and not just the handful that I recalled from my visit of nearly 19 years ago. Birdwise it was still much of the same but with some Siskin and a lone Redpoll flying over, a single Bullfinch could also have been a migrant. A few Red Admiral and Speckled Wood were still on the wing and this one of the latter was enjoying some autumn sunshine.

Speckled Wood

A single Migrant Hawker was chasing smaller insects up in the sycamores too. Where the footpath meets the sea there's some great low vegetation in the gully there, and half a dozen Chiffchaff feeding actively.


A couple more Blackcap were present as well as more Robins and Blackbirds.


The occasional Song Thrush would fly over quite high up but Redwing were strangely low in numbers with just seven seen/heard.

 Song Thrush

I headed east along the lower coastal path and into the quarry, almost immediately I flushed an eared owl and thought it was probably a Long-eared but wanted to try and get better views. I saw roughly where it landed and thankfully I managed to locate it on the rock-face before it took flight again.

Long-eared Owl

A small slim falcon then appeared for a couple of seconds above the quarry heading east but with the poor light and brevity of the sighting no details could be ascertained - shame! I noticed a path which headed up to the coastal path proper so clambered up the steep slope in the hope that the falcon may have alighted and also to avoid disturbing the owl. I failed on both counts as there was no sign of the falcon and the owl flew from a cave below me, I took advantage of the great flight views and apologised for disturbing it again.

Long-eared Owl

I then noticed a Black Redstart down amongst the rocks in the quarry which was getting some stick from a Robin. With time getting on I started to make my way back up the valley towards Worth Matravers, there wasn't much more to report other than a Merlin which whizzed over me near the pumping station.

Totals were as follows:
Goldcrest 28
Chiffchaff 21
Swallow 4
Yellowhammer 11
Blackcap 13
Song Thrush 23
Robin 85
Blackbird 110
Grey Wagtail 1
Ring Ouzel 5
Bullfinch 4
Redwing 7
Little Owl 1
Siskin 17
Redpoll sp 1
Long-eared Owl 1
Black Redstart 1
Merlin 1

A pleasant afternoon and I'm looking forward to more visits in the future.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Durlston Moths - 21st October

A brief post as it's getting late! William and I made a slightly tardy start to Durlston Country Park this morning with the aim of hopefully seeing some moths as a few goodies had been seen there the previous two nights. In the event there were no visiting moth-ers so that left us with just the trap at the centre, the wall around the trap had a fair number of moths including one Delicate (5 in total) and a Green-brindled Crescent so things were looking good. One species I was hoping to see was Oak Rustic which like the Sombre Brocade has recently colonised the area and as luck would have it after having gone through the trap I discovered one low down on the wall. Another good moth was a Clancy's Rustic which I had previously seen at Dungeness, where the first record was from there only 10 years ago. A Brindled Ochre was also a bit of a surprise and a species which I have seen on the last few visits to the Shetlands.

Oak Rustic 

Clancy's Rustic 

Brindled Ochre 

Dark Chestnut 

Scrobipalpa costella 

Crocidosema plebejana

The Delicate 

Green-brindled Crescent

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Holes Bay - 16th October 2012

Holes Bay is in Poole and there are lots of birds there so this could be the most relevant post yet!!

There are lots of good looking areas around Poole Habour for birding but I haven't quite sussed out access details to some of the areas where I'd like to go and it might not even be possible for some of these. So in the meantime I'll settle for Upton Country Park/Holes Bay as there's free parking at Upton House and likewise at the eastern end of the bay if I park at prime Laughing/Ring-billed Gull habitat - McDonalds! The latter is where I started yesterday as after crossing the dual carriageway you are straight onto the path which goes round the bay. A couple of hundred yards to the north of here is a drain where this Grey Wagtail posed for just one photo before flying off

Grey Wagtail

Not a great photo but I'm a birder who takes photographs of birds rather than a photographer who takes photos of birds. With winter just around the corner the duck numbers in the bay are starting to build up with Wigeon and Teal the commonest and with it being quite a busy recreational site they aren't too bothered about human activity which on the plus side means they can be quite photogenic

 Wigeon - drake coming out of eclipse


Wigeon - female

Teal - drake

Photographs never seem to do justice to the brilliant irredescent sheen that this superb little duck gives off, and what cracking vermiculations!

Walking further west this Curlew was escaping the high tide in a field to the north of the bay


Holes Bay itself does hold good numbers of waders but variety is a bit thin, Black-tailed Godwit (300+) are probably the commonest at the moment followed by Redshank (150), with probably a dozen Curlew and a couple of Oystercathcer. There was just one Dunlin today and on a previous visit I've seen a Spotted Redshank and small numbers of Ringed Plover.

 Black-tailed Godwit


I'm sure as winter progresses Little Egret numbers will swell and there were 16 roosting in a dead tree over high tide with a couple showing well as the tide dropped. I still enjoy seeing these birds perhaps because years ago I had to do a BBRC description for the first one I ever found!

