Saturday, 15 January 2011

Great To Be Out The Bill Again

Little change in the weather again today, still mild but gloomy while at Radipole things also remained the same with high water levels and low bird counts. On the way a few Redwing were recorded but there was little else of significance on the circuit, except maybe c3 Lapwing and a Cetti's Warbler, until reaching the car park where I fell into conversation with Luke Phillips the reserve Information Officer. He was showing me a female Tufted Duck which had now gained enough confidence to be fed by hand, when he suddenly called "Bittern" allowing me time to turn and watch this majestic bird flying just above the reeds. Having already seen c2 of these exquisitely marked Herons this year there was no addition to that list, but this was the first record in Dorset which is added to that separate list.

With little else in prospect that side of the Beach Road, it was straight to Portland and an immediate search around the housing estates at Top Hill. In the area of Easton there were c3 Goldcrests sighted but no sign of the semi-resident Black Redstart or for that matter the Siberian Chiffchaff, so onward to the Bill.

Along the West Cliff a lone Fulmar appeared to be prospecting for a nest site, but maybe this is too early and it was just enjoying the turbulence?

This record was an addition to the Year List and inspired me to look out this not to good photograph of a 'Blue Phase' individual, taken from the Buchan Alpha Oil Rig some years ago. It may be noticeable that this bird is slightly darker, especially on the neck and head, which give an overall appearance of a blue sheen. This 'morph' change is mostly confined to birds in northern waters, but occasionally stray to our southern climes.

and while we're at it I'll take advantage and show this photograph of the Southern Hemisphere cousin, the Southern or Antarctic Fulmar. Slightly larger, its appearance, to me at least, looks more sleek and is one of the birds I enjoyed the most while in the Southern Oceans.

Arriving at the crest of the hill above Culverwell all 3 lighthouses come into view, and despite being a little on the gloomy side little can detract from this splendid vista. The active tower at the Point of the Bill and attendant Coast Guard cottages,

and the Portland Bird Observatory, gleaming in its new livery, at what is known as the Old Lower Light. Once there Martin Cade the Warden was quick to point my attention to

this female Blackcap

overwintering in the Obs garden and

taking full advantage of a free meal by way of apples, fat and nuts. From this vantage point a good number of Auks could be seen passing just off-shore, but armed with only binoculars it wasn't possible to say if they were Guillemot or

Razorbill as in the picture. The short walk to the East Cliff soon sorted that out with both in evidence, the latter being another addition to the list as was

Kittiwake. These photographs were also taken on the Buchan Alpha, the first showing an adult,

then head detail,

a juvenile in splendid plumage and

finally another juvenile having a go at its Dad or Mum?

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