VERNE COMMON – BIRD OBSERVATORY – PORTLAND BILL – SOUTHILL – VERNE COMMON – FERRYBROIDGE
WEATHER: cloudy and windy for most of the day, sunny spells later.
My birding pal Guy picked me up this morning and we drove down to Portland, arriving on the northern tip of the ‘island’ around 9am. Our intention was to look for Ring Ouzels on Verne Common, at least 3 had been seen frequently over the last few days.
We parked near the entrance to Verne Prison and walked up the steep slope of the common to the pathway along the dry moat. It was very windy up there and not many birds were on show, lots Jackdaws, a few Rooks, Crows, Magpies and a pair of Ravens were seen playing on the air currents above us.
A view from Verne Common of Portland Harbour, Ferrybridge and the Fleet, Chesil Bank and Lyme Bay
The scrub area on the common was devoid of bird life we saw very little activity. After watching a pair of Peregrine Falcons demonstrating their superb flying abilities we walked back down to the car.
We hoped to return to the Common later in the day when the forecast was for sunshine and less windier conditions. Our next stop was at the bird Observatory where we made a brief stop to see if any ringing was taking place, in recent days they had trapped and ringed both a Radde’s Warbler and a Pallas’s Warbler, but nothing was caught today so far.
It was windy at the Bill with waves crashing against the rocks
News of a sighting of a Leach’s Petrel seen in Chesil Cove prompted us to drive quickly down to Portland Bill area as the Petrel was heading in that direction. We spent an hour sea-watching, there was a huge feeding flock just off-shore, mainly gulls and Gannets, but we also saw Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, Cormorants and Shags and a Grey Seal. There was no sign of any petrels, shearwaters, skuas or scoters. We did see an unusual sight, a flock of Starlings flying low over the water heading west?
Gannets and Gulls
the light was bad looking at the feeding flock off the Bill
Back at the Observatory we walked down to the Quarry where a long-staying Wryneck happened to be showing well, we had brief views of it in a bramble hedgerow before it flew back into the quarry after I inadvertenly flushed it! Doh! Guy quickly relocated the bird and we had excellent views of it in the quarry.
the Quarry Wryneck has been about for nearly two weeks now
After a quick cuppa back at the Obs. We drove into the middle of Portland near Southwell and searched a couple of areas for Yellow-browed & Pallas’s Warblers, we saw neither, but at one site we heard and located a Firecrest.
It was 3pm when we returned to Verne Common, the sun was shining but it was still a bit windy. We walked up and along the Common and had very brief flight views of a Ring Ouzel, we both heard it call so we were sure of its identification. We never saw one perched. We did find Stonechats, Kestrels, Ravens, Goldfinches, Song Thrush and Blackbirds.
looking back to Portland from the car park at Ferrybridge, you can see the cave-like entrance to Verne Prison next to the green Verne Common, above Fortuneswell.
We stopped at Ferrybridge on the way back home. Scanning the mudflats we noted dozens of Dunlin & Ringed Plover, four Bar-tailed Godwits, a bunch of Turnstonmes, a single Sanderling and quite a few Oystercatchers. Hundreds of Med Gulls sat on the water's edge and at least 4 Red-breasted Mergansers bobbed about on the fleet.
We arrived home around 5pm, it had been a good day out despite not seeing any of our target species, Guy wasn't too bothered as he had been on Portland when the Radde's Warbler was trapped and ringed, and he saw the Pallas's Warbler in the Obs Garden which he mentioned at least 20 times during the day......if he wasn't doing the driving he may have been found strangled in one of the remote quarries this afternnon!!