Posts Tagged ‘Weymouth’

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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The modern town of Weymouth was once actually two competing ports, Weymouth on the south side and Melcombe Regis on the north. The competition became fierce as the two battled for trade. In 1571 Queen Elizabeth I intervened and united them into a single town with a single port authority

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The port prospered and in the 1880s the railway line was extended to carry trains right along the quay to the waiting cargo vessels. Much of this trade was with the Channel Islands and in the last century the harbourside was busy with imported tomatoes, flowers and vegetables. The line also carried passenger traffic which delivered passengers for the channel islands ferry directly to the ship berth. The Goods service ceased in the 1970s and the last passenger service was in 1987, although it was used up till 1999 for special charters. The lines can still be seen running through the streets of the town to the docks.

Train tracks in Weymouth Street (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Nigel Mykura)

Train tracks in Weymouth Street (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Attribution: Nigel Mykura)

 

Weymouth Boat train (y Ben Salter (weymouth boat train #1 Uploaded by Oxyman) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Weymouth Boat train (y Ben Salter [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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In 1921 a dam across the river was built to ensure the water level in the harbour – this replaced an earlier dam which was finally removed in 1995 when the harbour was dredged to improve access.

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The Harbour today is a mixture of small pleasure craft; working fishing boats; luxury cruisers and tourist boats. Until last year it remained a port for the Channel Islands ferry service, but this has now relocated to Poole Harbour.

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Our final day in Dorset and the heavy rain forecast has not materialised and so we set off for the RSPB reserve at Lodmoor on the eastern edge of Weymouth to see if we can add a few new species.

 

RSPB Lodmoor

RSPB Lodmoor

 

Unfortunately it seems very quiet, possibly due to the strong north winds which have been blowing down the Lothan Valley for most of the week. We do locate a single drake Northern Shoveller , but otherwise there is little else to see until we are just about to leave the reserve when a Lesser Whitethroat called from deep within a bush, Despite our best efforts this bird remained unseen as this skulking species often does.

 

Beach and Rocks below Nothe Castle

Beach and Rocks below Nothe Fort

Our final stop is Nothe Fort, built to defend Weymouth Harbour. The rocks and small beach below the castle are a good site for Ruddy Turnstone and sure enough 6 birds are busy feeding  together with a Rock Pipit.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Then it is time to collect our bags and head for the station to return to London. A good trip – 106 species between us which is similar to our trip here in May last year.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
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)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Having visited the southern end of Portland on Tuesday, we decided to explore the northern end of the isthmus for migrants this morning. Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and 2 Spotted Flycatchers were present coupled with some spectacular views back across Portland harbour.

Verne Common

Verne Common

 

View from ascent to Verne Common back towards the mainland

View from ascent to Verne Common back towards the mainland

Our next stop was in Southwell where Pied Flycatcher had been seen earlier in the morning. Again there was plenty of migrant activity with Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher present. After a 30 minute search we decided to move on and as we walked back to the bus stop, I saw a bird ‘flycatching’ from a tree and a closer look identified it as a female Pied Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Andy Morrffew (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andymorffew/)

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Andy Morrffew (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andymorffew/)

 

female Pied Flycatcher. Photo by Daniela (https://www.flickr.com/photos/daniela_naturephotography/)

Female Pied Flycatcher. Photo by Daniela (https://www.flickr.com/photos/daniela_naturephotography/)

Our next stop was Chesil where we again found a Northern Wheatear, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Our final site of the day was back at Radipole Lake where we located the long-staying Hooded Merganser and amongst the birds feeding over the lake – Common Swift, Sand Martin and House Martin. As we made our way along a path north of the information centre we heard the ‘ping’ call of Bearded Reedling, although unfortunately the birds never showed themselves.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
European Pied Flycatcher [sp] (Ficedula hypoleuca)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

A day in the Purbeck area of Dorset with local birder, Neil Gartmore as our guide.

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Our first stop was Morden Bog, an area of Dorset heathland. Our first stop was at a small woodland where we searched for the rare and elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, alas without success, but a number of other woodland species including Greater Spotted and Green Woodpecker were recorded.

