Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Good Port of Call (13th April)

Portland with sh4rpy and Paul!  Apologies once again for the terrible puns in the title.

 the English Channel battering the limestone cliffs at Portland Bill

We set of early from Herts and arrived at the bill in overcast conditions.  Initially, our hopes were set on a day that would show some improvement in the weather but the rain (as usual) spelled our doom!  A short sea-watch produced the commoner expected species including plenty of Razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Shags and the odd Fulmar but nothing particularly outstanding.  Looking back, this was probably the most enjoyable part of the day as we weren't being drenched!

The good times didn't last long and as we made our way round the eastern side of the Isle, the rain began.  Before heading back to the car we clocked in 1 Whimbrel, several grounded migrant Wheatear, Rock Pipits, singing Skylarks and the occasional Pied Wagtail.  In fact the incessant continuation of horizontally falling rain made viewing worse but we soldiered on, only to see a few more Wheatear at Top Fields.  Unfortunately, the hoped for Redstart did not appear but we were treated to good views of some commoner summer migrants including some recently arrived Chiffchaffs and 3 Swallows hawking and flycatching over a small patch of fresh water.  A traipse around the Obs gardens didn't produce the Long-eared Owl we were hoping for so we aborted Portland and headed to Radipole for Iceland Gull and Garganey.

From the visitor center,  the number of hirundines was steadily increasing and included Sand Martins, Swallows and numerous HOUSE MARTINS (my first of the year).  After about half a miles walk to the opposite end of the reserve, we were treated with our first good bird of the day (and about time too!) 2 GARGANEY (a stunning pair) that appeared in a vegetated corner of open water.  Fortunately, they lifted our spirits sufficiently to continue our search for the Iceland Gull that had been reported on-and-off in the car park.  Another dip unfortunately but we did see the escape Hooded Merganser and enjoyed good company whilst scanning through a small flock of gulls that had assembled in front of us.

Once again, many thanks sh4rpy for the lift to Portland and back!

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