17 Feb 19

Penns Wood and Church Ope Cove

A cloudy cool day, and a very busy one with many people visiting the cove. Unsurprisingly a majority of birds were at the far north-east corner of the beach and were either on the cliff face or on the rocks.

Just 1 female Black Redstart remains, the other female Black Redstart and Stonechat seemed to have moved on. At least the Rock Pipits were in good numbers again with 17 recorded. The Grey Wagtail was here, but there was no sign of the Pied Wagtails.

Other highlights were a Chiffchaff at Rufus Castle and 2 Goldcrests in Penns Wood.

Overhead a Sparrowhawk flew over Penns Wood and an Oystercatcher crossed the bay.

Here are a few images from today:

This corner of Church Ope Cove was where the majority of the birds were now feeding, with the female Black Redstart up on the boulders.

Just the one female Black Redstart here now.

One of the 17 Rock Pipits here today.

Birds Recorded: 1 Sparrowhawk, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 17 Rock Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wren, Dunnock, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Black Redstart, Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Ships Today

This is the German General Cargo Vessel 'Paulin B' on her way from Rotterdam to Bilbao, Spain.

This is the same ship as above the 'Paulin B' in different light conditions. More on this vessel Here.

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here

16 Feb 19

Lodmoor RSPB Reserve

An afternoon spent at a very gloomy Lodmoor Reserve today. After the past few sunny days it was a big disappointment to see the fog lift but no sun.

However it wasn't all gloom and doom as I managed to add a few more birds to my ever growing list of bird species for this year. I still haven't managed to nail a Yellow-browed Warbler, with Lodmoor being one of the the 3 different locations to have had one this Winter. The best possible location being Bincleaves (north of Portland Harbour), which I will leave for another day.

My 100th species for the year was a Spoonbill. In fact there were 4 birds here, an individual and 3 others. The next species was a Reed Bunting and despite visiting Radipole and Lodmoor once each already this year, it was only today that I managed to see and hear at least 12 birds. The next species was Canada Goose with 5 heard and then seen taking off in the centre of the Reserve. Next one was a Water Rail, which squealed right next to me when I was trying to imitate a Chiffchaff calling. Later I came across another one out in the open. The fifth new species was the 'resident' Lesser Yellowleg, which I missed last time I was here and the final new species today was a Kingfisher, with a flash of that iridescent blue as it took off close to me and flew across one of the lagoons.

Here are a few images from today.

Its not often Water Rails will come out into the open, so today was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

When I passed by this section of reeds early on there was this Snipe feeding away. When I came back....

...........the Lesser Yellowlegs was occupying the same spot.

Behind the Lesser Yellowlegs two drake Teal sleeping.

Several Black-tailed Godwits here as usual. This one has decided to rest up.

Great to see a Spoonbill here. In fact there were........

.......3 others here as well.

Two Shelducks sifting through the mud.

A 1st Winter Grey Heron making sure its feathers are all in the right place.

A Lapwing on the mudflat.........

........and here many more plus gulls and Starlings.

A male Reed Bunting singing away. Spring is around the corner.

Birds Recorded: Cormorant, Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 4 Spoonbill, 5 Canada Geese, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, 2 Water Rail, 1 Oystercatcher, 400+ Lapwing, 12+ Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 4 Common Gull, Wood PigeonKingfisherStarling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wren, Dunnock, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, 2 Bullfinch and 12+ Reed Bunting.

Portland Marina and Hamm Beach

Early this morning 1 Chiffchaff in the Marina and just off Hamm Beach a pair of Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Black-necked Grebes.

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here

15 Feb 19

Penns Wood and Church Ope Cove

Another glorious day, with wall to wall sunshine. I'm not sure whether this mild weather is confusing the birds down at the cove as there was no sign of the female Stonechat, the Pied Wagtails, Robins and one of the female Black Redstarts. Are they moving onto to their respective breeding grounds. Time will tell.

Despite the above absentees there were still good numbers of birds on the beach and there was 1 female Black Redstart, 17 Rock Pipits and 5 Wrens. In the surrounding bushes the 2 Chiffchaffs were back and despite an extensive search I still cannot find what I think is a Yellow-browed Warbler. It called a couple of times but I just couldn't locate it. Maybe someone else will have better luck!!

Other highlights today were 12 Wall Lizards in the grounds of St Andrews Church and another one up by Rufus Castle. A Peacock butterfly was on the wing on the south facing cliff at the cove and there were several Buff-tailed Bumblebees and Common Drones on the Hebes.

