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WEATHER; overcast clouds and some sunshine, a light north-westerly made it feel cold. Top temp 8C

Dawn and I went for a late morning walk along one of our favourite trails - The Rodwell Trail which starts in the centre of Weymouth and takes you along the northern shore of Portland Harbour to Ferrybridge. It was overcast and it felt quite cold so we wrapped up warm. 

Sandsfoot Castle with Portland Harbour and Portland behind it.

We had a lunch booked for 2pm in Chickerell and as we had arrived at 11am it didn't leave us too much time to dwell on the trail. So we cut the walking down by parking the car near the start of the trail missing out the tracks through Radipole Lake and Weymouth Marina.

a view looking eastward towards Weymouth from Sandsfoot Castle

I only took my bins with me, no scope, as this was not a birding trip! Consequently, I saw very little, a few Oystercatchers, Med Gulls, Red-breatsed Meregansers, Cormorants, Shags and lots of common garden birds along the hedgerows. We turned around near Small Mouth and headed back. At Sandsfoot Castle, Dawn bought us a hot chocolate whilst I had a quick scan into the harbour. I picked out 3 Black-necked Grebes, a few Great Crested Grebes but not much else at all.

We ended the walk at 1:40 covering over 10,000 steps and headed to the Turks Head Pub in Chickerell for a buffet Sunday Roast (highly reccomended). After a fabulous lunch I convinced Dawn that we needed to walk it off, so at 3pm we parked at the top of Pirates Lane, East Fleet and walked down to Pirates Cove, it was a very short distance from the Turk's Head.

a view of Pirates Cove in the foreground, East Fleet and then Portland in the background

It was getting cold and it was a muddy, Dawn turned back at the bottom of the hill and headed to the car. I carried on because a RICHARD'S PIPIT had been seen in a horse paddock close by, when I got to the spot another birder told me that I had missed the Pipit by 15 minutes. I waited around until 4pm before trudging off up the hill to the car.

Hey, ho, you can't win them all, we drove home and got back by 5:30pm.

Monday 30th January

WEATHER; a bright morning with plenty of blue sky, very light north-westerly wind, again making it feel cold. Temp 9C

Guy Campbell picked me up at 8am and we set off for my second attempt to see the RICHARD'S PIPIT at the East Fleet near Wyke Regis. We parked in Camp Road and walked to the horse paddock just 50 meters from the car. Scanning the field we saw Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Ravens, Rooks, Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws, Wood Pigeons, Robins and Blackbirds but not THE Pipit.

a Raven in the horse paddock

So, we walked down the hill and stood in the place from where I missed the Pipit yesterday! Guess what? we couldn't find the Pipit. After about fifteen minutes the bird appeared, but it was a very long way off, in fact it was feeding in the grass at the furthest point it could have been from us!!

a very distant record shot of the Richard's Pipit

So we decided to move from our current position back to where had started. We were standing in a Dog Walker's field with poop all over the place. My dipstick buddy had stood his tripod in a great big dollop of dog muck, and as he retracted his tripod legs he got most it on his hand, yyyyyyuuuccck! Don't come near me you smelly birder!

At the top of the hill near the car we got much better views but I couldn't manage to get very good pictures, then we lost the bird below the slope of the hill.

closer views of the Pipit, its back, above and a partial profile below

We only had a morning pass out so we quickly decided to scan the harbour from Sandsfoot Castle because Guy still needed Black-throated Diver for his year list. We had a short, but productive stay at the Castle, finding, three Common Eider Ducks, three Common Scoter Ducks, two Slavonian Grebes, several Great Crested Grebes, Red-breatsed Mergansers, Cormorants and Shags but no Divers.

a male Eider with two females

Red-breasted Mergansers with the Eiders

A WhatsApp message informed us that a couple of Black Redstarts were in Newton's Cove just a short distance from us, so we headed off there. We saw a stunning male Black Redstart on the Cove Wall before we even got out of the car. It showed extremely well, what a beauty. 

the male Black Redstart seen at Newton's Cove

Finally, before we left we popped into Radipole visitors centre for a hot drink and to have quick look for Bearded Tits. We were inside the centre drinking our hot chocolate when a Bearded Tit flew across the lagoon and landed not too far away in the reeds. The bird then, for some reason unkown to mankind, flew up and headed straight towards us. It flew straight into the large plate glass window with a loud thud and it fell into the water below.

Fortunately, the bird wasn't killed it flapped its wings as it tried to swim, it disappeared from sight underneath the building! I still ticked it for my year list!! Five minutes later we saw a second bird fly across the pool and land in the distant reeds. Other birds on show were Common Snipe, lots of Teal, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Shoveler and a few species of gulls.

On the way home we saw a Marsh Harrier at the northern end of Radipole and Guy spotted a Red Kite as we drove acroos the hills north of Dorchester, a nice bird to finish our morning off with! 

My year list was increased by two today: Richard's Pipit and Bearded Tit. 162.