Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Ravens - Chardown and Stonebarrow Hill.

Ravens - there's a lot in the press about Ravens at the moment. This is a short piece in support of our largest passerine.

A Raven on a Coastal Cliff ...

... Inhabiting Remote hilltops ...

Walking on my local patch, a loud and echoing call rings out above me, drawing my attention to one of the resident Ravens. The call is described in the guides variously as Korrp! Korrp! or Prruk-Prruk-Prruk. What I hear is Gronnk!-Gronnk!-Gronnk! But anyway its an unmistakable call and I "always" stop, look, and marvel as one of these magnificent bird sails past.  Its a fairly familiar sight around the rocky hills and cliffs near Charmouth and around Lyme bay and Portland.

A familiar silhouette

In flight (see photos above), it's often difficult to judge just how big this monumental bird really is. Seen on the ground though and it's a different matter. Once, very early one morning, I was very fortunate to catch this early morning opportunist raiding the Charmouth car park bins. Ravens are huge birds!

A wonderful Raven - in its more usual clifftop surroundings

Ravens really are impressive birds, particularly if they show their shaggy throat feathering as these birds are doing:

On the cliff edge, showing throat feathering

Glossy all black, almost oily back feathers 

For me, it's a privilege to have these impressive birds on my doorstep.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Red Kite, Stonebarrow/Chardown Hill, Dorset - 16th Apr 2018

A rather disappointing day in the field was lifted by the appearance of this superb Red Kite late in the afternoon. Not a regular bird here so it was nice to see and quite a bonus on a quiet day. On the migrant front there were only a few Chiffchaffs and Linnets passing through early on. A single Wheatear was found on the horse field this morning.

Birds seen today on Stonebarrow and Chardown Hills, Dorset:
Red Kite, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Buzzard, Raven, Linnet, Green Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Yellowhammer, House Martin, Swallow, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Ring Ouzel - Portland Bill, Dorset - 12th April 2018

A beautiful male spring Ring Ouzel appeared in the Crown Estate Fields opposite Portland Bird Observatory early this morning. Picking it up as it flew from the north west corner along the fence line I had good 'scope views as it began to feed at distance. Unfortunately it quickly moved out of view behind some bushes. Walking round to the east side with sun behind me I got stunning 'scope views from near the Privet Hedge with the bird feeding at a distance of 200 metres or so. The bird was well marked showing the typical pale (almost white) half moon to breast, pale scaling to sides and distinct pale edges to its wing feathers. A handsome bird.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Glaucous Gull - River Axe at Coronation Corner 30th March 2018

A very wet day today was brightened for me when I heard at 15:44 via Ian Mc. that he had found yet another "white winger" Gull on the River Axe at Coronation Corner - a Glaucous Gull. This was too good to miss and if I could get there before it departed would be my 2nd local Glaucous of the winter. My first was the bird I self-found at Lyme Regis on 6th February. Jumping into the car I made the journey from Charmouth to Axmouth within 25 minutes and on arrival saw a single bedraggled figure huddled in the downpour on the viewing platform (local birder Tim White!).
Scanning the river, I quickly picked out the bird settled with some other large gulls between Coronation Corner and Tower hide on the east bank. And what a superb bird! I managed a couple of quick photos with the P900 in pouring rain before retreating to the shelter of the car. And at 16:40 it was away. It was huge and in flight looked even bigger than when it was settled on the river. I followed it in the binoculars until it was out of sight as it flew up and over towards Tower hide and then to the north and west. Wonderful. Thanks again to the finder.

Mediterranean Gull, Lyme Regis, 6th March, 2018

2 Mediterranean Gulls were off the Cobb this morning, this distant possibly 2nd winter bird:

The second bird was an adult Mediterranean Gull coming in to full Summer plumage:

Monday, 5 March 2018

Little Gulls, Cobb, Lyme Regis, 5th and 6th March 2018

On the 5th, a 1st winter Little Gull was feeding with Black-headed Gulls off the Cobb, Lyme Regis:

The Little Gull is roughly 2/3rds the size of a Black-headed Gull:

Here's a flight shot showing dark patterning to upperwing and tail bar:

Here are some more photos taken on 6th March when 2 birds were showing really well.

...and lastly a "Little" video clip taken 6th March:

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Bonaparte's Gull - Teignmouth, 27th February 2018

Continuing with the Gull theme - here are a few pics of the Bonaparte's Gull seen today at Teignmouth, Devon. A beautiful adult winter bird, slightly smaller than the accompanying Black-headed Gulls, paler under the wing making it seem sharper and brighter and surprisingly easier to pick out "in the field" than I was expecting from the written description. A rare vagrant from North America. Be very nice if one of these turned up locally at Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis. Very Smart.