This 4-day tour, based in Weymouth, concentrates heavily on wintering hot-spot locations of many birds in this beautiful south coast county. Birds we shall look for include several rare species as well as regular migrants. On Portland regular wintering species include: Firecrest, Black Redstart, Purple Sandpiper, Short-eared Owl. Whilst at Ferrybridge, Portland Harbour and the fleet we can look for Grebes and Divers, Red-breasted Merganser and perhaps an unusual Gull, Tern or Wader. During the 2024 Tour we saw all five Grebe Species and all three Divers: i.e. Great-creste, Little, Slavonian, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Great Northern, Black-throated and Red-throated Divers. We saw over 100 species and the combined total with the Somerset Mini-Tour was 128 species.
Purple Sandpipers are regular winter residents on Portland
For two years (2022/23) Cirl Buntings have bred on Portland and have 'invaded' areas along the coastline west of Portland. We saw a pair on Portland in 2023 and along the fleet during our 2024 Tour. Fingers crossed that they stay for good!
Other species in the area during our Tour included a Ring-necked Duck at Radipole Lake, Avcoet and Ruff at Lodmmoor. The 'Fleet' ( a series of brackish pools sheltered from Lyme Bay by Chesil Bank, stretches from Ferrybridge all the way to Abbotsbury Swannery) usually houses Greater Scaup, sometimes Long-tailed Duck and plenty of Brent Geese which often have Pale-bellied Geese in the flock with them. In January 2024 there was at least 4 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers and three Long-tailed Ducks. Cattle Egrets have made a massive invasion of Southern England in recent times, there have been recent flocks in the Weymouth area we saw only four in January 2024.
Add to that the prized birds that we can look for at Arne and the Wareham Forest. The heathland at both of these beautiful birding sites holds Dartford Warbler, Common Stonechat and Woodlark, and both have the prospect of hosting a wintering Great Grey Shrike and Hen Harriers, whilst Merlins can often be seen.
Short-eared Owl taken on Portland
Wareham Forest is an excellent site for finding Yellowhammer, Woodlark, Goldcrest, Common Crossbill, Woodpeckers, Siskin, Redpoll, Mistle Thrush and a host of common woodland species. Whilst Arne has the added prospect of seeing Pied Avocet, Godwits, Eurasian Spoonbill, Grebes and Divers as we scan Poole Harbour from various locations around Arne and Studland Bay.
We meet up around noon at our superb Guest House which is just a minute's walk from Weymouth's Sea-front. For the afternoon will shall spend time at Radipole Lake looking for Bearded Tit, Cetti's Warbler and many species of gulls and ducks. Recently (autumn 2018) the pre-roost gathering of gulls has attracted Franklin's Gull, Ring-billed Gull amongst hundreds of Mediterranean Gulls.
We shall visit all the sites named above and a few more thrown in, our itinerary for days 2 - 4 depends entirely on the weather, bird movements and the discretion of the guide. Rest assured you will have a fantastic time visiting Portland, Ferrybridge and the Fleet, RSPB Arne, Wareham Forest (and heathland) and Lodmoor Nature Reserve.
Franklin's Gull with Mediterranean Gull at Radipole Lake Autumn 2018
A morning’s birding at one of the local reserves if time permits, transport to Weymouth Train station
Check for availability - click the link below and then scroll down to the Dorset Tour - "Remaining Places" are shown beneath the banner of each tour and are updated monthly http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/tours
The combined trip of the Somerset Levels and Southern Dorset worked very well, we logged 140 species noting all five species of Grebes and all three Divers. Great, Little and Cattle Egrets are now easy sightings in Somserset with Spoonbi...View Report