With family coming up for Easter, opportunities for getting out were rather limited over the holiday. Friday was shopping, Sunday and Monday were reserved for the visitors so that just left Saturday, and Colin wasn't impressed with the lack of targets when I spoke on Friday night. I did however have Portland in mind. Over the previous few days, one or more Vagrant Emperor dragonflies had been seen-rather elusive but there was a chance, and Saturday seemed best for the weather, so off we went.
William had reported seeing an Emperor on Friday in a car park below Southwell, so we made that our first port of call. First problem, no wildlife enthusiasts, second it was cold and windy and thirdly there didn't seem to be any suitable locations. I had a search anyway but came up with nothing. I eventually discovered it had been a brief flyby, and I also learnt it was location for Wall Lizards, which would have been worth seeing had it been a bit warmer and sunnier.
So we left and went to the Bill which was filling up with tourists. One or two Wheatears were flying around in the MOD compound, and there were lots of auks Shags and Gannets off the west cliffs, so we picked up a few year ticks. A search around the Bill failed to locate Purple Sandpipers mainly I suspect due to the large number of people clambering over the rocks taking selfies. There was a rather nice sailing ship offshore.
We then went over to the observatory, stopping off at the quarry where there was a rather vocal Grasshopper Warbler singing, but typically not showing (they had a rather impressive 12+ in the area over the next few days). The obligatory quarry Little Owl shot-
We called in at the bookshop but I didn't see anything to tempt me so I went to ask Martin Cade for advice about the Emperor. Turned out he had no details of the recent sightings and had spent many unsuccessful hours searching over the previous week. The observatory log was rather poor, with few birds other than Wheatears being reported (should have been there today, with loads of things coming in), but decided to walk up to the Top Fields anyway. It was cold, windy and rather birdless though Swallows were flying through on all the time .
Having heard that there were a few waders at Ferrybridge we called in briefly, but there was a distinct lack of Whimbrels and plovers, in fact there were only two Oystercatchers visible. I did see my first Common Terns of the year though, but apparently missed a couple of Sandwich Terns.
A stop off at Radipole was very brief. Very little there or at Lodmoor so we decided to call it a day, with a diversion to Lytchett Fields for the over wintering Lesser Yellowlegs.
This was a new site for us and a bit of a challenge as there were no real visitor facilities and directions assumed you knew the place. Had to park in a side street, walk down a long lane and through the gate where a marshy area could be seen. One Pied Wagtail, a few gulls and a Little Egret were the only birds from the viewpoint, but at least there was a display board telling us we were at the wrong viewpoint. So retraced our steps, down another lane and over a stile into the grazing marsh where we could see a couple of distant birders.
The pools held a lot of birds, mainly Black Headed Gulls, Shelduck Mallard and Teal, with a few waders. Mainly Black Tailed Godwits, there were also a couple of Ruff, and several parties of Redshank. The Lesser Yellowlegs was a bit elusive, tending to associate with the Redshanks but often disappearing behind large clumps of juncus. It was a long way off and too far for the camera, but it was nice to see one in breeding plumage again-I think my last one was in 1993, and this was also the first Lesser Yellowlegs since the 2002 Amwell bird, and the one in 2003 on the Hayle.
On the way back to the car two male Orange Tips on Periwinkle were worth stopping for but the wind was a problem, so most photos went straight into the bin.