SEA-WATCHING AT CHESIL COVE - PORTLAND HARBOUR - FERRYBRIDGE
WEATHER; a strong south-westerly wind, light showers. Temp 10C
Noting that the weather forecast predicted 40 mph south-westerly winds Guy Campbell called me and asked if I would like to join him for a sea-wacth down at Chesil Cove. I jumped at the chance becuase it was highly possible that we would see a LEACH'S PETREL which, beleive or not, is a bird I have never seen!!
We arrived at the sea-watching look-out point in Chesilm Cove which was crowded with the local Portland guys and guess what? We had missed a LEACH'S PETREL by 30 minutes or so!! Doh! Guy had been late picking me up but only by 5 minutes so I couldn't blame him for missing my bird, so I just kicked the nearest wall, ouch!!
sheltered by an ancient wall - the Portland Sea-watch looking out to Chesil Cove
We set up our scopes and joined the eagle-eyed locals staring out into Lyme Bay. Chesil Cove is an entrapment area for any birds blown into Lyme Bay, they have to fly through the cove to get back out sea along Portland's Western Coastline.
It was very quiet out there, a trickle of Kittiwakes, some Mediterranean Gulls and not much else. After about an hour we were getting restless and Guy asked me to just shout, when I had had enough. But then it picked up, Kittiwake numbers passing through picked up dramatically and people started to find Little Gulls amongst them.
some Kittwakes on the water and in flight
We both got sightings of Little Gulls and we both missed an Arctic Skua, then the first of several LEACH'S PETREL was called out!! Wow! Just a minute, Guy got onto it straight away and I couldn't find it, Doh! So I had to look through Guy's scope and got my LIFER, whoopeeeee!!
can you see a bird in this picture? It is a Leach's Petrel, ha! This is the best of several really bad digi-scope pictures I took today.
Back at my own scope I found the bird and then over the next hour I saw at least five more and one or two of them we quite close to the shoreline. Fantastic, I saw thw wing markings, the white rump and the forked-tail on one of them.
Around midday it started to rain and the sky went very dark, visibility was greatly reduced, so we decided to finish our vigil having acheived our goal, the bird was well and truly in the bag!
juvenile Kittiwake in the foreground
After eating our lunch in the shelter of the car we drove onto Portland to visit a residential area where a COMMON ROSEFINCH had been seen yesterday! We found the right garden and saw lots of Sparrows and Starlings but there was no sign of the Finch. As you may well know, the Rosefinch is another of my bogey birds, I missed one on Scilly at least eight times this year!!
The sky cleared and rain ceased so we drove back down to Chesil Cove to give sea-watching another go, but everyone had left, the sea was very quiet, so we stayed for only 10 minutes. Guy had spotted a couple of Ospreys, he called them out I turned around with great enthusiasm only to see two Osprey Helicopters!! He is a dipstick sometimes, I won't mention him falling over as we climbed the stairs to the Chesil Cove sea-watch look-out point.
We had to drive to the heliport so Dipstick could get his Chopper-fix, (helicopter-fix), I walked across to Portland Castle and scanned the Harbour seeing a few Cormortants, Shags and Black-headed Gulls.
Guiy's Osprey find - a vertcial take-off and landing aircraft, an American airforce plane
A qucik stop at Ferrybridge found us huddled behind the visitor's centre sheltering from the ferocious wind. We scanned the mudflats and listed the usual Waders: Bar-tailed Godwits (5), Dunlin, Ringed Plover and lots of Oystercatchers. Also present was dozens of Med Gulls, a few Brent Geese, several Red-breasted Mergansers and to our great delight a Great Northern Diver.
Great Northern Diver
Before we set off for home we drove across to the eastern side of Weymouth to look for a WAXWING that had been frequenting some berry-laden trees on a housing estate. We found the correct place but the bird was not there, to be fair it was still extremely windy and no-one else had reported a sighting of it today.
a couple of Mergansers with a Brent Goose in the background
We left around 3pm, Guy drove me home arriving just before 4pm, it was getting dark and it had obviously been raining hard in Stoford judging at the size of the pools of water in the lane!