This blog is about my birding exploits, which mainly take place in the Weymouth/Portland area, in Dorset. Will also include stuff from elsewhere, plus some other critters too. Hope you enjoy. All photographs are © Brett Spencer, unless indicated otherwise. The above image is of a Siberian Rubythroat, taken in Holland in 2016.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Masked Wagtail

Subspecies, form or species. Whatever, it doesn't matter, because Masked Wagtail is a stunning beast.

I was kind of hoping that it would be me who would find the British first, but that privilege fell to a guy in Pembrokeshire, who didn't know exactly what it was, but knew it looked odd. The rest is history, as they say.

Now, I know I've seen a couple of the ultimate Sibes this year, namely Siberian Rubythroat and Siberian Accentor, but Masked Wagtail was a taxon I'd always wanted to see and I wasn't to be disappointed. A complete stunner and for me, is bird of the year.

The crispness of the hood and pattern of the median and greater coverts show this to be an adult male.

Being only the fourth record for North West Europe, this was a real mega.

I'm off now to find Britain's first Swinhoe's Wagtail. See, there is always a plan B.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Dorset's October up to 23rd

This makes for depressing reading.

Best Birds

Red-eyed Vireo - 1 pulled out of a net. Didn't linger.
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 hanger on from September.

Supporting Cast

Blyth's Reed Warbler - 1 pulled out of a net. Not really twitchable.
Subalpine Warbler sp - 1 or 2 seen briefly.
Little Bunting - 1 seen briefly.
Pallas's Warbler - 1 pulled out of a net. Didn't linger
Rose-coloured Starling - 2 or 3. Only 1 lingered.
Serin - 1 pulled out of a net. Didn't linger.
Common Crane - 2 seen briefly
Common Rosefinch - 1 not really twitchable.
Great White Egret - 10. Only 2 lingered.
Wryneck - 5. 1 from September, the rest brief.
Siberian Lesser Whitethroat - 1 pulled out of a net.
Siberian Chiffchaff - 2 or 3. 1 or 2 pulled out of a net and other brief. None lingered
Lapland Bunting - 2 seen briefly.
Iceland Gull - 1 seen briefly.
Waxwing - 4 seen briefly.
Great Grey Shrike - 1, probably returning individual from last winter.
Stone Curlew - 2 seen briefly.
Spoonbill - Included count of 60.
Yellow-browed Warbler - An influx of 95+

Looks pretty shit to me. Remember, this is Dorset as a whole. Compare with Spurn or Flamborough.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Bird Of Dreams. The Siberian Accentor at Easington, Yorkshire

Part of what is a quite extraordinary and unprecedented influx into North West Europe, the Siberian Accentor at Easington healed those hurting from dipping or not being able to see the Shetland individual.

Midnight Friday morning, saw myself, Richard Webb and Marcus Lawson head on the long journey North in the hope that this dream bird would stick overnight. We arrived predawn and already people were heading to where the bird had been seen the day previously. Once dawn broke, it wasn't long before we knew that our quarry was still present. Despite a stressful start, when people behaved like wankers, organisation then ensued and it became a much more enjoyable event. We went back for seconds when the crowd had died down and were able to enjoy it at our leisure.

The bird was extremely confiding, showing down to a few yards. The light wasn't great for photography, but then you don't care about that to much when watching a stunning bird.

Now for some pics.

Same size as Dunnock, but body noticeably more slender.

A stunning bird and one of the ultimate Sibes.

This low to the ground gait was quite typical and was unlike that of Dunnock and actually reminded me at times of Lapland or Snow Bunting.

This Shore Lark was a bonus bird for the day, that also included Eurasian White-fronted Geese and Ring Ouzel.

The sheer number of birds in the Spurn peninsula was amazing and couldn't be fully appreciated in our short stay, but I'll definitely be having an Autumn birding holiday here next year and probably every year from now on. It's unquestionably the Fair Isle of the British Mainland.

Monday, 3 October 2016

How Long Can It Last?

In truth, I've totally lost the enthusiasm to blog. I will keep it going till the end of the year, but after that who knows. I just can't be fucked anymore.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike & Ortolan Bunting On The Fleet

Started my day on The Fleet, doing the Moonfleet to Herbury section. Saw an Osprey hunting The Fleet, further up at Rodden Hive, but other than that it is was generally quiet, with just a splattering of migrants.

On returning to Weymouth, news of a Woodchat Shrike sent me off to another part of The Fleet, to Pirate's Cove. Didn't take long to connect with the Woodchat. A lovely juvenile that gave stunningly close views.

The field the shrike was favouring was very productive, culminating in me finding a 1st-winter Ortolan Bunting.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A Self Find Citrine Wagtail

As some of you may be aware, I have had a bit of a rare bird finding drought. Today, that drought came to an end, with a stunning 1st-winter Citrine Wagtail at Radipole Lake today. What made it all the more enjoyable was that this was a Dorset tick, bringing my Dorset List to 363.

I've obviously been plugging away with Radipole this Autumn, with the water levels from the visitor centre finally being suitable for providing birding potential. This is the first time for a some years that conditions have been good for a prolonged period of time at this time of year. I'd always thought that Radipole may hold the key for adding Citrine Wagtail to my Dorset list if the conditions were right.

Visiting the reserve first thing before work was going well, with yesterdays Ruff still present from the VC, a juvenile Cuckoo and a Redstart on the Buddleia Loop and a fly over Green Sandpiper. I got back to the VC, where now, I was joined by John Wall. Whilst talking to John, I noticed a pale wagtail in a muddy bay opposite the VC, which at first glance I took to be a White Wagtail, before it zipped into the reeds. I then got my camera onto the area, ready for the bird to pop out again, as I'd left my scope in the car. It popped out again, where I secured a few shots, just to double check my suspicions. Remember, I really hadn't looked at the bird properly, when at this point it flew and started calling. I thought, "Fucking hell, that is no White Wagtail." Knowing what it was, I checked the images on the back of my camera to make sure I wasn't going mad. At this point I let John know that the bird was a Citrine Wagtail. Luckily, the bird flew in a big loop and landed even more distantly on the edge of the reeds. I rushed to get my scope, whilst John kept his eye on where the bird was. 

Finally, I had my first proper views of this stunning 1st-winter bird. It was so strikingly pale grey and white, which along with it's overall jizz, it was no wonder I first thought White Wagtail. It was a very well marked bird, with a lovely pale ear covert surround, just cracking.

It didn't stay long and flew off strongly in a Southerly direction. Luckily, Dave Chown managed to secure views of the bird before it departed, as he lives just round the corner.

Amazingly, what is presumed to be the same bird was spotted on The Fleet briefly, before heading off West.

Now for some poor record shots. It was never close for pics.

 The day ended with a quick visit after work, which showed that the juvenile male Garganey was still present from the VC. A good day. :-)

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Yesterdays Radipole Car Park Yellow-legger

Cracking views of this mostly juvenile Yellow-legged Gull yesterday.

And finally, one more of the juvenile male Garganey at Radipole Lake from today, showing wing detail.