Morden Bog

Morden Bog

As we walked the heathland paths, we added Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Redstart, Common Crossbill Siskin and Redpoll although none showed well enough and/or long enough to allow photography.

Morden Bog

Morden Bog

Our second stop was Swineham Gravel pit where we saw  an obliging Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpipers alongside the common waterbirds.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit

We then visited Middlebere on one of the inlets of Poole Harbour. In front of the hide we were able o compare Common Redshank with its relative Spotted Redshank.

Middlebere

Middlebere

 

Little egret at Middlebere

Little Egret at Middlebere

The weather started to close in and so a final visit to a moor where Hen Harrier has been seen recently had to be abandoned due to the rain.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Woodlark [sp] (Lullula arborea)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Dartford Warbler [sp] (Sylvia undata)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia familiaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Redpoll [sp] (Carduelis flammea)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Red Crossbill [sp] (Loxia curvirostra)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Dunnock

Dunnock

Day 2 of our trip to Dorset and we set off for a visit to Portland, famed for its building stone. Portland is a long isthmus of land which projects south from the coast into the English Channel and which is often the first landfall for migrating birds.

Portland coastline

Portland coastline

We can hear that many Common Chiffchaffs have arrived overnight together with a few Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats.

Reaching the southern end of the isthmus, known as the bill, we are able to view the nesting colonies of birds on the cliff face – Guillimots. Razorbills and European Shag along with Fulmar and Raven.

Razorbill (foreground) and  European Shag

Razorbill (foreground) and European Shag

After lunch we return north along the coastal path and had wonderful views of a Sparrowhawk.

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

As we arrive at the narrow spit of land which connects Portland to the mainland, the weather begins to turn. Making our way through the rain we come to the Chesil reserve centre and a welcome stop at the excellent coffee shop. As we sat drinking our coffee and sheltered from the rain, we were delighted to see a Northern Wheatear and a Whimbrel just outside on the edge of the Fleet.

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

 

Whimbrel

Whimbrel

Later, once the rain had stopped we found a flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, together with a single Sanderling.

Returning to Weymouth, we made a brief stop at the reserve centre at Radipole, where a single Common sandpiper on the island was the only bird of note.

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Sanderling [sp] (Calidris alba)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Guillemot [sp] (Uria aalge)
Razorbill [sp] (Alca torda)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A few days birdwatching with Keith in Dorset. On our arrival in Weymouth we dropped our luggage off at the accommodation and headed out to the RSPB at Radipole Lake, a nature reserve won the lower reaches of the River Wey as it enters the town.

Radipole RSPB reserve

Radipole RSPB reserve

Walking along the entrance path we are greeted by a chorus of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler all in song, although they all contrive to stay out of sight in the reed-beds. A distant Marsh Harrier was seen and 3 Common Sandpipers were located on an island in the river.

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Returning back to the reserve centre a Greenshank and 2 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the mud exposed by the receding tide.

Common Pochard

Common Pochard

 

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
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 Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Day 2 of our Dorset trip sees us at Ferrybridge on the Chesil Lagoon, a body of tidal water connected to Weymouth Bay.

Chesil Lagoon at Ferrybridge

Chesil Lagoon at Ferrybridge

Our target species is Little Tern as this is one of the last remaining breeding sites for this species. We soon locate some on the opposite side of the lagoon along with Common Tern.

Little Tern at nest (Taken from TV feed)

Little Tern at nest (Taken from TV feed)

We then set off towards the end of the Lagoon and near the reserve centre we locate a couple of Whimbrel; an Oystercatcher; two Dunlin and some Meadow Pipits.

Whimbrel

Whimbrel

Next stop is Portland Bill a large rocky peninsular off land which protrudes 6 miles out from the coast at Weymouth.

Portland

Portland

Portland

Portland

Walking from the village at Southwell we find a Fratillery butterfly (possibly Marsh Fratillery) and some Wall Browns on the western side of the peninsular. Arriving at the Coast guard station we see some birds on the fence and identify Stonechat and Black Redstart. A little way further along two other birders tell us they have been watching a male Common Redstart and soon we too are enjoying cracking views of one of the most attractive of UK summer visitors.

