19th – 20th January – cold weather birding and some nice cakes.   Leave a comment

With the freeze continuing I spent some time birding over the weekend in the hope that I might see some interesting birds displaced by the cold weather. The temperature on Saturday was not only below freezing but there was a strong easterly breeze making it very raw in exposed areas.

As a lot of displaced birds had been reported from Weymouth and I knew of a few goodies there I drove to Radipole first. The area around the north hide was pretty quiet with just a group of Shoveler on view but I did hear several Bearded Tits on the way back and had a couple of sightings of Marsh Harrier.

I had no luck with Black Redstart at the usual stake out but a pair of Velvet Scoters showed very well in Portland Harbour. Nearby at Ferrybridge the sudden appearance of car park man had me running for the ticket machine and as a result I missed the resident Snow Bunting by seconds, which apparently flew north just before I arrived. Photographing Mediterranean Gulls and small waders was some compensation. Fieldfare were much in evidence with flocks everywhere and small numbers of Skylarks were moving east through Ferrybridge. I had intended to go on to Abbotsbury to look for Long-tailed Duck and Scaup but the wind was bitter at Ferrybridge and the thought of walking out to the ‘tank traps’ along the exposed shingle in a brisk easterly was daunting so I returned home via Lytchett Bay where I met up with Shaun. Again there were Fieldfare everywhere, two Marsh Harriers put on a show and a three Woodlarks flew over, most unusual for the site. Back home, I defrosted with a much-needed hot bath.


A flock of Black-headed, Common and Mediterranean Gulls at Ferrybridge.


Adult winter Mediterranean Gulls


Adult winter Mediterranean Gull


Dunlin and Ringed Plover


Small numbers of Skylarks were moving east.


Small Mouth where the Fleet meets Portland Harbour. This is the place where Margaret first landed in the UK after her eight year boat -trip from South Africa. They sailed to Portland Harbour from France, anchored just the other side of the bridge and landed the dingy here.


The snow cover was light in Poole and almost non-existent in Weymouth but still pretty deep between Dorchester and Bere Regis.

The WeBS count two weeks ago was cancelled due to fog and so was reconvened for today. With a couple of hours free beforehand I put a net up in the garden in case any wintering thrushes paid us a visi,t but instead caught two Blackcap, the first I have seen in the garden this year.


A female Blackcap. Numbers wintering in the UK seem to be on the rise and they seem to be able to withstand severe weather by visiting gardens.

On my way to Holes Bay I had time to make two brief stops to see birds that had already been found, a Black Redstart at Upton Park and a two Ruff in a field just north of the Upton by-pass.



Black Redstart at Upton Park

Due to the low tide being higher than usual there were few birds in my section of Holes Bay during the count but the north-eastern quadrant was packed with Wigeon, Teal, Dunlin and other waders. 15 Spoonbill and 190 Avocets were highlights, whilst hundreds of Fieldfare flew over, accompanied by a few Skylarks and two Woodlarks. In the drain behind PC World at least six Chiffchaffs were braving the cold and a Common Sandpiper fed along the margins.


WeBS counts have shown that Holes Bay along with Poole Park and Wareham Channel are the best areas for Mute Swans in Poole Harbour.

Later we joined John and Anita at Poole Quay for lunch and in the later afternoon we all went round to Janis’ where Kara had been busy baking all day so even more food was on offer.


Janis was taking photos of the girls and was using a photo umbrella with a slave flash which fired when I used the flash on my pocket camera, this produced a very washed out picture although I think the effect is quite pleasing.


Amber was looking a bit glum when we arrived but a short time with auntie Anita cheered her up.


Kara and her hamster ‘Fluffpuff’


Kara had been baking cakes all afternoon …….


…. which were as delicious as they looked.

Posted January 22, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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