Archive for the ‘Dorset’ Category

On the way to Ferrybridge for coffee this morning a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew over the harbour at Weymouth. On the rising tide, a flock of 25 Ringed Plovers together with 3 Ruddy Turnstone and a single Dunlin were feeding on the mudflats. There were only 6 Brent Geese today and a scan through the gulls revealed 4 species but no Mediterranean Gull. There was still a good number of Red-breasted Merganser present. Two Rooks were rather a surprise visitor and a Eurasian Skylark was heard singing.

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Ringed Plover

On the way back to our cottage we dropped in at Lodmoor where we flushed a Kingfisher as we approached the viewpoint. Once again there were good numbers of Common Snipe along with Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwits. A single Mediterranean Gull was present with the other Gulls.

Common Snipe

House Sparrow (top left), Dunnock (bottom left) and Northern Lapwing (right)

Late afternoon we heard that a Eurasian Spoonbill had been seen arriving at Lodmoor so we re-visited the viewpoint and after a few minutes the bird was seen flying from the reed-bed into a ditch out of view. Shortly afterwards it took flight and was seen flying away towards Weymouth.

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Spoonbill. Photo by Joe Pell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pellyutd/)

 

Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A visit to Ferrybridge today. It was reasonably quiet bird-wise but it was a lovely day and very pleasant as I walked along the Fleet.

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The best sighting was 30 Red-breasted Merganser present at various places along the Fleet. Today only 3 Mediterranean Gulls could be seen with the Black-headed Gulls but the only waders present were 3 Oystercatchers.

Oystercatcher (top left), Herring Gull (top right) and Red-breasted Mergansers (bottom)

Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Today some birding mixed with a trip to Poole. Our first stop was at Hamworthy beach on the north of Poole Harbour. A group of Red-breasted Merganser were present and eventually, a distant Black-throated was located out towards the main harbour.

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Black-throated Diver. Photo by Tony Morris (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonymorris/)

Our second stop was at Poole Park, where a good number of Goldeneye were on the lake together with good numbers of common waterfowl. 7 Little Grebe was a notable number.

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Poole Park

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Common Goldeneye (m)

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Black-throated Loon [sp] (Gavia arctica)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)

Started the morning at Hamm beach on Portland Harbour, where the conditions were arctic with a strong wind blowing in from the bay. A single Red-breasted Merganser was present along with 14 Ruddy Turnstone and a Meadow Pipit, but no sign of the divers or Grebes that had been frequenting the harbour.

Ruddy Turnstone

A Common Kestrel was actively hunting along the vegetation at the edge of the water and allowed me to come quite close

Walking along the Fleet, an inlet from the harbour, a Male Eurasian Stonechat was active in the vegetation.

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The Fleet at Ferrybridge

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Eurasian Stonechat (m)

A small flock of Brent Geese were by the visitor centre and 40 Mediterranean Gulls were on the high tide gull roost along with Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. Had a distant view of a Black-necked Gull along with a Little Grebe, which gave a good comparator. Also present were 14 Red-breasted Merganser.

                   Meditteranean Gulls with Black-headed Gulls (top), Brent Geese (middle)                         and Red-breasted Merganser (bottom)

In the afternoon I visited RSPB Radipole Lake where along with a good variety of water-birds the highlights were a Water Rail, a Bearded Reedling and 2 Western Marsh Harriers.

Shelduck (top), Great Cormorant (bottom left), Herring and Black-headed Gulls (bottom centre) and Northern Shoveler (bottom right)

Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)

Common Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

The weather this morning could not have been more different to yesterday. Crisp and clear and with the sun shining. I decide to take a walk around RSPB Lodmoor, the local nature reserve. But first a stop at the Oasis Cafe at Overcombe on Weymouth Bay, where a Red-Necked Grebe had been seen the previous evening. But sadly, it is not to be seen this morning. The marshes at Lodmoor are separated from Weymouth Bay by the coast road and the first thing that strikes me is a large number of Common Snipe that can be seen sunning themselves in open view (By the time I had completed the walk I must have seen over 20 of this normally secretive wader).

Other species present include a number of ducks together with a group of Canada Geese and a single Brent Goose. There were 2 Black-tailed Godwits and a group of around 20 Dunlin. On the north side of the reserve, I got a quick view of 2 Bearded Reedlings, but there was no sign of the Greater Scaup which has been wintering on the pools here.

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Canada Geese with Brent Goose (on right)

Robin (left), Teal (top right) and Black-tailed Godwit (bottom right)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Great Snipe (Gallinago media)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Portland Landscape (3)

Posted: May 30, 2016 in Dorset, Landscape, UK
Tags:

I love the rugged terrain and coastline of Portland but also the fact that wherever you go you cannot get away from evidence of the extraction of Portland Stone.

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Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle was built in Wyke Regis on the north side of Portland Harbour by order of Henry VIII, fearful of attacks by Spanish and French forces. It was built at the same time as Portland Castle on the southern point of the bay and was completed in 1539. It is said that much of the stone for the castle came from the dissolved abbey at Blandon near Wool.

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle

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During the English civil war it was held by the Royalists until 1644, when following a siege it was captured by the Parliamentarians, who used it as a storehouse. It continued in this role until around 1691, when coastal erosion was threatening to undermine the cliff on which the castle stands. This was addressed by the building of the Portland breakwater in 1849, but by this time the castle was in a dangerous state and had been abandoned.

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It was purchased by Weymouth Council in 1902 for the sum of £150 and Tudor gardens were laid out on the adjoining land and a public park created. It was not until 2009-2010 that in a joint project with a local community trust that funds became available to carry out the works needed to allow public access to the castle buildings.

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Sparrowhawk

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Birds, Dorset, Natural History, UK
Tags: ,

 

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The Sparrowhawk is probably now the commonest bird of prey in the UK replacing the Kestrel which seems to have declined significantly over the past decade. Even so it is most often seen in flight, often soaring to a great height. so, it was really pleasing on the recent trip to Dorset to get a chance to photograph a bird perched on  a deserted building on Portland.

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Some more photos of the wonderful landscape of Portland in Dorset

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Looking south towards the Bill with the Old and New lighthouses

Looking south towards the Bill with the Old and New lighthouses

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Portland in Dorset is not an island but an isthmus, as it remains connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land. It is 4.5 miles long and 1.7 miles wide and rises to 400 ft above sea level at the northern end.

Chesil beach which connects Portland to the mainland

Chesil Beach which connects Portland to the mainland

It is a large piece of limestone  of exceptional quality and is much in demand as building stone. Portland stone was used By Sir Christopher Wren for the rebuilding of London, including St Paul’s Cathedral and around 50 other churches, following the Great Fire in 1666. It was also used for the Cenotaph in Whitehall; War grave headstones in France and Belgium and the UN building in New York.

Portland coast

Portland coast

 

Loading Station - Portland stone loaded directly into barges below for transportation

Loading Station – Portland stone loaded directly into barges below for transportation

It has a strong military connection dating from 1539 when Henry VIII built a castle on Portland (together with Sandersfoot castle at Wyke Regis on the opposite side of Portland bay) to defend the bay from the French and Spanish. In 1872 the newly enclosed Portland harbour became a naval base, which it remained until recent years when facilities were transferred to other ports.

Portland castle (from Sandersfoot Castle)

Portland castle (from Sandersfoot Castle)

 

Prrtland Harbour

Portland Harbour

 

More recently the bay has been developed as watersports venue and was the location of the 2012 Olympics sailing competitions.

Olympic Rings on Portland heights commemorating the 2012 Olympics venue

Olympic Rings on Portland heights commemorating the 2012 Olympics venue