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.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Just a duff record shot of today's very elusive Rosefinch in the Portland Bird Observatory garden.

I actually saw it better than this, but it never stayed in one place long enough for me to get the camera on it.

Didn't see much else whilst up there, with singles of Hobby and Redstart and a few Whinchats the only other birds of note.


Have had the dreaded lurgy this week, so haven't done anything in the way of real birding. It's been doing my head in. I bloody hate being ill. Still, the Rosefinch cheered me up today. 

You'll notice I'm not calling it Common Rosefinch. Do we call Waxwings Bohemian Waxwing or Wheatears Northern Wheatear? The answer is no, so stop calling Rosefinches Common Rosefinch.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Melodious Warbler

This showy individual was found by Joe in the Bill Quarry. Looked very lovely in the evening sunshine.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Portland Again

More of the same today, with Nightingale and Wryneck still about. Dipped on another bloody Corncrake today, despite my best efforts.  

Despite what these photos might say, this Wryneck has been particularly elusive.

A couple more photos from today.

How yellow is this Willow Warbler? What a stunner!

Sedge Warbler.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Another Day And Another Wryneck

Only this time I found my own whilst birding Portland Bill. In fact, there was a good range of migrants at the Bill today, with my highlights being the above mentioned Wryneck, 2 flyover Tree Sparrows and more views of the long staying Obs Quarry Nightingale. I found the Wryneck in the big quarry on the east side by the pumping station, just south of Southwell.

Wryneck. Always nice finding your own.

A couple more pics from today at Portland.


Spotted Flycatcher.

And one pic from last Friday on Portland.


And finally, a couple of pics from Ferrybridge the other day.


Bar-tailed Godwit.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


When I had a blog before, people were always trying to censor what I was putting on it. In the end, I gave it up. When I started it up again, I wasn't going to allow outside interference. I am fed up of people trying to suppress freedom and expression of speech, however politically incorrect you view it. I'm also sick of you self righteous and hypocritical prats who complain about this blog. If you don't like reading it, then do yourselves a favour and don't, it's that simple. When it comes to my views, I pull no punches. What you see is what you get. If people want to misconstrue this as a hard man act, then that's up to them. I believe in responsible freedom when it comes to birding. As for my views of certain humans, well, then you could perhaps compare me with Hitler or an Antichrist. 


Anyway, back to birds.

Apparently, 2 Dotterels are being suppressed on Portland because of me. Now that's fucking hilarious.

Anyway, didn't find anything unusual today, but popped along to West Bexington to photograph the Wryneck.

It showed well.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Not Much To Report

Happy happy, joy joy, a week off work.  The birds haven't really delivered yet though. Having said that though, Saturday was okay, apart from the Corncrake dip. Sunday and today were complete non events, with singles of Greenshank and Pied Flycatcher on Lodmoor Sunday and a few Redstarts on Portland today. Also, away from Portland Bill, I never saw a single other birder. So, not only were interesting birds thin on the ground, but birders were probably best described as a rarity. And it's September. Now, today can be explained away as a working day, but yesterday?

I wish Radipole would let that bloody water down, it's beginning to really piss me off. As for Lodmoor, it could really do with a revamp and have some new scrapes created. But, being the largest conservation body in the country, they don't have any money to spend on a reserve that doesn't interest them. As for the RSPB's view of birders, well I don't think we'll go there, shall we, it's far to insulting.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Mystery Photo, The Answer

Well, if you were the one who said Herring Gull, then well done. I'm sure some of you are surprised by this, as most of you thought it was a Yellow-legged Gull. I must admit, I had to have a second look at this bird when I saw it. In flight though, the upperwing pattern and tail pattern were typical of Herring Gull. Let's take another look at it.

Juvenile Herring Gull at Ferrybridge. This photo was taken on 10th August. A Yellow-legged Gull would be showing some 1st-winter scapulars by now. Shape-wise, it is typical of Herring Gull and lacks the sleekness of Lesser Black-backed Gull. Great Black-backed can be ruled out on structure and amongst plumage features, scapular pattern.

