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WEATHER: hazy sunshine all day, light breeze. Top temp 16C

Peter and Dinah are regular clients of mine and had booked three days in Dorset with me from today. They picked a great time to visit Dorset because the weather forecast was pretty good and October is a superb birding time as a rule.

However, this year has been very quiet on the migrant front throughout the south coast but recent sightings in the Weymouth and Portland area have included uncommon species such as Red-backed Shrike, Radde’s Warbler, Richard’s Pipit (today) but not many common migrants.

Peter and Dinah have a year list of 196 and hoped to add a few more with me to break their best  species year list of 200. No pressure then.

I collected them from the Premiere Inn in Weymouth and drove the short distance to RSPB Lodmoor entering from the northern track. We noted Cetti’s Warbler singing as we entered the reserve and a bunch of five Greenfinches flew over us. As we ambled along the west track we saw a few Chiffchaffs, Blue & Grteat Tits, Dunnocks and lots of Robins.


In the first pools of open water we watched Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin (20+), Common Snipe and two Redshanks. Teal and Mallards were common as were Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls, we also saw two Great Egrets, four Little Egrets, a few Grey herons, Lots of Cormorants, Canada Geese , Moorhens and we heard a Water Rail.

one of the 20+ Dunlins seen at Lodmoor

We couldn’t find the single Ruff that was supposed to be present and later we missed a Kingfisher as a guy called one that flew past as we watched from the viewing platform along the beach track. We found our fist Common Gull of the winter and a small flock of Meadow Pipits came down to wash and feed along the  shore of the lagoons. Two Pied wagtails flew over but we never saw a single bird of prey during our visit.

Common Gull with a Black-headed Gull hiding behind it

Along the northern track heading back towards the car we saw more Chiffchaffs and having heard of the presence of a Yellow-browed Warbler in the north-east corner we doubled back to re-check that area. About half-a-dozen Chiffchaffs were flitting about but we never saw or heard a YBW. Before we got back to the car we added Blackcap to our list and we watched more Chiffchaffs and Peter had a sighting of a Cetti’s Warbler. We saw Red Admiral, Small White and Speckled Wood Butterflies.

Blackcap feeding on berries 

a cheeky Chiffchaff playing hide and seek with us

Radipole Lake Reserve was next, we parked at the tennis courts along Radipole Lake Lane and sat at a picnic bench to eat our picnic lunch. We then scanned the large lake adding Gadwall, Shoveler, Common Coot and Mute Swan to the day list.

We made a brief visit to the visitor’s centre at Radipole too, from the small wooden bridge we added both Little and Great Crested Grebes and we missed a second Kingfisher sighting as well as a party of six Bearded Tits,  timing is of the essence and ours was well off today. A distant Sparrowhawk was our last sighting of a new bird but we did see Migrant Hawker and Common Dater Dragonflies as well as a Clouded Yellow Butterfly.

Radipole Lake from the wooden bridge

Migrant Hawker Dragonfly

Great Crested Grebe not looking so good in its winter outfit?

At Ferrybridge the tide was way out, the waders and gulls were very distant from the visitor’s centre. We saw Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sandwich Tern with the smaller gulls and we added Great BB Gull to the list.

We spent a little time visiting the Verne Prison (the outside) because one of Peter and Dinah’s wanted birds was Little Owl. I knew of a Little Owl site in the wall of the prison situated in the dry moat. We saw plenty of Jackdaws but not the Owl until local birder Charlie came along and found one for us. Peter photographed another clouded Yellow Butterfly before we left.

The mudflats at Ferrybridge, the tide was very low during our two visits there

Our second visit to Ferrybridge was to try to find the Little Stint that had been reported in recent days, we parked at Billy Winters Café and walked across the road to scan the mudflats from a much closer  place than during our earlier visit. We added Turnstone and Ringed Plover to our list but the Stint was not present.

the best I could do with the Littlw Owl at the Verne Prison walls

It was now 4:30pm so we decided to call it day, I drove them back to the Hotel and then drove back to Stoford after collecting three bunches of flowers and a couple of cards for Dawn, it was her birthday today and our wedding anniversary. We decided to stay in and ordered an Indian Curry from our favourite local restaurant.