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.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Dorset Blockers Part Two

Roller - 1 at West Milton was present on 3 dates from 16th-21st June 1975. Quite how twitchable that was at the time I wouldn't know, otherwise, your looking at the 2 day stay of a bird at Sugar Hill, Wareham Forest way back in 1966. So, 39 or 58 years ago. We've had a few in the neighbouring counties over the last 27 years, so it's about time we had one in Dorset me thinks.

Red-eyed Vireo - 19 years have passed since the one that I found at Littlesea Holiday Camp on 10th October 1995.

Steppe Grey Shrike - 1 at Portland Bill on 1st November 1989 was barely twitchable. 25 years ago. A repeat performance by one of these would be very much appreciated.

Chough - It's now been 11 years since the St. Aldhelm's Head bird of January - March 2003.

Nutcracker - How many of us have drooled over the picture in The Birds of Dorset book of the individual at Cerne Abbas? That was way back in 1968, 46 years ago.

Hooded Crow - The last twitchable bird in Dorset was 1 at Christchurch Harbour from March - June 1997. 17 years ago.

Cliff Swallow - 14 years ago now for the cracking bird that was at Verne Common, on Portland, from 29th-30th September 2000.

Greenish Warbler - Last years bird on Portland didn't really perform, so it's back to 1 at Weston, Portland from 1st-2nd July 2001. 13 years ago.

Radde's Warbler - 1 at Portland Bill on 13th October 2003 was the last realistically gettable one. 11 years ago. 

Western Bonelli's Warbler - A singing bird at Hengistbury Head from 24th-25th May 1984 was 30 years ago. Well overdue a repeat performance in Dorset. There was a bonelli's warbler not specifically identified to species, also at Hengistbury, from 29th-31st August 1989. I can't recall the news getting out on the latter bird at the time, so was maybe suppressed.

Iberian Chiffchaff - Surprised there hasn't been a repeat of one of these. 15 years have now passed since the famous Verne Common bird of 1999.

Asian Desert Warbler - 43 years ago now since Britain's first was seen at Portland Bill. Present from 16th December - 2nd January 1971. Oh, how I would like to find one of these beauties in Dorset.

Sardinian Warbler - The bird at Barleycrates Lane, Portland from 10th - 11th April 1995 was the last twitchable one 19 years ago.

Booted Warbler - 12 years ago now, since the bird at Portland Bill from 15th-19th August 2002.

Sykes's Warbler - 14 years ago now, since the bird at Portland Bill on 1st July 2000. I had a mad dash from north Dorset for this one.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Although I saw the 2008 bird, not long after it was released after being rung, I'm not sure how viewable this bird was after that. Otherwise, it's 11 years ago on 31st August 2003, that after being trapped in the morning, it did at least show in the evening of that day.

Aquatic Warbler - This has now become a truly rare bird nationally, though it is still a surprise that it has been 17 years since the last twitchable one in Dorset, at West Bexington in August 1997.

Fan-tailed Warbler - What a double whammy this was, with 1 at Portland Bill and 1 at Christchurch Harbour in May 2000. 14 years ago now and it doesn't seem like this species is going to turn up again anytime soon. Should I be calling this species Zitting Cisticola these days?

Wallcreeper - Arguably, the blocker of all blockers in Dorset, indeed in Britain as a whole maybe. It's been 44 years since this avian wonderment has graced Dorset with it's presence. Would definitely be a dream find for any birder. I think I'd probably have a heart attack if it were me.

Short-toed Treecreeper - Out of 2 records, the only long stayer was 43 years ago, a bird that wintered on Portland, at Pennsylvannia from November 1970 - March 1971.

Brown Thrasher - The only British record remains the bird at Durlston Country Park from 18th November 1966 - 5th February 1967. 47 years ago.

American Robin - 1 at Brand's Bay, Studland and then at Canford Cliffs from January - March 1966 is the only Dorset record. 48 years ago.

