Saturday, 20 March 2010

One Swallow Doesn't Make A Summer

An extremely blustery start to the day, with overcast sky and persistent light drizzle wasn't enough to deter the intrepid, but it was a slow start in the cemetery. With little to report I hurried across the road to the Radipole Reserve where at the kissing gate I was met by the sweet song of my first Willow Warbler of the year.

Willow Warbler

Although one or two have already been recorded in the county it's always nice to see this common little bird particularly the first. Similar to it's close relative the Chiffchaff, there are visible differences such as leg colour, brighter plumage etc but the real clincher is the afore mentioned sweet song. Very happy with this addition, it was a full 60 seconds before another entered the book and in quick succession a third. It was obvious things were on the move today (or maybe overnight) as I watched this mixed group of about a dozen each Sand Martin and Swallows. Despite there being more than one Swallow there was certainly no sign of summer, in fact the weather was getting progressively worse. By the time I reached the Visitor's Center, relocating the 'summer plumage' Black-tailed Godwit of a few days ago (plus another 'winter' bird, the rain had become much heavier. In the hope of some improvement during a bus ride to Portland, Top Hill was once again shrouded in mist as I plodded along a waterlogged Barleycrates.

(Barn) Swallow

Sand Martin

The walk along West Cliff was dismal to say the least, with the 25+ knot Southerly wind blowing the now heavy rain straight into my face. With the only sign of birdlife coming from a few arriving Linnet, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit I made the decision to short cut across Top Fields and head for the sanctuary of the Bird Observatory. At the Obs there were far more people than birds and the 'day list' showing just 3 notable species, the coffee was most welcome. Sally, a lady 'birder' from Essex, arrived with news of a few Wheatear on the Common, Gannet flying past the Bill and Purple Sandpiper on the rocks was enough to spur me into action, and in her company headed for Pulpit Rock where she was hoping to see Puffin. There we met Tony Conway and Phyl England 'scoping for the same, and as jammy as you like I managed to pick one up within minutes of arrival. Almost simultaneously a few Gannets, probably stimulated by the fresh wind, started to pass by (my first of the year) which was my cue to head off in search of the Wheatear. They too were obliging, and before catching the bus home I had counted a total of 19.

Wheatear male

Wheatear female

A few newly arrived Linnets

A lovely seascape


The Year List now stands at 125