Here are a few images from today:

The back of Church Ope Cove where there were 2 Chiffchaffs and a possible Yellow-browed Warbler.

Just the one female Black Redstart on the beach.

At St Andrew's Church there were several Wall Lizards popping out of the wall.

A pair of wall Lizards soaking up the warm sunshine.

This one was basking in the sun at the top of the steps by Rufus Castle.

Another shot.

And at long last the Daffodils at the top of Penns Wood have opened up.

And finally the moon rising above the cliffs at Church Ope Cove.

Birds Recorded: Gannet, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 17 Rock Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wren, Dunnock, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, possible Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Black Redstart, Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Also recorded: 1 Peacock butterfly, Buff-tailed Bumblebees and Common Droneflies.

Ships Today

This is the Bulk Carrier 'Star Harmony' flying the flag of Panama. Its on its way from Tilbury to Nemrut, Turkey via Portland Harbour. More on this vessel Here.

Note: A little further afield it looks like the Cuckoos are on the move from their African wintering grounds. A few which appear to be on the move are Selborne Here, Thomas Here and PJ Here

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here

14 Feb 19

Top Fields, Crown Estate Fields and Obs Quarry

Having spent most of the day in the back garden, I decided to end the day down at the Obs and do a bit of bird watching in the surrounding fields and quarry. Having parked up in the Obs car park, I crossed the road and I started to walk up the slope opposite, As I did so I met Andy, a birder who has recently moved here and together we walked to the top of the slope. No sooner had we got there when a Short-eared Owl appeared on the other side of the 'valley'.

It circled a couple of times before settling on a mound, but disappeared into the undergrowth when a group of photographers came off one the main path and started walking towards it. It was a bit disappointing to watch, as the photographers who had large lenses started walking towards the owl causing it to hide up in the undergrowth. When it failed to reappear the photographers then proceeded to walk across the field to the path on the other side. Hmm

Having watched it briefly from our advantage point which was a good 200 metres away, we headed back down the slope to the Obs Quarry in hope of seeing a Little Owl. Sadly they weren't showing so Andy headed off back to Southwell in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Barn Owl which has been seen there recently.

I had a message (after I'd got home) from Andy saying he had seen one heading down towards the Obs. And sure enough at 5:55pm, as I was leaving the Obs car park, there was a Barn Owl feeding in the Crown Estate Field opposite the Obs entrance. I watched it for a good few minutes before it headed off up the field.

Before that though I had stuck around the Quarry, in the hope that a Little Owl might come out as the light began to fade. Sadly it didn't but as I looked back across the Crown Estate Fields the dark phased Short-eared Owl appeared in its usual location which is just north of the Higher Lighthouse.

In the quarry itself there was a Kestrel sat high up on a rocky ledge and then unexpectedly it flew down and landed on the Little Owls ledge and promptly fell asleep.

In the quarry itself something was upsetting the Blackbirds and in the end a total of 5 birds were all 'clucking' away at something in the deep ravine. Probably a fox waking up!!

Also in the quarry were 2 Song Thrushes and a third bird in the Obs garden. In the field next to the quarry a male Stonechat.

Here are a few images from this evening:

A very distant shot of one of the 2 Short-eared Owls in the Top Fields this evening.

Sadly when it landed, a group of photographers with big lenses closed in on it and it disappeared into the undergrowth.

Always a few Kestrels here. This one had just devoured a Lizard was looking for its next appetiser.

Later at the quarry the same/different Kestrel was perched on the rock face. Ten minutes later it..........

...........was in the entrance to Little Owls. 5 minutes later it was asleep. If the Little Owls were at home they or the Kestrel was in for a surprise.

Birds Recorded: 2 Kestrel, Pheasant, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, 1 Barn Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 10+ Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit, Magpie, 2 Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wren, Dunnock, 1 Stonechat, Robin, 5 Blackbird (all in the Obs Quarry), 3 Song Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and 2 Greenfinch.

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here

13 Feb 19

Penns Wood and Church Ope Cove

What a beautiful sunny and very mild day. So it didn't come as any surprise to see several Wall Lizards out basking in the sunshine. There were 4 in the grounds of St Andrew's Church and a further 3 just 10 steps up from the beach basking close to the undergrowth.

