30 Nov 18

Rufus Castle, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Wood and Penns Wood

A bit calmer today after yesterday's storm. The beach at Church Ope Cove certainly took a beating with many stones, boulders and pebbles displaced and a ton of seaweed again. Not so many Kelp flies about, but those that were on the wing were being picked off by 5 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail and a couple of Wrens.

In amongst the seaweed were 2 Carrion Crows looking for food. One piece they hadn't found just yet was what looked like the decomposed head of a Conger Eel. It was certainly big enough and when I saw it first I did wonder if it was the skull of a Fox or Dog. But no it was definitely a fish and a very large one at that. Conger Eel would be my best guess.

Nothing in the grounds of St Andrews Church, but a patient wait in Penns Wood revealed a Firecrest, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Chaffinches, a Blue Tit, a Great Tit, Robin and 2 Redwings. Also here a Grey Squirrel.

A Carrion Crow scavenging in amongst the seaweed.

With so much washed up I wasn't surprised it hadn't found this.........

.......decomposed head of a Conger Eel. I'm sure it will soon.

Just the one Pied Wagtail on the beach.

A few Rock Pipits scurrying around in the rocks.

Here another waits for the Kelp Flies to reappear.

The waves are still rolling in at Church Ope Cove.

The rocks are getting a good bashing again.

This looks like a rogue wave, but as low water approaches this is a large wave breaking over The Shambles a good mile out to sea. Not a place to be in a fishing boat today.

Portland Marina

A quick visit to the marina to check the boat and whilst I was there 3 Shags were swimming in the marina by the breakwater, where there were also 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. On the breakwater there were 3 Cormorants drying their wings.

In the background The Mulberry's and then the breakwater for Portland Marina.

Inside the marina these 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. The individual on the left I suspect is a 1st Winter drake.

The other way round.

The adult drake Red-breasted Merganser.

And the female with her red-head.

Do you know I still struggle between Shags and Cormorants. However this is a Shag, slender necked with a more dagger-like bill.

These on the other hand are Cormorants. A lot larger in size and that bill is pretty powerful.

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

29 Nov 18

Out and about

The second storm in two days and winds up to 70 mph battering the coast. The only sheltered bit I could find was Church Ope Cove, but even here the waves were crashing onto the beach. Not a lot about and the best I could do here was 1 Kestrel, 2 Ravens, Blue Tit, Robin and 2 Blackbirds.

From Church Ope Cove I headed to the Obs and took a walk down to the Bill via the huts and then back up alongside the fence of QinetiQ and back to the Obs. To say it was windy would be an understatement. In fact its the first time I've not been able to walk up to the Pulpit for fear of being covered and then dragged into the sea by the colossal waves.

Main highlights were a few Rock Pipits, Shags and Cormorants. The best was saved until last with 2 Firecrests and 3 Goldcrests in the Obs garden at 4:09pm.

Birds here were few and far between but I managed to record: 4 Shag, 12 Cormorant, 4 Kestrel, 3 Pheasant, 8 Herring Gull, 37 Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, 7 Rock Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Dunnock, Robin, 2 Blackbird, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven, 8 House Sparrow, 12 Chaffinch, 5 Linnet and 4 Goldfinch.

Here are a few images from today

Church Ope Cove with some hefty waves rolling in.

The cliffs to the north of the beach were taking a right bashing.

It wasn't just Church Ope Cove as the full force of the storm was felt along The Bill.

The Trinity House Obelisk at the southernmost tip of Portland.

The Lighthouse and Obelisk

Not much fun for sea birds. These are Cormorants heading around The Bill.

On dry land there were 4 Kestrels working the Crown Estate Fields. There was no respite with the wind here either and the Kestrels were seen resting on the fences and posts.

Not much fun for the Rock Pipits either as they tried to find shelter.

Meanwhile in my back garden today, the Grey Squirrel has enlarged the hole in the feeder and demolished the sunflower seeds. Time for a metal feeder.

Ships Today

I couldn't believe my eyes this afternoon as this Italian LPG Tanker "Syn Zania" made her way out of Weymouth Bay. She must have stopped off in the bay because of the storms, yet here she is on her way again to Sarroch, Italy from Antwerp where she left 3 days ago. More on this vessel Here.

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

28 Nov 18

Swannery Car Park, Radipole

On the way back from Dorchester I popped into the Swannery Car park to have a look at the gulls. The car park here usually has a good number of gulls throughout the day and often settle here before heading of to Weymouth Bay. However I'm not sure where they will be going today as Storm Diana batters our shores with winds up to 70mph.

When I arrived at around 2:15pm there were a good number of gulls. Sadly no Common Gulls but plenty of Black-headed Gulls, with several Mediterranean Gulls in amongst them. To the side of them were 20+ Herring Gull, a few Great Black-backed Gulls and 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with one dark individual.

