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.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Kumlien's Gull

Took the day off work today in the hope of getting to grips with a probable Kumlien's that had been reported from Abbotsbury Swannery and nearby West Bexington in the preceding days. I popped into Abbotsbury Swannery first off and saw an adult Glaucous Gull flying above the beach, before disappearing onto the seaward side. Next stop was West Bexington, where a 1st-winter Glaucous Gull added to the white winger tally.

Very distant record shot of the 1st-year Glaucous Gull at West Bexington.

With not much else happening here, I decided to walk to Abbotsbury Beach. On reaching Abbotsbury Beach, I noticed lots of large gulls on the seaward side in the area of the tank teeth. Looking through groups of gulls on the sea, I came across another white winger and BINGO, a 2nd-winter Kumlien's Gull. Identification confirmed, I then proceeded to photograph the bird as best I could. The record shots below show the salient features.

3rd-calender year Kumlien's Gull.

Note primary pattern, being greyish with neat pale fringes.

Note dark pigmented primaries restricted to outermost feathers.

Note the tail band.



On a sunny day, because of the light, best looked for in the afternoon. Did actually go back with Alan Barrett this afternoon, but all we could locate was the 1st-winter Glaucous Gull. The gulls were further east of the tank teeth than earlier and time and energy didn't allow us to go any further.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The End To A Frustrating Weekend

Have had very little reward from this weekends birding. Today's highlights were a Great Skua, an adult Little Gull and a Slavonian Grebe, all at Littlesea, The Fleet.

This Great Skua flushed masses of gulls off the Chesil Beach and at that point I felt confident I'd pick out a white winger.

But, the only thing I picked up....


Was this leucistic Herring Gull that I'd seen the other weekend. Where's the fucking justice. I want a white winger, not an aberrant piece of crap. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

More Of That Glauc

Not a very successful day today, but managed nice flight shots of the West Bexington adult Glaucous Gull today.

Looking good on the mere.



Looking stunning over the sea.


Friday, 21 February 2014

No Kumlien's, But Glaucous And Little Gulls

Went to West Bexington this afternoon in the hope I might connect with today's Kumlien's Gull seen earlier in the day. It wasn't to be, but an adult Glaucous Gull and up to 15 Little Gulls was ample enough compensation.

This adult Glaucous Gull is a real bruiser and is the third individual I've seen at this site this winter.



At nearby Cogden Beach, Little Gulls have been giving excellent views this week, feeding in fields that had been occupied by last autumns Sabine's Gull. I wasn't to be disappointed and up to 15 were feeding on worms. All were adults, except for 1 1st-year.

Gorgeous birds, but can we have a Ross's please?






Check out the head pattern on this one.


A successful hunting foray is rewarded with a juicy worm.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Not A Lot

Well, despite sifting through large numbers of gulls, the only thing I gained from the experience was a leucistic Herring Gull and dipping on a Leach's Petrel. On The Fleet, 2 Slavonian Grebes were at Ferrybridge, along with a Great Northern Diver, whilst another Great Northern Diver was at Littlesea. Best bird of the day was a Short-eared Owl being harassed by gulls over Ferrybridge. Also missed out on some superb photo opportunities from Portland Castle today it seems.




Sunday, 9 February 2014

Portland Castle/Marina

A short walk with the wife at Portland Bill produced 3 Purple Sandpipers, whilst stopping off at Ferrybridge on the way back produced nothing other than a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose. This afternoon I'd planned to do Weymouth Bay, but got a call from someone wanting me to check something out at Portland Castle. Well, it came to nothing, but it sure was an enjoyable visit, with 2 Black Guillemots, a few Black-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes, singles of Black-necked Grebe and Sandwich Tern and several Great Northern Divers. Of the Great Northern Divers, 2 were incredibly obliging allowing great photo opportunities.









The patterning to the upperparts indicate that the above bird is a 2nd-year bird.

This bird though is a 1st-year bird.




Note the differences in the upperpart patterns. Duller more defuse fringes to the feathers on the 2nd-year bird at the front, compared to the brighter crisper fringes on the 1st-year bird behind.

Both Black Guillemots together.


The new kid on the block. Another 1st-winter bird.



1st-winter Sandwich Tern.

Continental Cormorant.