Archive for the ‘Dorset’ Category

Lyme Regis

Posted: February 15, 2019 in Dorset, UK
Tags: ,

This post is originally from the summer of 2014 and our first visit to Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a quiet coastal town and harbour in Dorset on the south coast of the UK.

DSCN1970

DSCN1969

Lyme Regis - June 2005 - Ammonite Street Lights at Dusk
Street lights in Lyme Regis
Photo by Gareth Williams (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/)

It’s fame springs from the fact that it provides one of the most accessible beaches along the Jurassic coast and has been a magnet for fossil hunters for at least 150 years.

DSCN1967

When Sue and I were in Dorset we paid a visit and went out on an organised fossil hunt. The leader explained what to look for and then took us to a place on the beach where there were likely to be fossils.

DSCN1957

The rest was down to us.

DSCN1959

DSCN1963

Some ammonites we found on Lyme Regis beach

Naturelog 18 January

Posted: February 1, 2019 in Birds, Dorset, Natural History, UK
Tags:

Although the weather forecast promised heavy rain and strong winds, the morning dawned clear and bright and so sue and I set off for the RSPB reserve at Arne. This reserve is situated on a peninsula in Poole Harbour.

Corfe Castle from Coombe Heath

Walking out on Coombe Heath we had a brief view of a Dartford Warbler as it flitted across the path. Reaching the first viewpoint, we had a sighting of a Eurasian Spoonbill as it flew into the reed-bed.

Middlebere Channel

In the Middlebere channel there were around 100 PiedAvocets; 50 Brent Geese; 20 Grey Plovers and 30 Black-Tailed Godwits plusCommon Shelduck and Eurasian Wigeon. A number of Little Egrets were seen flyingaround the channel.

Middlebere Channel

After lunch, the promised weather seemed to be moving in and so we headed back to Weymouth.

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Dartford Warbler [sp] (Sylvia undata)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Portland Harbour from Sandsfoot Castle

A lovely sunny winters day and I started out at SandsfootCastle looking for Divers. As on Tuesday, there were Great Crested Grebe andBlack-necked Grebe but no divers.

I then walked the Rodwell Trail (the route of the oldWeymouth-Portland Railway line) and added some common birds such as Wren andGreenfinch.

Sandsfoot Castle from the Rodwell trail

At Ferrybridge, a large group of Red-Breasted Mergansers and Black-headed Gulls had obviously located a shoal of fish and were feeding frantically. On the high tide roost there was a party of 30 Brent Geese, whilst on the Fleet, there were only some gulls and a small party of Red-Breasted Mergansers.

The Fleet at Ferrybridge

After meeting Sue for Lunch at the excellent Chesil Beach Cafe, we went to Radipole RSPB reserve to have another look at the Ring-necked Duck and see if I could get some photos, but alas it was asleep tucked into a bank of reeds. However, whilst we were standing there watching it a Yellow-Browed Warbler flew into the reeds in front of us and flitted from reed to tree and back again, calling repeatedly, in the frantic way that seems characteristic of this species.

Yellow-Browed Warbler
Photo by Dave Curtis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/)

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Osmington White Horse

Posted: January 30, 2019 in Dorset, History, UK
Tags:

The Osmington White Horse is a figure cut into a limestone hill just north of Weymouth. It dates from 1808 and is of George III riding a horse and celebrates the monarch who was a regular visitor to the town and referred to it as ‘ his first resort’.

The figure was restored in 1989 as part of a TV programme although the restoration subsequently drew much criticism for changes made to the figure and in 2011 pranksters added a horn to the horse making it appear as a unicorn. Subsequently, another restoration was performed in early 2012 as part of the town’s preparations for the Olympics (Weymouth was the venue for the sailing events) which returned it to its original likeness.

Naturelog: 16 January

Posted: January 29, 2019 in Birds, Dorset, Natural History, UK
Tags:

A dull, overcast and wet day which didn’t bode well for birdwatching so Sue and I set out in the car. Our first stop was at Portesham village, a known area for Western Cattle Egret. As we drove along we saw some white birds in a field. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop until some distance later when we pulled into the entrance of the Sewage Works and was able to look back with the telescope and confirm that they were Cattle Egrets.