Here are few images from this afternoon:

An adult Winter Great Black-backed Gull

And a 1CY Great Black-backed Gull.**

An adult Winter Lesser Black-backed Gull

These are both Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The heavy black markings on the right-hand bird are quite striking. Possibly a 4CY or very nearly an adult Winter bird which has just moulted out the brownish cast to the wing coverts and tertials.

Herring Gulls

And another adult Winter Herring Gull.

Black-headed Gulls. Two adult Winter birds on the left and a 1st Winter on the right. (Or should that be 1CY) 😉

This is an adult Winter Black-headed Gull. Well it should be, but it has retained almost all of its Summer "black" head. It is starting to moult out so should look like the fellow top left before long!

Not a Black-headed Gull, but an adult Mediterranean Gull in Winter plumage.

Okay from left to right the head of an adult Winter Black-headed Gull, then a 2nd Winter Mediterranean Gull and on the right an adult Mediterranean Gull. There isn't a lot of difference between the 2 Meds, but note the different bill colouration of the 2nd Winter bird and also the black in the wing, which is absent in the adult bird. Some great examples of 2nd Winter Here and adult Here.

**Ever wondered what the difference is between a 1CY (Calendar Year), 1st Winter, Juvenile, 2CY, 1st Summer, 2nd Winter etc. etc.

Well, gulls like many other birds take quite a few years to reach adulthood and in the process have different plumages at different stages of their life.

I'm not going to explain it, as it would be very easy to tie myself up in knots. However on the Bird Forum Blog Here and Here there are some really good explanations as to what the differences are. Good luck!

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

27 Nov 18


Rain stopped play today. In fact this afternoon just got darker and darker.

At least it didn't stop the birds visiting the back garden with 4 Great Tits, 2 Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches and House Sparrows all visiting the feeders. On the lawn a male Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock.

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

26 Nov 18

Rufus Castle and Church Ope Cove

A late afternoon walk down to Church Ope Cove, where for the first time in quite awhile there was a Black Redstart under the cliffs at the north-east corner of the cove. Also here were 3 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, 3 Wrens and 2 Herring Gulls.

Out to sea a fishing boat was heading back to Weymouth with a good 20+ gulls at the rear and a couple of Cormorants heading in the opposite direction.

No sign of the Firecrest from yesterday, but on the steps half-way up to Rufus Castle there were 2 Goldcrests, a Great Tit, Blue Tit and a Robin in the small copse on the right in Penns Weare Here.

Also on the steps I came across the headless corpse of a Kestrel. There were 3 Kestrels here on 14 Nov having a right dispute. Is it possible they had a fight to the end!!

Here are a few photos from this afternoon:

The Black Redstart appears to be back.

Not venturing far from the large boulders.......

......it stayed here for awhile before heading off to the southern end of the beach.

One of the 2 Herring Gulls lurking on the shoreline.

Just the 3 Rock Pipits here today.

Not sure why this Kestrel died, possibly the result of a fight with a rival. Who knows!!

A fishing boat returns to Weymouth with gulls for company.

Dawn, Ted and Benji at Rufus Castle.

And another pose for the camera.

Ted the rock climber.

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

25 Nov 18

Broadcroft Quarry Lane, Bumpers Lane, South-west Coast path, Rufus Castle, Penns Weare, Church Ope Cove, St Andrew's Church and Penns Wood.

Main highlight today was my first Firecrest this Winter at the back of Church Ope Cove behind the huts. Other highlights were 8 Rock Pipits, 1 Pied Wagtail and 3 Wrens on the beach.

Elsewhere there were 2 Goldcrests in Penns Wood and 5 in the Car Park across the road from the wood Here.

What was noticeable was the increased numbers of Robins along my walk with many birds singing from what I can only imagine are their overwintering territories.

Overhead on my travels were one or 2 Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also heard along Bumpers Lane.

Here are a few images from today:

One of the 8 Rock Pipits on the beach this morning.

This one seems to be doing alright catching Kelp Flies.

The only insects on the wing today appeared to Bluebottles soaking up the sum.

A Goldcrest in Penns Wood.

And his mate high up in the canopy.

One of the local Blackberries is just starting to come out in blossom. Not bad for November!!

These are Snowberries, also know as Waxberry or Ghostberry and is a member of the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.

This track would lead you down onto Broadcroft Quarry Lane, but for some reason has now blocked off. Sadly the bushes either side have been buried, which is a real shame as thrushes and finches have been using this area for winter food and cover. No one ever thinks of the consequences of dumping tons of rubble on vegetation.

This is Euonymus japonicus.............

..........which is just starting to bear fruit.

The berries are white now, but when they ripen they will look like this here.

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