Little Egret

Just as I was approaching the hide I noticed a Nuthatch fly from a post by the path and was annoyed with myself that I hadn't spotted it as it would have been quite a good photo opportunity. However, another one flew down and then I noticed that a few posts had sunflower hearts placed atop, result. I love Nuthatches, they're one of my favourite bird families and hopefully I may see Beautiful Nuthatch in India next March - fingers crossed. Anyway I digress, with the birds seemingly oblivious to my presence I set myself up and rattled off loads of photos as the light wasn't great and most shots were slightly blurred through movement of these hyper little birds. I have no idea how many individual birds came down but the most I saw at any one time was three.


I took about a hundred shots of these and here are my two favourites, not perfect but they'll do for me and I'm looking forward to going back and getting the money shot.

On a nearby Oak tree a Treecreeper worked it's way up the trunk and I managed a few shots of another fantastic species


Other visitors to the seeds included Great, Blue and Coal Tit with just one female Chaffinch in attendance and it took me ages to get some shots of Coal Tit that I was happy with. They just don't sit still being smash and grab merchants, they'll collect one seed and then quickly hide themselves away to eat it in peace.

Coal Tit

As with Nuthatch, I'm hopeful of improving on these shots, but what a great place to get close to some stunning birds.

There wasn't a great deal from the hide so I started to make my way back, a couple of Moorhen were feeding on the grass near the "duckpond" so I took a few shots as the light was quite good here but then the battery ran out on the camera  - I think I may have overdone it on the Nuthatch front!


Gull numbers were building up in the bay near the dual carriageway and I soon picked out an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the water along with at least 2 1st winters and then I noticed a typically smart 1st winter Caspian Gull, which are not as regular down here as they are in Kent. I don't know if this particular spot is well watched but I'm hoping that this might be a good place for a bit of gull watching and I'll remember to take a spare battery next time! Hopefully it will reappear when I've got some battery life in my camera as I fear it may be a description bird! I hadn't intended being out so long so I needed to get home and have a quick bite for lunch before picking up the kids from school.

A pleasant few hours birding and all on the doorstep.

After just writing this I thought I'd have a look in the Best Birdwatching Sites in Dorset book and it looks like there may be less than double figure records for Caspian Gull in Dorset so with luck it, or another, will show itself to any regular Poole Harbour birders.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Cypress Carpet

Another short post as there wasn't a lot in the moth trap and I didn't get out birding today but this Cypress Carpet appeared on the back window of the house early afternoon of the 12th.

Cypress Carpet

The first record of this moth was in West Sussex in 1984 and this species has now become established in parts of southern England, such as the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset.

Lulworth Cove - 10th/11th October 2012

My drinking buddy from Paddock Wood was staying at the Lulworth Cove Inn through his work (a professor at Queen Mary University of London no less!) so it would have been rude of me not to go and meet him for a few beers. We hadn't arranged a time but I thought I might as well make my way down there for about 7. I managed to walk into the bar just as he was ordering his first pint, impeccable timing as always! He bemoaned the lack of a phone signal but mentioned that they had free wi-fi so at least I could keep track of things via Twitter etc.
Being a Hall & Woodhouse pub they had Badger and Fursty Ferret on tap, we started on the Badger (a bit like this govt!) as it was 4% compared to the 4.4% Fursty Ferret. In the event neither beers were particularly well kept which was a shame as I like bottled Fursty Ferret and was looking forward to trying it on draft. After about an hour or so I asked the barman if I could set up my moth trap out back and he acquiesced. Several pints of Badger later along with a couple of Ferret followed by some more Badger we retired for the evening.

I woke up just after first light so went and had a look at the moth trap. I hadn't been able to place it in as open a position as I would have liked due to the forecast heavy rain and consequently there wasn't an awful lot in the trap. Feeling a little disappointed my spirits were raised when I spotted a moth on a nearby plant pot which I didn't recognise. It took me a while to suss out what it was but I eventually id'ed it as a Beautiful Gothic - described as an extremely local moth on the south coast of England between the Isle of Wight and Cornwall.
Beautiful Gothic

After a hearty full English I decided that I would have a little wander around as I could hear a few Chiffchaff and Goldcrests calling. The far corner of the car park had a few sycamores so I headed up there, immediately loads of Chiffs and Goldcrests were moving through so I took up a good position and waited. After a few minutes a Yellow-browed Warbler performed admirably in front of me before disappearing back in towards the garden of the thatched cottage. Good stuff. I hung around for a little while but with no further sign I decided to head up to the other side of the valley.
At the Heritage centre a female Black Redstart shook it's booty up on the roof and at the duckpond a couple of Blackcap takked away. Lulworth Cove really is a beautiful spot and I'm somewhat surprised that there hasn't been much recorded from here over they years so hope to get out here as often as possible.

A couple of Vapourer moth were flying near the duckpond but not much else new was seen thereafter.


Garden moths - 8th October 2012

A brief post as I'm still trying to catch up

Gold Spot
Quite a late record but what a stunner

Grey Pine Carpet 

Pine Carpet 

Oak Nycteoline