April 3rd – Portland   Leave a comment

A cold front moving south, which was to lead to snow and high winds in the north the next day, looked like it would produce a fall of migrants, perhaps comparable to the one that occurred last Saturday. As a result I made the effort to get up at 0515 and get to Portland by  0645.

Instead of heading straight for the Observatory, I checked out the Barleycrates/Reap Lane area, about a mile north of the Bill, as this is where most Ring Ouzels have been seen. These ‘mountain Blackbirds’ are a scarce but regular early migrants. There is a good chance that I will see one in Scotland in June  or on autumn migration but it seemed prudent to get one in the spring. In the event I saw a female, but only in flight.

Far more satisfying was several Common Redstarts in the area and up to 60 Wheatears, although most of the latter arrived a couple of hours after dawn. Phylloscs, ie Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers, were quite common, with Willows predominating. Other interesting birds included a Golden Plover overhead, a Peregrine and a small pale warbler that looked just like a Lesser Whitethroat but about ten days too early!

Later I headed down to the Observatory where they had a busy morning ringing, but not on a par with Saturday. As the rush of migrants was now over, I headed home.

Barleycrates Lane, Portland.

A male Redstart, perhaps on route to south-western Scotland or central Wales.

Willow Warblers outnumbered Chiffchaffs

A male Wheatear, a common breeder in Britain's upland areas.

A short distant migrant, Meadow Pipits are common in the early spring.

A male Linnet, another local breeder and partial migrant.

Stonechats seem to have declined in recent years but several pairs can still be seen around Portland.

This male Kestrel perched on fence posts......

... before pouncing on prey in the fields...

.... before returning.....

.... to its original post.

Posted April 4, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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