22nd – 30th September – back home in Dorset.   Leave a comment

I returned from Fiji late on the 21st after a journey that lasted 47 hours and involved five flights. Although I have returned from the Pacific on previous trips, I have never felt so jet lagged, probably exacerbated by a nasty cold I picked up on route. My body stayed on Fiji time (eleven hours out), I would fall asleep each afternoon and then not sleep at night!

In spite of this I managed to visit Durlston on the 23rd, 25th and 26th to continue our ringing program, with several of our group away at the moment, I wished to ensure the coverage was as full as possible. We ringed good numbers of birds on the first two dates but the latter was curtailed by increasing wind and rain.

Feeling it would be too windy to ring on the 28th, I visited Portland Bird Observatory. There were very few birds about, but it proved to be an excellent social event, a chance to catch up with news and views from many of the Portland regulars, most of whom I have not seen since the spring. Also there was a chance to browse the Ob’s extensive natural history book store and of course I bought a couple of books.

One birder I haven’t seen for ages (mainly because he has been abroad for much of the year) is Paul Baker, aka Bagsy. Paul manages to update his blog daily, something I would like to do but have failed miserably to achieve. See http://bagsy-thecaptainslog.blogspot.co.uk/

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Bagsy poses with his eponymous new motor.

IMG_3866-Lodmoor-Spoonbills

I had better luck birding at nearby Lodmoor, here six out of a flock of seven Spoonbills were photographed flying over the marsh.

IMG_3864-Bar-headed-Geese

Birders at Lodmoor seemed just as interested in a pair of Bar-headed Geese out in the middle of the marsh. Although a long distance migrant (breeding in Tibet and wintering in India) the chances of them being genuine migrants are close to zero.

IMG_3852-Med-&-BH-Gull

Up to 50 Mediterranean Gulls dropped in whilst I was at Lodmoor (at least four can be seen here with Black-headed Gulls). Once a scarce visitor to Dorset, now up to 100 pairs breed in the county and gatherings of up to 500 have been recorded in the Weymouth area.

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A winter plumaged Grey Plover at Lodmoor.

On the 29th Paul, Ian A and I ringed at Fleets Lane in Poole. We ringed about 45 birds. At this time of year most warblers have left with two exceptions, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Unlike most migrant warblers that winter south of the Sahara, the majority of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs winter in north Africa and the Mediterranean. Some over winter in the UK but these are thought (at least in the case of Blackcaps) to be birds from Europe rather than European breeders.

September ended with a very busy morning at Durlston. On a grey and misty morning, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps just poured through the garden. As always, we had to manage our operation to cope with large numbers and had to close some nets. By midday we had ringed 225 birds, all but 17 being the of two species mentioned above. Also there were large numbers of Swallows and Meadow Pipits moving overhead, involving thousands of birds. Durlston has to be one of the best places in the UK to see the spectacle of autumn migration.

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A small number of Meadow Pipits were ringed. The photo shows the very long tertials that completely cover the primaries on the folded wing.

P9300574-Chiff-&-Willow

At this time of year Chiffchaffs have replaced Willow Warblers as the commonest Phylloscopus warbler. We trapped a single Willow today compared with 77 Chiffs. Although superficially similar, Chiffchaff (left) is slightly smaller, has a shorter supercilium, shorter primary extension, browner flanks and has a more rounded crown.

Posted September 30, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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