19th – 26th April 2014: recent birding and ringing.   Leave a comment

Over the last week I have made several attempts at ringing at both Durlston and Fleets Lane but none have been overly successful, culminating with an attempt at Durlston on the 25th which resulted in the capture of just two retrap Wrens. We did ring our first Common Whitethroat early in the week at Durlston and Mick caught a couple of retrap Whitethraots that we ringed as first years last autumn

 

P4210315-Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat at Durlston.

 

P4210311-Firecrest-f

Firecrests are usually a bird of late autumn, with very few occurring in spring, so it was pleasing to trap this female on 21st April, especially was in breeding condition, so confirming local breeding.

 

P4230316-Hedgehog

As I was leaving for Durlston early one morning I saw this Hedgehog on the front lawn. It had rolled into a ball, but I supposed this was in reaction to my presence. Later Margaret called me to say it was obviously sick and she had put it in a box in the conservatory. With no improvement by mid-afternoon I contacted a local animal hospital, who later took it into care.

 

IMG_0075-Corfe-ridge

I had a number of immovable appointments on the 24th, which was a bit frustrating as both a Richard’s Pipit and  a Hoopoe where found near Studland. In the end Margaret and I did get out but not until late evening when we went to a spot near Corfe Castle hoping to hear a Nightingale sing.

 

IMG_0084-Nightingale

Nightingale numbers have declined markedly in recent years with them now absent from several previously reliable locations. However I usually get to hear one or two singing birds each year, either on migration or at a known breeding site, but I seldom see anything more than a brief glimpse. I was very surprised when we arrived at the site on the south slope of the Corfe to Ulwell ridge to find this Nightingale was singing out in the open.

IMG_0078-Nightingale

It was well past 8pm and the light was fading so the image quality isn’t the best, but I think this is the first Nightingale I have ever photographed in the UK, apart that is from the odd bird that we have ringed.

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Sunset over the Corfe ridge.

P4260336-Portland-Bill

On the 25th I spent the morning at Portland Bill. Once again I failed to connect with a large arrival of migrants but with a strong southerly wind the conditions were ideal for seawatching, something that clearly occurred to every other birder in the area.

P4260334-Portland-bill

Most birders scan the area just to the right of the Pulpit Rock, hoping to get onto east-bound seabirds at the earliest opportunity, they can be tracked until they pass behind the Obelisk. Views to the east of the Obelisk are into the sun and involve birds rapidly disappearing. I stuck it out from 0645 – 1015 but still there were a few good birds that passed soon after I departed.

IMG_0109-Ravens

A couple of Ravens were in the Bill area.

IMG_0098-Raven

Raven numbers have increased considerably in recent years. This may be due to a cessation of direct persecution or finding  alternative sources of food.

IMG_0104-raven

Powerful birds, Ravens will feed on the eggs and young of many birds but the abundance of road killed mammals may form a large part of their diet.

IMG_0094-Arctic-Skua

During the seawatch I saw four Great Skuas but they were always at a fair distance. This dark phase Arctic Skua flew directly overhead but was into the sun before I got my camera on it.

IMG_0093-Manx-Shearwater

Manx Shearwaters were moving past the Bill in small numbers.

IMG_0096-Whimbrel

It’s not just shearwaters, skuas and terns that can be seen on a spring seawatch. A pair of Gadwall flying by out to sea was an unusual sight. More expected was this flock of twelve Whimbrel moving between their African wintering and Scandinavian/Siberian breeding grounds.

IMG_0111-Radipole-sculpture

I had to call into Radipole RSPB reserve on the way back to  look at this bit of ‘modern art ‘that has caused so much controversy. Erected as part of a local art exhibition, it has caused outrage among some local birders, whilst others have suggested that such ‘works of art’ will encourage those who are not committed to conservation to enjoy the beauty of the local wildlife reserves. For an extreme view see Brett Spence’s blog http://bretteeblahblahblah.blogspot.co.uk/ but don’t click if you are offended by strong language!

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