Let's take a closer look at a couple of things.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Lodmoor. This photo was taken on 18th July. Note the pale pink legs. Although not viewable in the Herring Gull photo, the leg colour of the Ferrybridge bird was identical to nearby juvenile Herring Gulls.

Note the scapular pattern of the Ferrybridge bird, with the pale fringes producing a notched effect. This is typical of juvenile Herring Gull.

Note the general lack of notching on the scapulars of the Yellow-legged Gull, thus looking a lot neater. Lesser Black-backed Gull is identical in this respect.

Like the scapulars, the median and lesser coverts have that pale notching, giving it a marbled look.

Yellow-legged Gull, on the other hand, has dark feathers with neat pale fringes. Again, Lesser Black-backed is similar in this respect.

Now, I know what you are saying, "What about the greater coverts and those tertials."

Well, the greater coverts can look like that in Herring Gull, as for the tertials, well they are unusual for Herring Gull. Remember, and I wish I took some photos to show you, but I didn't, you'll just have to trust me, in flight, the tail and upperwing pattern were typical of Herring Gull.  Which leaves the tertials as the only anomalous feature. Well, again, though unusual, Herring Gull can show a tertial pattern like this. Tertials aside, there is nothing else to suggest that this bird is a hybrid. Plumage-wise it is within the variation of that shown by Herring Gull. 

As you know, large gulls are extremely variable, which is why you take a holistic approach and identify the bird by a combination of features. Hope this has enlightened you. I know it's certainly bored you to death.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I spent the day at Portland Bill and had something of a frustrating day. It all started well with good views of the long staying Nightingale in the Obs Quarry. Little Owl and 3 Redstarts were also present. 

Things were about to turn sour though. I was in the quarry trying to improve on me Nightingale shots and got distracted by a cracking male Redstart. A small group of observers arrived on the top edge of the quarry above me and whilst I was trying to get them onto the Redstart, they flush a Corncrake. Sadly, from where I was stood I couldn't see it and subsequently, despite searching, never saw it. BUMMER!!!  

I then wandered off, despite a Wryneck being on view elsewhere, and went off to try and find my own birds. I failed dismally of course, with nothing better than a White Wagtail to show for my efforts. 

On my way back through the top fields I was informed of another Wryneck, that I looked for briefly and failed to connect with. I then bumped into Paul and Jill who told me that an Ortolan Bunting had been seen in Helen's Fields. Despite looking, we failed to locate it. Compensation came in the form of a humbug that Jill kindly offered me, cheers Jill. On walking back to the Obs and heading towards the privet hedge, we accidentally flushed the Ortolan off the path. Luckily, it stayed in the general vicinity and performed reasonably well, much to the delight of the gathering throng of other observers. 

Nightingale. Just hearing the various calls from this bird was entertainment enough.

White Wagtail.

And finally, the Ortolan Bunting.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

The Semipalmated Sandpiper did the decent thing and leave Poole Harbour and return to The Fleet this afternoon. A mad dash after work ensued, with the desired result.

A cracking juvenile.

The Semipalmated Sandpiper with Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers. There were 5 of the latter present, all of which were juveniles.

Also present was this juvenile Little Ringed Plover.

Let's hope it returns to Ferrybridge, as it will be much better for getting close up photos. Well done Steve and thanks.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

What Is It With Rare Stints In Dorset?

I wonder how many of you went to Ferrybridge during Sunday and saw 3 Little Stints, eh?  Give yourselves a smack in the face from me if you were. Now, I know this is violent, but I'm hoping it will knock some sense into you. I'm kidding, of course, but in the day and age of quality field guides and access to the internet with a plethora of photos to learn from, we're still making mighty cock ups. Ah well. You'll notice I used the word we're, as I'm by no means perfect. Just wish I'd gone to Ferrybridge Sunday.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

That Mystery Photo

That mystery photo certainly proved popular didn't it?  So, to make things easier for you, I'm putting it out as a poll. Yes, multiple choice people. You'll see the poll to the right. Also, it give total anonymity. Cool, eh?