On the beach there were 2 female Black Redstarts, 1 female Stonechat, 2 Pied Wagtails, the 'Rock' Robin and 12 Rock Pipits. There was no sign of the Grey Wagtail today. At the back of the cove were 2 more Robins in the Hebe behind the toilet block. Also in this area 2 Goldcrests and several Long-tailed Tits.

Long-tailed Tit flocks have been very few and far between this winter, and there certainly haven't been that many in the Church Ope Cove area. The flock today was small but in amongst them were a few Great Tits, Blue Tits and I distinctly heard the call of a Yellow-browed Warbler*. So is there one of these elusive warblers here.

Other highlights were a Raven being mobbed by a Herring Gull, a Sparrowhawk making its way up the slope to Penns Wood and the local Kestrel hunting over Penn's Weare.

Out to sea there was a huge mixed flock of Gannets and gulls feeding frantically on a large shoal of fish.

Here are a few images from today:

The first Wall Lizards out in the sun this year.

Interesting to note that the first time they were seen last year was on 12 Feb 18.

This juvenile Wall Lizard has had a narrow escape. The tail will grow back, but in this case it will be very stumpy. Sadly another Wall Lizard from a couple of years back, named 'Stumpy', didn't fair that well. It was sunbathing in the corner of the church grounds when a Robin flew down and ate it for lunch.

Not in the church grounds, but alongside the steps, just a few feet away from the beach at Church Ope Cove.

Great to see two female Black Redstarts at the cove.

This female and.............

...........this second bird were both on the beach today.

Still here the female Stonechat. Where else but on a Hut roof.

The Robins in the cove are extremely tolerant of humans. I was about ten feet away from this one.....

and 6 feet from this one.

The same bird as above...........

.......and another one close-by.

The local Kestrel hunting.

So there was this Raven minding its own business when..........

........from nowhere this Herring Gull dive bombed it. The raven got the message and made its way back over Penns Weare.

A Buff-tailed Bumblebee finds a sunny spot to warm up.

One of a few Common Droneflies out on the wing.

Birds Recorded: 200+ Gannet, 2 Common Buzzards, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Oystercatcher, 100+ Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 12 Rock Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, Magpie, 1 Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wren, Dunnock, 4 Goldcrest, a possible Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Stonechat, 2 Black Redstart, 7 Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Also recorded: 7+ Wall Lizards, Common Drone Flies and Buff-tailed Bumblebees.

* Note: On a few of my walks to Church Ope Cove via Penns Wood I have on a few occasions heard what I thought was a Yellow-browed Warbler calling in the woods. But none as clear as the bird I heard today. Unfortunately time was against me and I couldn't carry out a search for it. Here is an example of the call heard Here.

Ships Today

This is the British Replenishment Ship 'RFA Tideforce' on manoeuvres around Portland. More on this vessel Here.

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here

12 Feb 19

Penns Wood and Church Ope Cove

Another mild and sunny day. Main highlight was a second Pied Wagtail on the beach, which seemed attracted to the 'resident' male. Also here the Grey Wagtail, overwintering female Stonechat and just the 1 female Black Redstart. It appears the second female has moved on. The number of Rock Pipits appears to be dropping with just 7 recorded. Lots of Wrens again.

Overhead there were at least 20 Herring Gulls and then more arrived as a pair of Buzzards circled overhead. Also on the prowl, the resident Kestrel.

In Penns Wood 2 Goldcrests and there were 2 more behind the huts at the back of the cove.

Here are few images from today.

I have never known a bird to be so camera shy!!

Eventually the female Stonechat did turn around, but only briefly. This behaviour had absolutely nothing to do with me, but more to do with its food source which was in and around the brambles behind the huts. So I'll let her off.

Even this female Black Redstart was happier feeding at the back of the Huts. Which does make me think that this is actually the 3rd Black Redstart which arrived last week. The other two were certainly not here again.

The 'resident' male Pied Wagtail

And a second bird, which does appear to be paler. possibly a female. One to watch out for over the next few days. If it stays that is.

The ever present Grey Wagtail

So many Herring Gulls. At first there were around 25 and then when a pair of Buzzards arrived so that number almost doubled.

One of the two Buzzards over Rufus Castle.

Birds Recorded
: 2 Common Buzzard, Kestrel, 30+ Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, 7 Rock Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wren, Dunnock, 4 Goldcrest, 1 Stonechat, 1 Black Redstart, Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Ships Today

This is the British Replenishment ship 'RFA Tideforce' on manoeuvres. More on this vessel Here.

On this day..........
Today's Sightings Here