Thursday, 2 January 2014

Off and running

Another year starts as does the tyranny of another year-list! 1st of Jan was a total dead loss, the weather being so horrible the closest I got to going out was taking out the rubbish! Still, nuthatch and coal-tit on the feeders were nice.
So, the 2nd promised decent weather which meant I could get some decent ticks. Choice was south coast, enabling me to combine a bit of birding with a trip to see Rita, my mother-in-law, and exchange a hat Judith bought which was too small at a shop on Dorchester!!!!
Clearly, the first stop was Portland to see if the Brunnich's guillemot was still there. It wasn't seen the day before and despite about 30 'scopes on site from 7.45 to 9.30 it didn't appear. By the time I've got home rumours are now flying that it has been found dead!!
The supporting cast was pretty good though. In no particular order it offered up the long-staying black guillemot, all 3 divers (black and red throated as well as great northern), all 5 grebes (great-crested, little, red-necked, black-necked and slavonian), red-breasted merganser, brent geese, gannet, kittiwake, dozens of med gulls and turnstone. Also got all the common gulls.
Close-by were one old favourite, the hooded merganser at Radipole Lake. This is a controversial bird, as it has been rejected as an escape, but LGRE and the 400 club still tick it, so I thought I might as well have it. Further down the road in a very wet park was a lone glossy ibis stalking around.
Things went a bit pear-shaped after that. Two common cranes were touring the fields west of Dorchester but I couldn't pin them down.
My last stop was Brands Bay near Studland Bay. I was there in November for the surf scoter which was still lurking around. Surprisingly here were no others borders around and it was a big bay. After 30 minutes searching I had come up with more grebes and divers, avocet, turnstone, shelduck and wigeon but no scoter. I was about ready to call it a day when I spotted a diving duck in the distance. It was the surf scoter but was horribly far-off. On the heath I picked up Dartford Warbler, which seem to be very numerous here, stonechat and mipit. Whilst waiting for the ferry a chiffchaff was in the bushes.
All this left me on a grand total of 76 species, so a good start to the year.