Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dorset Dips to Hampshire Ticks

I didn't manage to blog last night, I was just too pooped!

We started out sea-watching from the Portland Bird Observatory where we'd spent the night. Murphy's Law struck when I saw a Red-throated Diver fly by whilst Mary was in the loo. I have it & she needs it for the Year List.

Pete, the very helpfull ringer had told us that a couple of Puffins usually hang about off the Bill. I've never seen one, so we headed down for a look. There were lots of Razorbills & Guillemots, but no Puffins. We saw a Peregrine dive bomb a bird, no idea what as we only saw the feathers explode & float down to the sea. I was on the phone booking a hostel at the time & the first I knew of it was the loud 'whoosh' of the diving raptor that gave me such a start that I think I may have shocked the YHA lady with an expletive as I ducked!

I was really disappointed at my lack of a Puffin. It's the one bird I'd really like to see. Oh well, another time!

We are definitely masochists as we stopped off at the Bridging Camp in Wyke Regis for another go at the Richard's Pipit. We got quite excited a couple of times, but they were just Meadow Pipits. Quote of the day was from a lady walking towards us as we arrived. The sun was behind us & I had the scope in the back pack. She said that I'd frightened her as I looked like an alien!

Stopped at Radipole RSPB in Weymouth as a 2 Glossy Ibis had been there earlier. No sign of them either! At least while watching a Buzzard, 3 high up House Martins flew into view - first for the year.

Radipole RSPB......manky ducks

Then for a change of scenery we went to explore Studland NNR. It was quite an interesting habitat, but not as nice as Arne, which we visited quite a few years ago. We did feel quite conspicuous with bins, scope & camera in the vicinity of a naturist beach! One chap (fully clothed) saw us walking towards him up a path & dived off the path into the gorse bushes, never to be seen again!

View of Pool Harbour & Studland NNR
Stayed in Swanage, and had an early start at Durlston Head. We had never been before, but were thoroughly impressed. The scenery was fantastic & we had more superb views of Razorbills & Guillemots. They make a great noise too, and are quite entertaining the way they all dive together when they are startled. We were hoping for a Puffin or Dartford Warbler, but no joy. Still, the walk was worth the effort despite the lack of new birds.

Sea & gorse to check

Middlebere on Hartland Moor NNR was the next stop. We had been told that the place was alive with Dartford Warblers & several Spoonbills had been reported recently. Yet again we were disappointed, no Spoonbills to be seen & we were hailed on in the hide. As we walked back out from the hide, Mary suggested a slight detour onto a ridge & we were glad she had. I spotted a grey bird vanish into a gorse bush & shortly after a stonking male Dartford Warbler appeared on the top of the bush. At last, a new bird! Maybe our luck was changing.....

Dartford Warbler tick

Off to Hordle in Hampshire in search of a Rose-coloured Starling. It has been there a while & has been hanging about near the War Memorial. Our problem was trying to find the Memorial, but once we did it was a cinch.....a chap was there pointing a huge lense into a tree! Easy!

Popped down to Pennington Marsh on the coast. Another interesting habitat which turned up a Whimbrel (new for both of us), a Greenshank & 46 Turnstones for Mary. We were now cold & knackered & headed for the YH in Burley.

Nanook of thre North at Pennington Marsh

A mixed couple of days, lots of dipping but some fantastic areas explored.

I'm now on 161 + 1
Mary on 99 + 1 (no longer bottom of the Year List Race)

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