Cattle Egret
Photo by Doug Greenberg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dagberg/)

Our next stop was Lyme Regis Harbour and our target birds Black Redstart and Purple Sandpiper. As we walked along the harbour wall we saw 3 Rock Pipits and a few Ruddy Turnstones but there were no roosting Purple Sandpipers. I scanned the sea out from the harbour and was surprised to find a Red-Necked Grebe, a number of which winter on this part of the coast.

Lyme Regis
Rock Pipit
Photo by Steve Herring (https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_herring/)
Red-Necked Grebe
Photo by Dave Inman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/79254232@N08/)

The rain was now coming down hard and so we retreated for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards, with the wet weather not abating, we decided to call it day and head back to our cottage in Weymouth.

Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps grisegena)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)

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

DSCN1295a

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.

DSCN1299a

 

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.

DSCN1301a

Trees of Arne

Posted: October 15, 2018 in Announcements, Dorset, Landscape, Natural History, UK
Tags:

During my trip to the RSPB reserve at Arne last month I spent the morning in the woodland to avoid the showers which gave me the opportunity to look at and photograph some of the wonderful old trees there.

It was pouring with rain as I left London, on a RSPB group outing, for the 120-mile journey to Dorset and the RSPB reserve at Arne. Arne is situated on a peninsula which stands out into Poole Harbour, the largest natural harbour in the UK. It has a wondrous array of different habitats ranging from woodland to wetlands and heathland.

Saltmarsh (top), heathland (bottom left), farmland (bottom centre) and woodland (bottom right)

It continued to rain heavily as we passed through the new forest and it was not until we reached Bournemouth that there was a break in the rain, much to the relief of all – birdwatching in heavy rain is not much fun! Arriving at Arne, there was still rain in the air and so I opted for the northern part of the reserve, which contains the woodland and a hide overlooking one of the channels of the harbour. The woodland was quiet although there was a marked passage of Barn Swallows migrating south. At the hide overlooking the saltmarsh, there were 30 Spoonbills. This once rare bird from the Mediterranean area is now established in Dorset and Norfolk, another sign of our changing climate and birdlife.

There were also Oystercatchers, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank and Little Egrets feeding on the marsh.

Eurasian Curlew and Little Egret

Towards lunchtime I made my way back to the visitor’s centre and after lunch ventured south onto the heathland. By now the weather had changed completely and the rain had been replaced by bright sunshine. Heathland is not the most productive of bird habitats but it does provide a home to some special birds and one of these was my target for the afternoon. The Dartford Warbler is limited to heathland habitat. As one of our few resident warbler species, it has been severely hit in past years by hard winters and loss of habitat. Thankfully it does seem to be recovering and in some places like Arne flourishing – 70 pairs bred on the reserve this year. Even in this abundance, they remain a skulking bird and so finding one was not a guaranteed thing.

33757489275_446f866c31_z (1)

Dartford Warbler (adult male). Photo by Dave Curtis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/)

As I made my way across the heath, I came across Helen, another of our party who had caught a brief glimpse of a bird in gorse and so we waited. Eventually, we were joined by one of the volunteer wardens and as the three of us waited we saw a small bird pop into a tree. But what was it, it was grey, darker above than below – certainly not the colours of a Dartford warbler. But then it came into clear view and it certainly looked like a Dartford, with its long tail cocked at an angle. It was one of this year’s young – I had never seen a juvenile before. Then there were other birds with it and eventually, 4 flew across to a nearby tree. at least one had the rich colours of a male and so we concluded we had a family group. We watched as they moved from bush to tree and back to gorse.

There was time left for a quick check over the Middlebere channel, but apart from a Shelduck and a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen. Then it was time to make my way back to the Visitor centre for a drink before we embarked on the journey back to London.

An excellent day, especially considering the weather on the way down, with Spoonbill and Dartford Warblers, the highlight of the day.

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
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)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Dartford Warbler [sp] (Sylvia undata)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

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.

DSCN8786-39

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.

spb4500630543_dca9828884_z

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)