Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sunday on Portland

After a very unpleasant Saturday morning with rain and sleet, Sunday was rather good, with wall to wall sunshine and very warm. With a lot happening, Portland was a logical place to go, and many hundreds of birders thought the same.
We stopped off initially at Suckthumb Quarry for an hour where the long staying Hoopoe was still present. Never been there before so parking and access was a bit uncertain. As it turned out we ended up about as far away as was possible, but it got us a few good birds. It was evident that birds were coming in all the time, with a constant northward movement of hirundines and small jobs. Warblers were everywhere, mainly Chiffchaff Blackcap and Willow with a few Whitethroat around. A bonus was the reeling Grasshopper Warbler found shortly after a local birder pointed us in the direction of the Hoopoe. This proved to be easy to see, feeding on a short piece of turf on the quarry track, but stayed well away from the attendant photographers.

On the way back to the car we found a female Redstart in the horse paddocks but a passerby on the adjacent footpath flushed it so i never got any good images.
The bill was very busy, being full of day trippers. Being calm and sunny the sea was rather quiet with only the resident Razorbills, Guillemots and Shags on view. There were several singing Rock Pipits of course.

We made our way to the observatory, checking the Little Owl in the quarry. On the hill side we could see a big crowd waiting for the Bluethroat. We were told it was very elusive and only a few had seen it all morning so we headed down to the east cliff and the Western Subalpine Warbler.
This was a difficult bird, staying low in the alexanders and it was rare t see more than a fraction of the bird. Got a superb scope view of t's head from ten yards before I concentrated on the camera. The Chiffs and Willows feeding with it were a lot more confiding but over the course of half an hour we did get a few brief good views.

We called in to the Fleet for a few minutes but the tide was out, there were hardly any birds on view but I did get to see three rather distant Sandwich Terns far out by the fish farm pens.
I was hoping to see the wintering Pallas's Warbler at Portisham-it had been seen earlier in the day. We met several groups birders there but none had seen the bird and we didn't either. Chiffchaffs and Backcaps were singing, as were tits and Chaffinches, but there was neither sight nor sound of the Pallas's though we all covered a large section of the footpath. At this time of year i would have expected to hear it sing-I did surreptitiously play a recording a couple of times but got no response.
Despite the warm day, our one and only butterfly-a Tortoiseshell was seen here.

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