Siberian Rubythroat - The famous, though some would say infamous, bird at Osmington Mills on 19th October 1997 is for those who didn't see it, a major blocker. The stories I've heard about this bird, you wouldn't believe. Anyone who doubts the credentials of this bird now, is in my mind, barking mad. I think it's realistic to say, that a repeat performance in the near future may not be too far fetched.

Rock Thrush - It's now 26 years ago since that cracking male on Portland in April 1988. Sadly, the bird on Portland the following year didn't linger.

Pied Wheatear - A major blocker. I wonder if anyone has this one on their Dorset list. A bird at Portland from 17th - 19th October 1954. 60 years ago. This has to turn up again in Dorset real soon I reckon. Whoever finds the next twitchable one in Dorset, I'll certainly buy them a drink, so I hope it's me.

Black-eared Wheatear - It's now 14 years ago since that male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear at Upton Heath from 25th - 26th June 2000.

Desert Wheatear - The smart male at Studland from 5th - 6th March 1997 was the last available. 17 years ago.

Alpine Accentor - It's now 36 years since the one at Portland Bill from 8th - 30th April 1978.

Grey-headed Wagtail - Very rare in Dorset. 18 years since the last available one, 1 at Christchurch Harbour from 8th - 11th September 1996.

Blyth's Pipit - The astonishing record of 2 together at Portland Bill in November, 1 staying into December, 1998 was 16 years ago. I wonder, other than the people who saw it in the hand, how many birders saw the classic outertail feather pattern on one of the individuals when it was preening and stretching out it's tail?

Olive-backed Pipit - There hasn't been one available to the masses in Dorset for 44 years. A major surprise, as there have been several records since.

Red-throated Pipit - It's been 22 years since the two day bird on Lodmoor in October 1992.

Twite - 1 at Portland Bill from January - February 1989 seems to be the last available one. 25 years ago. Having said that, I never knew it was there.

Arctic Redpoll - 1 at Studland from 24th-26th March 1996 was 18 years ago. You can probably tell that I didn't see this one when I say, lump all the bloody Redpolls. Having said that, if another one were to turn up, I'd be there in a shot.

Savannah (Ipswich) Sparrow - Arguably, the most outrageous of Dorset records. It's now 32 years since the famous first for Britain at Portland Bill from 11th - 16th April 1982. That it was of the rare form A.s.princeps, colloquially known as Ipswich Sparrow is quite extraordinary. Can't see this being repeated somehow.

Dark-eyed (Slate-coloured) Junco - The 1993 bird in Dorchester was suppressed, so it's back to the delightful male on Portland that stayed from December 1989 - April 1990. 24 years ago.

Cirl Bunting - Hasn't really been a twitchable one since a female at Portland Bill from 13th - 14th May 1991. 23 years ago.

Rustic Bunting - One at Reap Lane from the 18th - 19th October 1998 was the last available bird. 16 years ago. This bird has become increasingly rare in Britain of late. 

Little Bunting - The last truly twitchable bird was at The Grove, Portland from 20th - 21st October 2001. 13 years ago.

Yellow-breasted Bunting - It's now been 11 years since the bird at Portland Bill on 3rd September 2003. It will be a miracle if Dorset gets another one, with the state of the population in the west of it's range. Unsustainable hunting in it's wintering quarters has caused this, so again it's down to the human race to wreck everything.

Black-headed Bunting - Hasn't really been a twitchable one for 36 years, a male at Portland Bill from 5th - 9th May 1978.

Bobolink - 12 years now since the Christchurch Harbour bird of November 2002.

Northern Waterthrush - 18 years have elapsed since the Portland Bill bird of October 1996.

Northern Parula - It's now 26 years ago since that 1st-winter male blew our minds with it's beauty on Portland in September/October 1988.

And finally, not mentioned as yet, is the southern Skua species that was at West Bexington from 27th January - 4th February 1996. Now 18 years ago. And I didn't bother to go and have a look at it, as it was identified as a Great Skua at the time, whoops.

We'll look at the species that have been seen by the very few and species that haven't occurred in our lifetimes another day.

Thanks to both Steve Groves and Alan Barrett for their help in the preparation of the blocker posts.

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