Saturday April 21st
Weather: warm sunshine with a cold easterly breeze.
Portland Bill, 0700
The breezy conditions meant that a seabird passage was a distinct possibility and in the end we saw a close dark-phase Arctic Skua, a flock of migrating terns (probably Common) and plenty of Gannets, some really close. Other birds here included lots of Guillemots and Razorbills as well as a few Wheatears and the resident Rock Pipits.
Kingbarrow Quarry, 0900
The quarry next to the hotel was full of migrants this morning including Redstart, Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats, Blackcaps and a Sedge Warbler. The resident Little Owl was seen briefly but we soon found another which was much more co-operative.
Barleycrates Lane, 1100
More Wheatears and Willow Warblers here along with an early Whinchat and the first House Martins most of us had seen this year. A Sparrowhawk flashed past and was only seen by a lucky few.
A poor showing here with just a few distant Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Sandwich Terns. The Raven made his lunchtime fly-past on cue as usual. The pair of wagtails feeding just by the car park turned out to be a male and female White Wagtail.
Radipole RSPB Reserve, 1400
As usual a good range of wildfowl here including Gadwall, Teal, Shelduck and Ruddy Duck. A Common Sandpiper was a good find near the reserve centre and Cetti's Warblers were heard everywhere with one or two showing well. The North Hide produced good views of Kingfisher and House Martins. Reed Warblers were heard but not seen and a Bearded Tit was seen flying back and forth over the reeds. An early Swift was seen high over the reed beds at the north end of the reserve.
We finished off with a quick look at the far west side of the reserve but saw little apart from a few Little Grebes.
Sunday April 23rd
Weather: much as yesterday but with intermittent cloud cover and a light southerly breeze.
The Verne, 0700
This area of scrub on the north slopes of the island had plenty of songbirds this morning including Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats.
Wareham Forest, 1100
Parking at Sherford Bridge we walked west into Wareham Forest, a huge area of heathland and conifer plantations. A Mistle Thrush was singing from a high perch on a tree top and later a Song Thrush was also found. Siskins were seen regularly, all flying over at some height apart from one which gave us a distant view through the telescopes. Several Buzzards were present along with a single Kestrel. The highlights were the Dartford Warblers which gave us a series of prolonged and close views. The singing Redstart was pretty smart as well, although not so co-operative. Perhaps the most frustrating sighting were the 2 Crossbills which flew off just as we found them feeding in the pines next to the path. One of the group managed to hear a distant Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming; the rest of us just heard the other 2 species! Most of us heard the Woodlark that gave a brief burst of song but sadly we never heard any more of it.
© Bob Ford/Nature Portfolio
© Bob Ford/Nature Portfolio
Arne RSPB Reserve, 1030
Lunch was had outdoors here with Marsh Tits calling nearby but refusing to be seem. The walk to the Middlebere Lake hide was quiet until we reached the hide. Looking across the creek to the fields opposite we had the rare chance to watch a Roe Deer and a Fox at the same time. A pair of Yellow-legged Gulls, an adult and a first-year, appeared on the mud in front of the hide. Off to the far right were a pair of Spoonbills and several Little Egrets. Close examination of the waders feeding in the creek nearby revealed several Knot and Grey Plover amongst the Redshank.
After a rest in the hide we started back to the car park and lunch.
We were walking through some woodland when a very distinctive song was heard - a Wood Warbler!
Sadly we only managed the briefest of views of this lovely bird but we did enjoy the opportunity to listen to its lovely song.
We were almost back at the hotel when we saw the final species for the weekend – a party of 4 Little Terns flying across the road at Ferrybridge, just next to the van!
Finishing with a splendid cream tea back at the car park we found we had accumulated a very respectable 99 species of birds. Well done everyone!
Looking forward to our next trip out together,