VERNE PRISON and OBS QUARRY, PORTLAND - CHESIL COVE - PORTLAND HARBOUR FROM POTLAND CASTLE AND BINCLEAVES ROAD
WEATHER; rain to start then some sunshine with light showers, very cold north-westerly wind. Temp 6C
Our last morning was spent trying to mop up a few species missing from our list, Little Owl was one of them. So, we drove onto Portland to visit two sites where the is often seen, along the way we stooped off near Chesilm Cove to try to relocate the Black Redstart that Lorna and Mike had missed yesterday. Unfortunately the bird was not there.
At the northern tip of Portland sits the Vene Prison, built on the highest point it is surround by cliffs and a dry moat. Historically the prison was the Verne Citadel built in the 19th Centuary to defend Portland Harbour. The crumbling walls of the dry moat provide homes for both Little and Barn Owls. We searched for the former and found none!! We did see Ravens, Common Kestrel, lots of Jackdaws, a few Stock Doves and on the way back to the bus I saw a Song Thrush, wow! my first of the year.
Next, we tried the quarry near Portland Bird Observatory, no owls were in sight, I can't blame them, it was raining and the wind chill dropped the termperature down to almost zero.
Along Portland Bill Road we saw Oystercatchers, another Raven, many Great BB Gulls with Herring Gulls roosting in a meadow. We tried once again to see the Black Redstart at Chesil but only found Pied Wagtail. We eard that the Grey Phalarope was still present.
At Portland Castle (built by Henry VIII) we scanned the Harbour for Grebes and Divers, finding only Red-breasted Mergansers, Shags, Cormorants, a Razorbill, Grey Heron and our first Kingfisher of the trip. A quick stop at Ferrybridge produced sightings of Dunlin, Med Gulls, Brent Geese and Common Ringed Plovers, we only stopped for the toilets and quickly moved on into Weymouth.
Razorbill in Portland Harbour
From Bincleaves Road we took a track that runs along the northern shore of Portland Harbour, it was sheltered from the wind and the bright sunshine actually felt warm!! We scanned the harbour and found Eider Duck, lots Great Crested Grebes, Red-breatsed Mergansers and finally we found the very elusive RED-NECKED GREBE. It was distant but with good light we had reasonable views of it. Later it was joined by a Black-necked Grebe. Well, that made my day and ended the trip on a high note. It was 11am and time to leave Dorset and return to Yeovil to conclude the trip.
Ferrybridge as the rain cleared and sunshine appeared
Forty minutes later we parted company, everyone said that despite the terrible weather, they had enjoyed the trip, phew!!!
record shot of the fifth and final Grebe of the Tour - Red-necked Grebe
The Tour list count ended at 128 which was 2 short of last year's total. Nevertheless, we had a great time looking for them despite the inclement weather conditions.