Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Should Have Gone To SpecSavers?
We start today with an apology and amendment, but only to the whole of the Royal Navy. The eyes must have failed me when identifying what was thought to be G88 but was in fact D98, HMS York not HMS Glasgow as posted yesterday. There is an additional embarrassment as my youngest daughter is now a member of a staunch naval family, the Yorks of Sydney, Australia. See Comments!

However, that was small beer compared with today's daunting task of finding the proverbial 'needle in a haystack' armed with less than scant information. It was well after 20:00 last evening that a text was received announcing "Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler at the Value House, Wyke Regis". Where the hell is that? resulting in a couple of phone calls to find out.

So, this is the lie of the land, I'm in Weymouth and the bird is on The Fleet

somewhere close to Littlesea. Having found where the Value House is I headed there and made a reci of the likely places that such a bird might favour.

I don't care for the name given above, much preferring the alternative Hume's Leaf Warbler, one of the smallest birds ever to reach our shores which I have only ever seen once in my life at Ilford, Essex in February 2004. I doubt there have ever been more than 4 in the county of Dorset? so a great bird to re-locate - this being a photo of Hume's Leaf Warbler,

and this being the woodland where it was presumed to be? Walking the full length, luck lent a hand as more detailed information was received as to its whereabouts yesterday, and then a message from Ian Dodd, who was at home about a mile away, telling me that I was looking in the right bush - as he had spotted me at that distance! Many Thanks Ian.

I was equally surprised to find, same as the Spotted Sandpiper just 6 days ago, no other 'birders' searching and spent a full 90 minutes here alone. Luck prevailed, and as my hearing (unlike my sight) is fairy acute and I am familiar with the 'call' it wasn't long before I got on to it. It called 3 times then fell silent, let out another 5 'peeps', seemingly much closer, then there it was flitting through the bushes like a large Moth.

Right on cue for them, this is when Paul Rendall & wife Jill turned up at the same time as Graham Bright and Steve Grove, an added bonus as far as I'm concerned as I hadn't seen Steve for quiet a few months. It continued throughout to be both very flighty and vocal, but rarely perched for more than a few seconds at a time.

A little later we were joined by Ken Parker (second from right) who also saw it. While looking there were also a number of Bullfinch, a couple of Goldcrest, a Grey Squirrel and a party of foraging

Long-tailed Tits one of which appeared to be carrying

nesting material?

Deciding to walk home via Ferry Bridge, there was an excellent view across the fields of Portland in the half sunlight, plus a few

interesting Fungi.

Even as far away as Ferry Bridge (about a mile and a half) it could be seen that the Brent Geese were not being allowed any peace to feed at this state of the tide.

A combination of low flying Royal Navy Helicopter,

powerful and very noisy Army Watercraft and a succession of dogs

being allowed to plunge into the waters of the Fleet

kept a couple of thousand of them on the wing for long periods of time. That's all, I'll resist getting on the 'Soap Box'!

There were a good selection (as usual) of common birds along this stretch of the Fleet including more than 30 Oystercatcher, 4 Little Egret, a Grey Heron,

15 Curlew,

a couple of dozen

Red-breasted Merganser plus a few


Despite the lack of information, I returned home contented with my second Dorset Tick in 6 days, an opportunity to talk with those who have been too long absent and of course the pleasure of walking the banks of this unique watercourse once again.