Sunday, 26 June 2016

All quiet on the Southern front

It may be a bit controversial to make a reference to Europe at this moment. I am still feeling a bit raw over the referendum vote and the potentially disastrous consequences of that. We have managed to get away from it a little bit though, by going down to Dorset to see Judith's mum for the weekend.
We are seriously into the doldrums though where birding is concerned, and so I had little expectation of anything exceptional or even vaguely interesting when I got up at 5.30 to head down to Portland.
First stop was at Ferrybridge. The tide was out and there was a lot of mud on show, but little by way of birds. The nice bit though was the number of the little terns around. Seriously depleted in numbers now, they nest on the shingle beach with a constant watch from local volunteers to ensure that the nests aren't either disturbed or predated.

 The day was turning though into one of those typical Summer days this year, dark, dull and cold. This was as good as sunrise got!
Next I went down to the bill to see if there was anything around. The answer was, not a lot. On the sea there was a bit of a movement of Manx shearwaters going down channel, but they were a long way out. Gannets and auks, razorbills and guillemots but no puffins, and 6 common scoter added the supporting cast. On the land the only birds of note were a large flock of linnets by the lighthouse.

I tried the top fields as well hoping for the over-summering short-eared owl but nothing. There were good numbers of skylarks singing though

and a pair of kestrels were hunting vigorously, presumably trying to feed a hungry chick somewhere.

Finally, I tried Lodmoor, but even this normally reliable little jewel of a reserve slightly let me down. The terns were nesting on the islands and were flying in and out to feed their chicks.

a lone common sandpiper was pottering about

a pair of oystercatchers were probing in the mud

and a few whitethoats were scratching away on the bushes.

Otherwise it was as quiet as I think I have ever seen it.
The highlight of the day was probably when I got back to the house and baited in a few rooks with a bit of stale bread!

So overall not exactly a day to make you feel full of the joy of a new dawn rising in Europe but better than nothing I suppose.