Saturday, 31 August 2013

Portland Bill

A slightly rushed post this unfortunately that will include some photography and birding elements to it (mainly the latter!) as for the past 4 nights I have been staying at the Portland Bird Observatory. The weather was sunny which was great for everyone except those who wanted to see some birds and the wind direction was hopeless...still I saw a lot of species that in my neck of the woods would be amazingly rare.

On all 4 days numbers of Yellow Wagtails (peaking at 200) and Wheatear (peaking at 150) were impressive and far better than the odd two or three I see on my local patch!

Wheatear (it was interesting to note the extreme variation among this species)
Ravens were widespread and Little Owls we fairly common amongst the many quarries on the island...

Little Owl
Right now onto some migrants!

A nightingale was present throughout my stay though as always with this species proved very elusive.


It is astonishing to think that this small butterfly has possibly flown all the way from Southern Europe!

Clouded Yellow

Whilst seeing species in the hand is never as good as in the field, it was great to have the opportunity to see the birds up close.

By far my favourite part of the trip was the sea-watching. For photography it was absolutely useless (I really need to go on a pelagic trip!) but for birding it offered two lifers for me and some fairly close views of both. 

Balearic Shearwater passage was slow for the first couple of days but by the end of the week was amazing, with 382 counted on my final day (a portland record?). This is a species the IUCN view as 'critically endangered' so to see this number (sometimes in flocks of over 50 birds was really quite remarkable!)....

Balearic Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater (!!)

It's always nice to find your own birds and on Friday evening, whilst photographing the Balearics I was astonished to find this Long-Tailed Skua flying around offshore. Typically no-one else was around to enjoy this bird!

Long-Tailed Skua

Long-Tailed Skua

And finally to finish off some half-decent photographs of two species I have never really photographed well before, the Linnet and Kestrel...



Just a quick thank you to the Portland Bird Observatory for their great hospitality and company, as well as the BTO who funded me for this trip... I will no doubt be returning next year! As always thanks for reading!