Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday 6th. May 2012 ( Dorset - Part 2 . )

The weather on our third day in Dorset dawned grey and cool , but we set off back to Studland and another attempt at Dartford Warbler . To put it in a nutshell , I spent over two hours wandering over a soggy Studland Heath and basically saw very little . A couple of Mallard , Shellduck , Magpies ,
Stonechats , Willow Warblers and a single Meadow Pipit , looking as if it didn't want to be there was just about as good as it got . In a dense area of Gorse and Heather , I was once again 'barked' at by a
small herd of Sika Deer , who , having bounded off , stopped at a safe distance to check me out . By the time I got back to Carol and the car , I felt as if I had been on an all day route march . With no brightening of the weather , we decided to catch the chain operated car ferry from the tip of Studland over to the Sandbanks area of Poole , then headed along the coast to Hengistbury Head , the other side of Bournemouth , a good site for Natterjack Toads I had read . On our arrival there were several coaches parked up and the whole place was swarming with students out on a field trip , so much for any slim chance of seeing a Toad . And so it was , even their spawn was under attack , with a pair of Mallards looking like they were feeding on it in one of the shallow ponds . There was compensations
though , a chink in the cloud allowed a short spell of sunshine and that encouraged a Small Copper onto the wing , my first sighting this year , and when I got up to the lighthouse area on top of the
cliff , there were anything up to 15 Wheatear bouncing about amongst the grass . Naturally enough ,
having just arrived , they were very flighty and keeping a good distance between ourselves , whilst all the time keeping an eye out for a passing meal . There were also good numbers of hirundine feeding along the face of the cliff and Blackcaps , Willow Warblers , Chiffchaffs and Common Whitethroat could be heard in the wooded area further away from the cliff . On my way back to the
car park , a male Linnet was much more approachable as he sang to attract a mate . From there , we made our way to Upton Heath , a Sand Lizard site the other side of Poole , that I had been told about by a volunteer at Arne . Unfortunately , by the time we got to the site after much confusion with Upton Country Park , the cloud had filled in again , with a marked drop in temperature . I had a look around , but it soon became obvious that it was a lost cause , especially with the arrival of many late afternoon dog walkers . I did however find a new , for me , species of Milkwort being Heath /
Polygala serpyllifolia . On the way back to the b&b , we made a stop at the site where I photographed the Sand Lizards the day before , and found the two enthusiasts who told me of the site , doing the same thing , passing and having a look . We had a look around but there was no sign of any reptiles out , so we went on our separate ways . The last full day dawned just grey and cool , so we decided to head down towards Weymouth , where we found low cloud and drizzle , so headed a bit further on to Portland and Chesil Beach . The viewpoint at the top of Portland kept drifting in
and out of the mist and during one clear patch I got my only shot , a Herring Gull at rest . WE headed back to Weymouth and stopped at an open air market , and whilst Carol had a look around that , I went to have a look around an incredible large reedbed alongside the car park , which just happened to be RSPB Radipole Lake . As soon as I got onto the path , Reed Warblers could be heard in large
numbers , with very few being seen . I just about managed a shot of this one , the only one that gave an opportunity . There were also good numbers of Cetti's Warbler , but apart from an occasional glimpse , it was the usual 'heard , rarely seen' . A calling Reed Bunting was seen further down the
 path and shortly afterwards , a female collecting nesting materials . Towards the far end of the reedbed , Little and Great Crested Grebe were found , the latter still displaying . The expected Coots , Moorhens , Mallard and Tufted Ducks all put in an appearance , as did a Great Black-backed Gull ,
posing with three Herring Gulls . A lot of noise coming from around a corner , was found to be
coming from two gorky juvenile Carrion Crows , shouting for food from the nearby adults . The low clouds seemed to have kept large numbers of newly arrived hirundines in the area , and they were busily feeding on insects very close to the surface of the water . I spent some time trying to get shots , but the light was very poor , but I managed to get three of the species on camera .
House Martin

 Sand Martin

It was as I finished here that I met two birders from London , who told me about a Glossy Ibis that had seen earlier at another reserve , Lodmoor , so I decided to find Carol and head up along the coast a bit to see if I could connect with the bird . Making my back to the car park , I caught a movement in some reeds and almost dismissed it as another Reed / Cetti's Warbler , but for some reason stopped to see if the two birds would show . It took a couple of minutes , but when the first one did , I was ready
and although a bit distant , was pleased to see a male Bearded Tit emerge and perch on the outside of the reeds . I managed a few shots before he darted back into cover . I could see the other bird still moving within the reeds , and was more than overjoyed when it too came to the front of the reeds , to
 reveal itself as a female . She too didn't stay long , and after a few seconds the pair flew across the opening in the reeds and disappeared deep into the other side . If anyone is visiting Weymouth , this reserve , almost in the middle of the town , is well worth a visit . Collecting Carol , we headed up to Lodmoor , another wetland reserve . The reserve has no dedicated car park and an adjacent 'pay and display' did not look the type of one to leave Carol in the car , so driving around , I managed to find a 'back door' to the reserve , in a road with houses alongside . I set off for a look around and was soon in a large reedbed , once again containing lots of hirundines and Warblers , with the addition this time of a Cuckoo in a wood overlooking the reeds . It gave me an opportunity to get a poor shot of the
fourth member of the hirundines , the fast flying Swift , not really a shot for poor light conditions . I had a good look around , but couldn't find the Ibis , but on a very well groomed - by rabbits , area of
grass , I did come across a Whimbrel feeding on insects . It carried on feeding , taking no notice of me , but when a local dog walker appeared , the bird took flight , but it did return when the dog and
walker moved on . By the time I got back to Carol , it was starting to drizzle , so time to head back to the b&b , but as I was putting my gear in the back of the car , Carol spotted a raptor and by the time I
got the camera out again it had been joined by a Carrion Crow . By now the light was grim , and I can't get any markings on the underwing . Probably another Common Buzzard , or maybe ?


Warren Baker said...

Got some nice hirundine photo's there Greenie, its hard to capture them in flight :-)

Looks like that raptor could be a Marsh harrier

Marianne said...

I love Dorset and it looks like you're seeing plenty there, pity about the weather!

Very nice hirundine comparison shots. Swifts aren't hirundines, by the way, they belong to a different family and indeed a different order. Convergent evolution has made them look so alike that it's strange to consider that swallows are more closely related to crows and swifts more closely related to hummingbirds than they are to each other!

Phil said...

Full marks for persistence and effort Greeenie. Dorset is a great place, certainly one of my favourites. But when the weather is against you, anywhere is difficult.
Some very nice pics as usual.

ShySongbird said...

Well done Greenie, another very enjoyable read, it sounded like very heavy going at times but your persistence was rewarded with some very good sightings and great photos and you certainly packed a lot of visits into a few days! The Whimbrel in flight is particularly impressive when enlarged, beautiful! Well done with the Bearded Tits, an excellent sighting and photos. I also liked the lined up Sika Deer.

So sorry that Carol's foot is (as I feared) still troublesome. I hope her appointment comes through soon and that they will be able to help her.