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.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

My Note to Mya-Rose AKA BirdgirlUK

Hello. Please hear me out. 

The tweets shown on BBC were not directed at or meant for you. Yes, I am anti religion, but I don't hate the people. I am truly sorry if you have felt threatened by my comments as this was never my intention. The South East Asian tweet was not well worded, I admit, and was said in anger as I was upset at seeing the wildlife crime in that region, especially China. On the Islam theme, as with all religion, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I don't hate you, or hate what you are doing. Being interested in birds and wildlife and getting other young people interested is a good thing, why would I detract you from that? I am married to a woman of Indian descent, so don't think I am racist. I have 2 girls of my own, so, I'm not in the business of bullying 15 year old girls. If you have felt bullied in my name, I certainly haven't done so. Sorry if you have felt that way though. I'm angry at the BBC for not being impartial and using comments out of context, but I want you to know that I am not angry with you. Keep getting young people enthused about nature, that is a great thing. But, avoid the term ethnic minority, enthuse all young people, as it doesn't matter whether they're green, blue or purple, they're all people.

One final note. I do hate, and don't hide the fact, that how Humans have treated other species and their environment with contempt is repugnant to me.

Take care and wish you all the best.


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Dorset Blockers Finally Unblocked

Thought I'd revisit a couple of past blog posts today.

Since I wrote those articles in Spring of 2014, quite a few of those species have finally given themselves up. The most recent of which is the drake Lesser Scaup, currently residing at the fabulous Longham Lakes. The last one was in 2004, so this will be well received by many.

Red-footed Falcon - The Wareham water meadows bird of 2015 ended a 20 year wait. Since then, we've had the opportunity to connect with a couple of others.

Temminck's Stint - The Lodmoor bird of 2014 was the first twitchable bird since 1987.

Baird's Sandpiper - The Brownsea bird, this year, started what would be an unprecedented Autumn arrival of American shorebirds into Dorset. This bird was the first since 1998, but was soon followed by another twitchable bird on The Fleet.

Lesser Yellowlegs - Poole Harbour and the brilliant Lytchett Fields hosted a wintering bird during 2016/17 and ended a 16 year wait for many. We've even had the opportunity of two more to look at this Autumn.

Bonaparte's Gull - This was an odd one. Eventually though, the species finally gave itself up at Ferrybridge in 2015. That was incredibly a 34 year wait. 2017 has provided a couple more opportunities to connect with this lovely gull, with the Longham Lakes bird being particularly noteworthy, being a rare inland record.

Great Spotted Cuckoo - 27 years of pain finally ended on 13th May 2016, with the brilliant long staying bird on Portland. The suppressed bird of 1989 can now, at long last, be forgotten.

Greenish Warbler - The obliging bird at Portland Bird Observatory this Autumn, was the first twitchable individual since 2001.

Western Bonelli's Warbler - A bit like buses this species. You wait for ages, 1984 to be exact, and then 3 come along all at once. Singles at Portland Bird Observatory in 2014, 2015 and 2016 gave many the chance to add this one to their Dorset lists.

Aquatic Warbler - The bird at Lytchett Fields, in 2016, was an awesome find and the first twitchable bird in Dorset since 1997.

Hooded Crow - Portland provided the first twitchable Dorset bird since 1997, in 2014. It has since been followed by a couple more, for example, the one at Studland this year.

Cirl Bunting - West Bexington became the venue for this species to be unblocked. The last twitchable individual was in 1991, so the birds of 2014/15 were certainly appreciated, though they were somewhat dogged by suppression at the time.

What will be the next one to fall? I'm hoping it's gonna be Asian Desert Warbler. We can but dream, I suppose.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Lesser Vs Greater Yellowlegs

A couple of the Lesser Yellowlegs on Lodmoor from yesterday.

And now the Titchfield Haven Greater Yellowlegs, from 2015, for comparison.

Tried to find pics in similar pose and this is as close as I got.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

An Update From The Demise Of Radipole Lake Post

Well, I am told by somebody within the RSPB that my blog post about Radipole is helping. Hmmm? It seems rather odd to me that nobody within the Dorset RSPB team, especially the new reserves manager, has not taken the liberty to either comment or get in touch with me personally. Is this arrogance on their part? 

By certain members of the local RSPB team, when I have spoken to them, I have been spoken back to in a patronising manner. I have also been accused by a member of staff in the visitor centre at Radipole of making an intern quit their internship, something that I have subsequently found out to be untrue. Yet, no apology is forthcoming. 

