Saturday February 4th
Weather: a dull grey day with a freezing north-easterly wind making birding very uncomfortable.
Portland Bill, 0900
A good variety of seabirds were seen at our first stop, mainly Gannets, Guillemots and Razorbills with a small group of Eider settled just offshore. A flock of Purple Sandpipers were feeding on the shoreline with some Turnstones. The seabird colony on the Westcliffs produced several Fulmars and some very smart Shags in breeding condition with their glossy green plumage and head crests.
Portland Castle, 1100
It was very cold at this point at the southern corner of Portland Harbour and most of the usual birds had left, leaving just a few Red-breasted Mergansers and a distant Razorbill.
The gull flock here had more Mediterranean Gulls than any other species - an all-time record count of 22. As the tide dropped waders started arriving and we soon had excellent views of Dunlins and Ringed Plovers.
© Bob Ford/Nature Portfolio
First-winter and second-winter Med Gulls at Ferrybridge
Langton Herring, 1400
Sheltered from the worst of the easterly wind we enjoyed a very pleasant walk at this classic but little-visited birding site. Wildfowl were the highlight here with large numbers of Pintail in particular. Redshank were a welcome sight as well as were a small flock of Goldeneye feeding out in the Fleet.
Weymouth Bay, 1600
Hoping to see the spectacle of the Weymouth Bay gull roost we instead found that the gulls had chosen the far end of the Bay, which was presumably warmer. The cold end of the Bay did hold a few Great-crested Grebes though.
Sunday February 5th
Weather: much warmer and brighter with hardly any wind at all.
Grove Point, 0900
Here we had a good view of the resident male Peregrine as well as lots of close views of Fulmars. Nearby we found a Stock Dove sat on a quarry cliff and were also treated to a dramatic display flight from a male Sparrowhawk.
The northern corner of Portland Harbour was clearly the place to be today with Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Firecrest feeding together in the trees on the shoreline. Out in the harbour we found 6 Black-necked Grebes and a distant Great Northern Diver.
Newton's Cove, 1200
The sea wall here was home to 2 Black Redstarts and a Grey Wagtail with a female Common Scoter feeding out in the Cove.
Lunch was had by the car park which produced yet another 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Black-tailed Godwit. On the way to the North Hide we found a record number of 37 Ruddy Ducks with a flock of Pochard. Nearby 2 Water Rails gave outstanding views feeding frantically at the edge of the reeds. Whilst we were watching these we were distracted by "pinging" calls behind us - a group of Bearded Tits feeding in the reedbed. Even more treats were waiting for us from the hide itself in the shape of 2 Spoonbills and a superb Marsh Harrier that persisted in hunting just in front of the hide. One of the group also managed to get a brief view of a Bittern but sadly it remained hidden from the rest of us.