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, 27 April 2014

Dorset Blockers Part One

Just a bit of fun here. Over the past few years, there has been some top drawer additions to the Dorset list, for example, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler (remember BOU haven't split this one yet) and BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot, plus for the lucky single observers, Red-necked Stint and Marsh Hawk (a species in waiting and I much prefer the old name).

Now, I'm only interested in the species that have occurred in the lifetimes of current Dorset birders and then, only the species that have been widely viewed in the past. For it to be a true blocker, only species that haven't been twitchable in the last 10 years or more are covered here. So let's begin.

Snow Goose - Now this species position on the Dorset list is somewhat confused, maybe even controversial. Anyway, perhaps the only genuine record, is the bird that was with White-fronted Geese on Lodmoor from 25th December 1981 - 10th January 1982. It was also seen briefly at nearby Radipole Lake and Abbotsbury Swannery. 32 years have past and other than feral/escaped birds, not a sniff of a potential good one since.

American Wigeon - Has it really been 14 years since the last available one of these, a returning wintering male to The Fleet from 1997 - 2000. Surely, there has to be a reappearance soon, though I can't help thinking that this species has got rarer nationally in recent years.

Lesser Scaup - Has it really been 10 years. 2004 the last record.

Pied-billed Grebe - One at two sites, Radipole Lake & Littlesea, Studland from 25th January - 24th May 1980. 34 years have now past since this one.

Rough-legged Buzzard - You'd have to go back to 1978/79 for the last long stayer and even then, I don't think the news was widely put out at the time. Before this one you'd have to go back to 1968. We're well overdue a long stayer of one of these beauties. Very few current Dorset birders with this species on their lists.

Red-footed Falcon - Now this is a strange one, the last twitchable bird being 19 years ago at Ballard Down/Durlston in 1995.

Little Crake - The 1994 bird at Christchurch was only available for one evening. I look on in envy at the photo, hoping that one day this species will be available to all in the near future.

Little Bustard - It's been 26 years since the famous 1987/88 Christchurch individual. I dipped twice on this bird, so another one soon would be nice, pleeeease.

Collared Pratincole - The 1990 and 1992 birds were barely gettable. We're definitely due another one of these stunners.

American Golden Plover - inexplicably rare in Dorset, the last truly twitchable one was at Christchurch in 1992, 22 years ago.

Pacific Golden Plover - The last one, on Lodmoor in 1996, was 18 years ago.

Sociable Plover - 19 years have elapsed since the last. This bird was found when it flew in and landed on the gravel island outside the visitor centre at Radipole Lake in October 1995. What a panic this bird evoked. Having moved on quickly, it was relocated at Lodmoor, where again it moved on. Imagine the excitement when the person I was travelling with a the time, Mark Forster, relocated it at Poxwell, where it then allowed the masses to catch up with it. I don't think, at the time, we were quite aware of the species precarious status.

Western Sandpiper - 10 years have now past since the famous 2004 Brownsea bird.

Temminck's Stint - Incredibly, 17 years have passed since the last gettable ones on Lodmoor in 1997.

Baird's Sandpiper - Well overdue another one of these, it's been 16 years since the Christchurch Harbour bird of 1998.

Broad-billed Sandpiper - 2 at Christchurch Harbour from 16th-17th May 1986. 28 years ago.

Terek Sandpiper - Christchurch Harbour again, in 1998. 16 years ago.

Lesser Yellowlegs - The delightfully confiding bird on The Fleet from 7th-19th May 2000 was 14 years ago.

Marsh Sandpiper - Dorset's only record, a stunning summer plumaged individual at Christchurch Harbour in April 2000, 14 years ago, combined seeing this bird with a Great Spotted Cuckoo across the border in Hampshire.

Wilson's Phalarope - One at Sutton Bingham from 28th-30th September 1988 was 26 years ago. How much time this bird spent in the Dorset side of the reservoir I'm not sure, as I didn't go for this one, having seen the bird at Radipole Lake the previous year. 

Ivory Gull - Can we ever expect a repeat of the events 34 years ago in 1980. Perhaps the winter just gone was our best chance.

Bonaparte's Gull - 1981!!! Why, why why? 33 years ago, the last twitchable one in Dorset. The Weymouth Bay bird of 2006 was barely gettable, if at all and unfortunately for me, I was stuck at work.

Ross's Gull - A mega blocker. Christchurch Harbour 1974, an amazing 40 years ago. And this bird was a 1st-summer bird that lingered from 16th June - 20th August. It was a major twitch at the time. Just across the border in Devon, I've seen 3 of these beauties. Again, last winter looked like it might produce one of these in Dorset.

Franklin's Gull - 10 years have now past since the lovely pink flushed 1st-year bird at Radipole Lake in 2004. 

American Herring Gull - 12 years ago now, the Corfe Mullen Tip bird of 2002. A truly cracking find by James Lidster of a bird that's still bloody rare and hard to connect with on the British mainland.

Forster's Tern - My claim to fame this one. Having found it on Boxing Day 1995 off the Bridging Camp, on The Fleet, this bird continued to delight locals and visitors alike into 1996. 18 years have now passed without another.

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Well, we could have seen the two day St. Aldhelm's Head bird of 1989 had the news been released. Supressed for no reason this one. A much wanted Dorset bird by all and we came soooo close this year.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Portland Bill, September 1979. A four day stayer 35 years ago. A moribund bird in 1991, the record of which was never sent in unfortunately, but was found at the entrance of Budmouth School, was the closest any of us somewhat younger lot got to seeing this species in Dorset. Can't see a repeat performance anytime soon.

Is at this point we take a break. But, you'll notice that the following species are missing, Black Stork and Black Kite, both species of which have been barely gettable in the last 10 years and Allen's Gallinule and Scops Owl which are Dorset listers cheat additions, as they were only available to be viewed in the hand to a select audience. Yes, I was part of the audience for both. Anyway, the Allen's Gallinule was 12 years ago and the Scops Owl was 24 years ago.

1 comment:

Steve Groves said...

Great post Brett, really interesting stuff. Bring on those un-blockers... preferably at Abbotsbury!