24 Apr 18

Sweethill, Top Fields, The Slopes, The Bill, Hut Fields, Culverwell and back to Sweethill

Well it started off nice at 8:30am but 3 hours on and the fog horn started up as the sea fog moved in over the island.

Main highlights on my long walk were 30+ Manx Shearwater at The Bill, 1 Whimbrel in the grounds of Qinetiq, 150+ Guillemot on the water below the west cliff, 50+ Swallow heading up the slopes, 1 Yellow Wagtail over Sweethill, 3 Stonechat (2m,1f) and a pair of Whinchat above the Crown Estate Fields, 15+ Wheatear around the Bill, 2 Common Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Top Field hedges.

Other bits and bobs were masses of Larval tents on the Wild Cherry hedges containing hundreds of caterpillars of the Brown-tail Moth. And lots of Bluebells out in flower.

Here are a few images from this morning.

This Wild Cherry is well in flower..........

.......and in leaf, which hasn't gone unnoticed by these.......

.......Brown-tail moth larvae. Not a caterpillar you would want to touch as the hairs can cause skin reactions. More on this caterpillar Here. Below is what the moth looks like......

A Brown-tail Moth.This one was in my Wakeham garden on 3 Jul 17

One of male Pheasants strutting around the Top Fields.

To the west of the slopes there were up to 150+ Guillemot on the sea...........

..........and a few on the cliff ledges.

In the grounds of Qinetiq the grounds provide plenty of insects for Wheatears and it seems...........


I certainly wasn't expecting to see this wader at The Bill. From what I can gather most of them carry on flying overhead.

A real treat to see a Whimbrel up close.

There were Wheatears everywhere, on both sides of The Bill.

Nothing unusual a Rock Pipit, however.........

......it has a leg ring that has split.

Here we have some Bluebells.........

.........and some Pinkbells. I can only surmise that the soil below them is a bit acidic.

Well its a Swallow and a very poor attempt of photographing one in flight.......

........not helped much by the poor light as the Fog moved in.

Birds Recorded: Fulmar, 30+ Manx Shearwater, 10+ Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Kestrel, Pheasant, 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Whimbrel, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 150+ Guillemot, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, 50+ Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 1 Yellow Wagtail, Dunnock, 3 Stonechat, 2 Whinchat, 15+ Wheatear, Blackbird, 2 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Raven, 2 Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch.

23 Apr 18

Pennsylvania Castle Wood, St Andrew's Church and Bumpers Lane

A bit of an odd day weather-wise, with hazy sun and the occasional glimpse of blue sky which never materialised to much. The sun at least came out briefly on a walk down to Pennsylvania Castle Wood and St Andrew's Church this afternoon, where I came across what I think were laurels.

Whatever they are, they were covered in bees, wasps and hoverflies. What was odd was the fact there wasn't a single flower to be seen, yet the laurels were attracting these mini beasts from all over.

Some new ones for me on Portland included Epistrophe eligansEarly Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa), Gooden's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) and a Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes)

Other highlights were a Common Whitethroat along Bumpers Lane and in the larger puddles lots of tadpoles.

Just a few images from this afternoon:

At the bottom of Pennsylvania Castle Wood just before you walk through the archway to St Andrew's Church, there is the mass of what I believe is a type of laurel........

......whatever species of plant it is, it was attracting insects from all over and the following images are a few of them either on the "laurel" or plants etc close-by...........

This the hoverfly Epistrophe eligans..........

.......it is very similar to the much larger Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)

Myathropa florea................

...............also known as the Dead Head Fly

Gooden's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana)

Gooden's Nomad Bee can be found anywhere that the host Andrena bees nests are found.

Common Wasp, Vespula vulgaris

A male Early Mining Bee, Andrena haemorrhoa

Common Carder, Bombus pascuorum

Common Carder, Bombus pascuorum. The rear end

This is a male Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes)........

.........on a Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x Uplandicum).

There was one thing about this bee and that was how fast it flew from plant to plant.

Marmalade fly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Syrphus torvus

And another Syrphus torvus


A few muddy puddles along Bumpers Lane........

.........and amazingly a few tadpoles.

In some of the more "mature" pools there were these lovely water plants.......

.......which I believe are one of the Water-crowfoot species

Birds recorded: 5 Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Common Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch.

Also seen: Lots of tadpoles, 2 Comma, 1 Large White, Epistrophe eligans, Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax), Marmalade fly (Episyrphus balteatus), Syrphus torvus, Common Carder (Bombus pascuorum), Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris),  Early Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa), Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea), Gooden's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) and a Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes)

Ships today

This the Charlotte Theresa an Oil/Chemical Tanker flying the Danish Flag on its way into Portland from Southampton. Not sure when it changed its colour scheme but it used to have a red hull. More on this vessel Here.

22 Apr 18

Portland Bird Observatory, Obs Quarry and Top Fields

After thick fog this morning it finally dispersed to leave a bright but breezy afternoon. In the obs garden a couple Chiffchaffs with one singing and distant views from the patio of auks and a skua sp. heading south.

A quick walk around to the Obs Quarry and one of the Little Owls was out on a ledge, before it flew back into its favourite "cave".

From here I walked up past the Crown Estate Fields with a chap called John from Salisbury. It was fairly quiet with just a few Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Swallows heading north overhead. Up by Helen's Field there more Swallows in the fields and as we walked back towards Culverwell there were 3 Wheatears on the stone wall separating the fields and a House Martin making is way over the hedges.

We walked through the gap here, and a Lesser Whitethroat was calling to our right, whereupon it flew back to a Blackthorn hedge here. It soon disappeared and as we trying to relocate it, what should appear in the Brambles but a stunning Wood Warbler. We watched it briefly as it made its way up the hedge, but when we tried to get in a better viewing position, it had already moved on. We tried the next field along but apart from another Chiffchaff there was no sign of it, however we did get a Common Whitethroat chattering away to us.

Here are few images from this afternoon:

One of the Little Owls in the Obs Quarry

A Meadow Pipit

The hedgerow which had Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and a stunning Wood Warbler

In the next field a Common Whitethroat chattering away. 

There's always a Kestrel close-by.

Birds Recorded: 1 Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Pheasant, skua sp., Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Razorbill/Guillemot, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, 1 Little Owl, Skylark, 1 House Martin, 20+ Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, 3 Wheatear, Blackbird, 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Wood Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, Wren, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Raven, Linnet and Goldfinch.

21 Apr 18

The Fleet

Well its taken awhile but at long last Tiki is now moored up in The Fleet. Just amazed how close you can get to the Sandwich Terns sat on the mooring points.

Whilst getting to grips to the controls I noted several Swallows passing overhead and as I mooring Tiki a Yellow Wagtail was heading for Chesil Beach.

A few photos from Dawn's mobile

On the way to the mooring

And there she is Tiki our little Shetland

Out on the open seas, well Portland Harbour for starters.

And back at the mooring a pair of Sandwich Terns