And what about the future for Lodmoor. Again, there is no transparency as to what future management plans are on the table to improve the site for both birds and people. Oh, did I mention people? People are very important when it comes to urban reserves like Radipole and Lodmoor. If you make the sites good for birding potential, you know that non birdy people will see stuff and might just get inspired. Leading on from that is RSPB membership, which then equates to revenue. Also, it'll attract more people to Weymouth, thus contributing to the local economy. 

So, people out there, if you have any comments, I'd like to hear from you. I'm on about anyone, not just RSPB staff. The comments can be posted where it says comments below this blog post. Have your say, as it is extremely important.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Demise of Radipole Lake

The RSPB reserve of Radipole Lake in Weymouth, in birding terms, is a, justifiably, famous place and has been a haven for water birds. Sadly, it's reputation in recent years is much diminished. There are various factors for this, for instance, the Weymouth relief road that took up a fair amount of the flood plain in the late 1980s. This subsequently caused the area to flood more frequently and also helped cause the silting up of the lake. In recent years, the lack of management of the reserve by the RSPB is tantamount to neglect and total incompetence. Open water areas have been left to diminish and the water flow through the reserve has both slowed and in places stopped altogether, causing various problems. Growth of bushes and scrub which dry out reedbeds, for which Radipole is a site of special scientific interest, have been left unchecked and allowed to flourish. A meadow that was once full of thousands of Southern Marsh Orchids has somehow been ruined by management by the RSPB, there are none that I'm aware of in that meadow now.

Future plans for the reserve, I am told, will not be birder friendly. How can this be? The nature reserve in smack bang in the middle of a town, with easy access for visitors by car or public transport. Surely, the RSPB's job is to inspire peoples interest into birds and wildlife in general. If you make a place where birds are reduced in numbers and also restrict the viewing capabilities of being able to enjoy such things, how on earth are you going to inspire people. By listening to experienced birders with a long term knowledge of the site, the RSPB could make this place great again, inspiring not only established birders like myself, but people wanting to get closer to nature. Sadly, due to their total arrogance, the RSPB are not interested in listening to people like myself. So, with much sadness, the future for Radipole Lake is bleak.

Gone are the counts of 500+ Teal, 100+ Shoveler, 600+ Pochard, 500+ Tufted Ducks and regular wintering Scaup. The RSPB website would have you believe that large numbers of Pochard winter at Radipole, but this is not the case anymore, with the maximum count of 18 in 2015. What does it still say to this day about star species on their website? See below.


Large numbers of pochards congregate on the water at Radipole during autumn and winter. They often spend the days asleep as they do most of their feeding at night.

Notice the lower case used in Pochards. 

With water levels kept high these days, gone are the big pre roosts of Black-headed and Common Gulls and gone are the variety of passage waders and counts of 100+ Snipe during the winter. It's even had an impact on the roosting of Yellow Wagtails in the autumn.

Scarce and rare water birds, that understandably generate excitement, have also declined in occurrence. It's certainly had a great track record, emphasis on the had. Shall we have a little look?

Green-winged Teals
Ring-necked Ducks
Ferruginous Ducks
Pied-billed Grebe
Sabine's Gulls
Laughing Gulls
Bonaparte's Gulls
Franklin's Gulls
Ring-billed Gulls (Maximum day count of 4)
Britain's first Caspian Gull, plus others since
White-winged Black Terns
Whiskered Terns
Caspian Terns
Gull-billed Tern
Black-winged Stilts
Kentish Plovers
Sociable Plover
Temminck's Stints
Red-necked Phalarope
Lesser Yellowlegs
Long-billed Dowitchers
Pectoral Sandpipers
Wilson's Phalaropes
Terek Sandpiper
Glossy Ibises
Purple Herons
Little Bitterns
Night Herons
Squacco Herons
White and Black Storks
Spotted Crakes (Used to be annual)

Adult Ring-billed Gull, 1 of 9 species of gull, on the gravel island viewable from the visitor centre on 20th March 2004. The island today is impenetrably covered in vegetation and even a small sallow. 

See what mud from the visitor centre can do. Not only does it produce more birds for people to look at and get inspired, but can also turn up rarities, like this Citrine Wagtail on 1st September 2016, thus inspiring me. Alas, they kept water levels high all autumn and as a result, hardly any birds.

An abundance and variety of birds will inspire people and attract people to visit, ultimately helping to recruit RSPB members and also helping the local economy. Makes sense doesn't it?

And then there is Lodmoor. Sadly, a shadow of it's former self and again the product of neglect and certainly a lack of imagination by the RSPB.

Think the RSPB should have a long hard look at itself.