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, 26 May 2014

Seen By The Lucky Few (Part 2)

A continuation of yesterday's post.

Scops Owl - Just a couple of records, the last of which was an at sea record in March 1990. Seen by a select crowd later at Portland Bird Observatory. Some of that select crowd probably count it on their Dorset lists, if they have one, but really? Sure, it was great to see, but in reality, it was as plastic as a Ruddy Duck. It would certainly be far nicer to see one roosting in a tree somewhere. There's always a good chance there will be another one, let's just hope it's soon.

Egyptian Nightjar - The single seen at Portland Bill on 10th June 1984 by the one lucky observer is envied by many. How great would it be for someone to find a roosting bird somewhere for all to see. I think we're living in dream land if we think there will be another.

Nighthawk - Hate the word common, so not gonna use it. Anyway, just one Dorset record at Studland in October 1983. Feel optimistic there will be another one of these, but think it could just be a flyby for some lucky observer/s.

Little Swift - Two records, the last in 1997. Keep checking those Swifts people.

Steppe Grey Shrike - Okay, had this in the blockers section, but it wasn't seen by many in reality. Excellent chance of another one of these beasties.

Balearic Woodchat Shrike - One Dorset record of this distinctive form, in May 1986. Well overdue another.

Crested Tit - As with the Killdeer, seems ridiculous to me to have records like these in a void, just because it was once Hampshire. Well, it's now Dorset, so get used to it. One record of the continental race L.c.mitratus at Christchurch Harbour in 1846. We get records of Continental Coal Tits, so why not another one of these.

Calandra Lark - The first British record at Portland Bill on 2nd April 1961 remains the only one. This surely has to turn up again.

Lesser Short-toed Lark - I was one of the many dippers the following day in May 1992. If I'd been at home when the phone call came through, well, who knows. Still remains the only British record. On the same track as last years incredibly obliging Short-toed Lark. What are the chances of a repeat?

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler - This astonishing record on Portland on 22nd October 2012, was seen by a select crowd. Sakhalin Warbler hasn't been split from Pale-legged by the BOU yet, so for now, it's still Pale-legged in my book. If another one of these turns up in Britain, I'll eat a pair of my socks. I've heard a lot of shit about the behavioral differences between the two forms, but this is not in a vagrant context, where a bird could do just about anything. As well as high up in a tree, it was also seen foraging close to the ground. Both forms would have been considered unlikely to turn up in Europe at the time, so I think it a little bold to even consider Sakhalin as being a candidate. It certainly wasn't on my radar when I fucked it up as an Arctic Warbler, after it had been fucked up as an Eastern Crowned Warbler.

Western Orphean Warbler - One at Portland Bill on 20th September 1955 remains the sole record. We're well placed to get another me thinks.

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler - Portland Bird Observatory struck big time on 13th September 1996. I only wish I'd burnt down every available bit of vegetation in the surrounding area, as I may have then had a chance to see it. There'll be another.

Paddyfield Warbler - Now this bird chose the most stupid time to turn up. Trapped and ringed on 21st July 2011, on The Fleet at Tidmoor Rifle Range. Where was I? Holidaying with the family in Italy, that's where. Don't think we'll have to wait long for another one of these to turn up though.

White's Thrush - The first British record and only one for Dorset to date was shot near Heron Court on 24th January 1828. Can certainly see one of these being pulled out of a mist net at somewhere like Durlston or Portland Bird Observatory, so will certainly stay in the category of seen by the lucky few.

Grey-cheeked Thrush - 1 at Portland Bill on 9th October 2008. Even though successfully twitched by some, it remained a bugger for others who only saw it inadequately, including myself, grrrr. There will be another though, I reckon.

Black-throated Thrush - Just the one record near Throop in January 1994. Scanning those winter thrushes will surely pay dividends one day.

Citrine Wagtail - Four have occurred in Dorset, 2 together at Christchurch Harbour on  15th October 1966, a male on Lodmoor on 6th May 2009 and 1 at Portland Bird Observatory, on a garden pond for crying out loud, on 11th May 2014. Not sure the 1966 birds would stand up to modern scrutiny, but with several near misses, I don't think we'll have long to wait for one of these.

Whilst on the subject of Wagtails, does anyone have any information on the 1970 White-throated Wagtails on Lodmoor, which would have appeared in the blockers article, or the Christchurch Harbour bird of 1984? These Ashy-headed types are a BBRC rarity and so far, there are no accepted Dorset records.

Pechora Pipit - Two records, both from Portland, in September 1983 and October 1990. A couple of near misses in recent years gives hope that there will be another, but will it stick?

Two-barred Crossbill - Well, the winter just gone should have been the year to finally add to the single record from July 1966, but it wasn't to be. If this species colonizes this country, we'll get another chance soon I hope.

Pine Bunting - A single male in April 1975, at Portland Bill is the only one to date. Get out and check those wintering Yellowhammer flocks around Puddletown me thinks and be prepared to look closely for a female.

So, what of the blockers will fall next and which of the ones that have only been available for the lucky few will finally give itself up to the masses? I'd be interested to hear your predictions

Thanks to Paul Harris, Alan Barrett, George Green's fabulous The Birds Of Dorset Book and the various Dorset Bird Reports and all the observers involved in the making of them for the help with these blog posts. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My prediction is Calandra Lark at the Bill (first week of June) failing that Temmincks Stint Lodmoor in September. Cheers Kev.(Bun)