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.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Highlights Of 2014 Part 1 (January - end of June)

The year started off with a Glossy Ibis feeding on a flooded football field at Radipole.


One of the highlights of the winter period was the influx of white winged gulls to Dorset. This included seeing 2 of the 3 Kumlien's Gulls recorded. 

This bird was barely twitchable. I managed to catch up with this individual off Abbotsbury Beach.

This individual was a little more cooperative, though still not easy. This one favoured the fields on Abbotsbury Hill. © Martin Cade

These two birds were the first gettable Kumlien's Gulls in Dorset since 2001, so were well received by those who managed to see them.

Multiple Glaucous and Iceland Gulls were also enjoyed.

Glaucous Gull at West Bexington. West Bexington was something of a mecca for the white-winged gull influx.

Iceland Gull at Ferrybridge.

Rarer locally than the white wingers is Scandinavian Herring Gull, with one at Radipole Lake.

They're not all identifiable, but when an individual presents itself with all the right combination of features, you can be confident in assigning one to form.

Portland Harbour was certainly at it's best, but though the BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot didn't make it into 2014, there was still plenty of interest, which included 2 Black Guillemots.


Away from the stormy coast, a Great Grey Shrike was on winter territory in Wareham Forest.


Dorset also played host to a wintering Surf Scoter, 2 wintering Cranes and singles of Red-breasted Goose and Green-winged Teal. The winter storms blew in, what is thought by some, Dorset's second White-billed Diver. Sadly, this bird wasn't widely viewable. Leach's Petrel and Grey Phalaropes were also a product of the winter storms. A Great White Egret, a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers and several Siberian Chiffchaffs were also uncovered during the winter months.

Winter gave way to Spring and started in fine fashion, with a fabulous Great Spotted Cuckoo near Seaton, Devon and was frustratingly close to Dorset.


There was a good selection of southern overshoots during the spring, though my only contribution to the year so far was a single flyover Serin at Portland Bill, whilst looking for Pomarine Skuas.

Red-rumped Swallow at Lodmoor.

Black-winged Stilts at Bestwall.

Serin at Portland Bird Observatory.

Hoopoe at Portland Bill.

Black-winged Stilt at Lodmoor.

One of four European Bee-eaters on Portland.

As the Spring wore on, the overshoots certainly started getting interesting, with a cracking Eastern Subalpine Warbler putting on a fine show at Portland Bill for starters.


A Rose-coloured Starling is always exciting to see.

This cracker was at West Bexington.

But all hell was to brake loose, when news broke of a Short-toed Eagle on show in Wareham Forest. We needn't have rushed, as this bird was quite the performer.

The first record for Dorset and a British tick for me. One of the highlights of the year.

The last of the quality overshoots was a lifer for me. Singing loudly from the top fields at Portland Bill, a Thrush Nightingale announced it's presence. Luckily, it showed well, albeit briefly and put to rest my dipping spree on this skulking species. Sadly, I didn't have time to photograph it. Still, I was just glad to see it, having dipped on 3 previous individuals in Dorset.

Dorset had another close miss, but I couldn't resist seeing another Ross's Gull in nearby Devon.


A couple of blockers fell for the Dorset listers in the Spring, with Temminck's Stint and Hooded Crow finally giving themselves up.

Unbelievably, this Temminck's Stint at Lodmoor was the first twitchable one in Dorset since 1997.

Hooded Crow also hadn't been widely viewed in Dorset since 1997, so this bird on Portland was well received.

Other than the Short-toed Eagle and Thrush Nightingale, my only Dorset tick was something of a county bogey bird for me, so it was good to finally get Goshawk firmly inked in.

One of the birds of the year in Dorset during the Spring, and certainly one all of us would have loved to have seen, was the stunning male Marsh Hawk that made it's way up the West Cliffs on Portland. Seen by one very lucky observer, who thankfully had his camera on him to add it to Dorset's avian history books.

© Peter Moore

Other avian crackers in Dorset that didn't linger were both Citrine and Grey-headed Wagtails, Greenish Warbler, Pallid Swift and Black Kite. Rosefinch, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Skua and Great White Egret completed what was an exciting season locally.

Arguably, my best photo of the first half of the year goes to the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Wareham Forest. Always stunning and exciting to see, this ever elusive species sadly becomes ever more hard to connect with, as the species continues it's rapid decline.

This particular photo has been published in the book Britain's Habitats by Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still & Andy Swash, which is a beautiful publication and well worth purchasing.

1 comment:

Steve Smith said...

Well done Brett. Quite a few species I had forgotten about. Looking forward to part 2
Steve