Common Redstart (m)

Common Redstart (m)

Common Redstart
Male Common Redstart
photo by Robert Andersson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/robban_andersson/)

Moving on we search the Auks for one of the pair of Atlantic Puffin which are here (?nesting) but can only find Guillimots and Razorbills along with Kittiwake and Fulmar.

Razorbills

Razorbills

Gullimots

Gullimots

There is little movement of birds but we do see a Northern gannet out to sea. But as we retarce our steps from the point we find another Black Redstart. It may have only just flown in from crossing the English channel.

Black Redstart (f)

Black Redstart (f)

We make our way up the east of the peninsular to the Bird Observatory and stop to report our sightings and see if there is anthing in their garden. All we find are butterflies – a Red Admiral; a Holly Blue and a Speckled Wood.

We begin the walk back to Southwell. We hear a Pheasant and a Cuckoo without locating either.

In the evening we walk down to Nothe point at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour. On the rocks we find Ruddy Turnstones and a couple of Greenfinches. A small party of Sandwich Terns fly by

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Little Tern [sp] (Sternula albifrons)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Murre [sp] (Uria aalge)
Razorbill [sp] (Alca torda)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Black Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Common Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)

Keith and I are in Dorset for a few days birdwatching. Arriving from London by train early afternoon we drop our bags and make our way to Radipole Lake RSPB reserve which forms part of the Wey estuary just before it enters into Weymouth harbour. The information centre is a good place for some initial idea of what birds are to be found in the area. On the lake near the centre are a few Mallard and Tufted Duck plus some Herring Gulls and Cormorants. Swallows swoop low over the lake and a Reed Warbler flies past the observation window.

Radipole RSPB reserve

Radipole RSPB reserve

We were just about to set out around the reserve, when news comes that the Purple Heron that has been roosting at the other local RSPB reserve Lodmoor, which is on the eastern edge of Weymouth has been seen on Overcombe Pools. So a quick decision to change our plans and head for Lodmoor. Birding on the way through the reserve we add a few species before arriving at the Overcombe end of the reserve. Joining one watcher, we find that he has not seen the bird. We eventually decide to walk around the reserve to view the pools from the other side. We find another birder here but he too has not seen the bird. We wait patiently for an hour and then decide to go and get something to eat and return in time to see it come to roost that evening. It has been very consistant during the 7 or so days it has been present coming to roost in the reed-bed between 9 and 9.30pm.

Overcombe Pools Lodmoor RSPB reserve

Overcombe Pools Lodmoor RSPB reserve

At 8.30 we at back on the reserve at a point where we have a panoramic view of the reed-bed. At 9.20 a bird in seen in flight from the Overcombe end and flies right past where are standing – excellent views and no doubts it was a Purple Heron. Only a handful of these birds are seen in the UK every year so to get such good views is amazing.

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Purple Heron in flight
Photo by LIp Kee Yap (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lipkee/)

Its a 2 mile walk back to our hotel but it is with a light step at such a fantastic beginning to our trip.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Purple Heron [sp] (Ardea purpurea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
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)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

The final stage in the history of Northe Fort was during the second world war. Both Portland and Weymouth harbours were important strategic sites. Weymouth for the transport of troops to Europe, most notably the American troops to Omaha beach on D-day and Portland as a major naval base.

American troops marching through Weymouth

American troops marching through Weymouth

American troops departing Weymouth for Omaha beach

American troops departing Weymouth for Omaha beach

In addition an anti-aircraft battery was added both to the Fort and elsewhere on the point to protect the harbours and town, where there was a factory of a major manufacturer of torpedos.

Anti aircraft gun

Anti aircraft gun

The fort was decommissioned in 1956 and became a naval stores. In 1961 it was sold to the local council, but little was done other than to create a nuclear shelter in part of the underground portion of the fort.The Fort is now managed by the Weymouth Civic Society which has restored it as a museum with exhibits covering its history and of war time Weymouth. Well worth a visit if you are in the area

Detail at http://www.nothefort.org.uk/

The Northe Fort - Weymouth - Dorset.
photo by Jim Linwood (https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/)