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 image above is of the Short-toed Eagle at Morden Bog, taken on 1st June 2014.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Bit Of Dragonfly News

Went to check on a couple of Damselfly species local to my home. First off, Small Red-eyed Damselfly. In Weymouth, this species is best seen at Bennetts Water Gardens, but can also be seen at Granby Ponds, Chickerell Downs and has also been seen at Radipole Lake. For those wishing to see them without paying to go into Bennetts Water Gardens, it's best now to go to Chickerell Downs. Take the turning for Bennetts Water Gardens and a little way on from it's entrance is an area to pull in and park the car. Go through the gate, the path splits shortly after the gate, take the path that leads off to the right and after a few yards the pool is visible in front of you. This site offers good views with binoculars. Sadly, Granby Ponds is now very overgrown and a telescope is needed for views of them at this site.

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly at Chickerell Downs today.

Next, I went to check Tidmoor rifle range. This was the only known site for Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly in the Weymouth and Portland area after two former sites, one on Portland and one in Weymouth were lost. Sadly, due to lack of management, this site has become too overgrown and thus, the last remaining site has also been lost. They were never numerous at any of the sites, but certainly the Tidmoor site had the potential to be managed in such a way as to encourage the species to prosper. Sadly, when I first found them there and told relevant authorities of their existence, I was met with a complete lack of interest. I pretty much knew they were doomed because of that. There is still hope I may find the species again locally, but any site found is doomed unless the site is managed specifically for it's needs.

Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly at Tidmoor in 2010.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Two Dorset Ticks, But They're Not Birds

As you may, or may not be aware, I've had a bit of a bad spell recently, some of it of course, brought on by myself. 78 people responded to the poll about the blog and to it's supporters, I give you a heartfelt thankyou. To it's, or rather, my detractors, I can only ask, why on earth do you read or look at this shit. I don't know, maybe it's so you can stick and twist the knife in further to my increasingly screwed up head. Anyway, I think I have paid for my sins, having lost my job. Luckily though, having been out of work for just one day, I landed myself another full-time job, which I started last Wednesday. I can only hope I turn a few corners from this and that my utter hatred for living will eventually subside. It is only my wife and daughters that keep me going. The nature thing is purely an escape from reality, albeit, an extremely pleasurable one.

Anyway, back to them ticks, and I'm not on about blood suckers. Last Friday I took the opportunity to look for Continental Swallowtail butterflies that had been seen at St. Aldhelms Head. The weather wasn't perfect, but luckily the weather broke for a short period, during which I managed to see 2 individuals. Both were tatty, but beggars can be choosers and I'm sure there will be another chance to see some pristine individuals when, hopefully, a second brood emerges. 

Individual 1.

The far tattier individual 2.

Back to yesterday now. And thanks to Nick for a great day out. The target species this time was Purple Emperor. We managed to see only 1, but 1 is all you need.

Only the one record shot was managed.

I've now seen 49 species of butterfly in Dorset. I wonder what will be my 50th?

Now for a few pics from recent times.

Baby Moorhen on Lodmoor.

Oystercatcher on Lodmoor.

Raven on Portland.

Guillemots on Portland.

Kittiwakes on Portland.

Female Southern Hawker in Wareham Forest.

Male Downy Emerald in Wareham Forest.

Baby Sika Deer in Wareham Forest.

Male Yellowhammer at Batcombe.

Tufted Duck family at Radipole Lake.

Baby Little Grebes at Radipole Lake.

Male Marsh Harrier with rodent prey.

Juvenile Peregrines at St. Aldhelms Head.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Answer The Poll

If you want this blog to continue, say yes. If not, say no.

The Poll is to the right.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hooded Crow

Decided to pop up to Portland this afternoon, to pay homage to the Hooded Crow that has recently taken up residence. This was only the second that I had seen in Dorset, the last as long ago as 1989. So, to some Dorset newbies, the recent fall of blockers like Hooded Crow and Temminck's Stint came as welcome additions to their Dorset lists.

Also from today, another one of...

Corn Bunting.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

A Dorset Tick

Today found me exploring inland Dorset. After a tip off, I checked out a secret site, where one of my Dorset bogey birds finally gave itself up, in the shape of a Goshawk. Sadly, no photos taken as the bird was watched for only a short while as it was carrying food in, presumably for some hungry chicks. Just the one sighting today, but I'll definitely be making a return visit. Also, a Red Kite seen at this site.

Some pics from today.

Corn Buntings.

The only raptors that approached closely today.



Tree Pipit. Here caught in song flight.

Portland Provides Me With A Lifer

Julian Thomas found a Thrush Nightingale in the top fields around lunchtime, whilst he was looking in vain for the Hooded Crow that had been seen earlier, the likelihood of seeing it from the reports given seemed like nil. After hearing the sound recording, I thought I'd pop up to the Bill and listen to this songster for myself.

 It was obvious at first that there was no chance of seeing it, with no access allowed into the surrounding fields. As luck would have it though, the owner of one of the fields passed us on her horse and said we were more than welcome to enter the field next to the hedge from where it was singing. This gave me hope. I'd dipped on 3 of this species in Dorset and just thought that this would add to the tally of dips. Being in the field and hearing it singing filled me with pessimism though, as it was singing from deep cover. I really did think that there was no hope of seeing it. Anyway, three observers, one of which was Nevil Fowler, just happened to be in the right place when it popped it's head out, albeit briefly, but enough to note such details as upperpart tone looking very greyish, dark malars and orangey toned tail, the latter as it dived back into the bush. When it was perched, we could only see the head side on, so any details in breast marking was not noted. Sadly, as I reached for the camera, it dived back into thick cover, so couldn't immortalize the beasty for posterity. Still, can't complain, don't get too many lifers in Dorset these days.

Later on, headed out to a sight not too far from home to watch Nightjars. They weren't to disappoint, with some good views to be had.

Sadly, clipped the wingtip off on this shot.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Banned Again

Not that I'm bothered, but seems I've been banned yet again from posting on the rare bird information bit of Bird Forum. I started out as Brett Spencer and got banned, so then went under the name of Bert Weeble and got banned. My latest disguise was that of Goran Stroodlehouzen and I think I've been banned for calling Bird Forum shit after all the rumours of bad behaviour at the Short-toed Eagle twitch. Anyways, if people want to talk shit, that's up to them I guess. 

Certainly from my perspective, I kept to paths and the Short-toed Eagle was totally unconcerned by the hordes of onlookers. As for adhering to instructions about viewing from the ridge, yes people eventually did approach the bird a lot closer, but as I said, the bird was unconcerned. From where I was, looked like birders were on the paths. A certain well known figure from Birdguides got a lot closer than anyone and it could be said, maybe he should be setting an example. But, and here's the but, the bird was still happy sitting in it's roost tree after he had gone. Stories of flushing was total bollocks, I mean fuck, a dog walker walked straight past it the evening before when it was sat on top of a tree and it didn't budge. Also, stories of people stepping on reptiles and amphibians was also ludicrous. Whilst bad behaviour does occur at twitches and remember, it's not just photographers that are to blame, it's normally caused by a small minority, so stop exaggerating situations and making things more than what it was. Stories of Aidan flushing the eagle the first day are shit. Anyway, even after it flew from a top of a tree, it was still viewable in the tree it eventually roosted in.

So, get a fucking grip people, at least weren't not Maltese murdering scum.