Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Went down to Cogden Beach(NT car park) to search for the SHORT-TOED LARK reported recently. Walking east towards West Bexington, about 800m no sign of the bird until brief flight views and distant views among the seakale with Linnets, Yellowhammer and 2 Wheatear. Shortly after continuing along the beach with no further sign , we decided to have a small picnic on the beach and see what was moving about on the beach & nearby scrub. Few minutes later I looked up and the Short-toed Lark was right in front of us about 20-25 metres away with several Linnet giving smashing views feeding & walking about. A superb bird & my 1st for the UK.
With light rain drizzle we headed onto Portland where we had excellent views of the 1st summer male GOLDEN ORIOLE present around the Observatory garden & Crown Estate Fields. Though very poor record images obtained as bird remained in centre of fields throughout the evening giving good flight views, some song & eating caterpillars!! So pleased I brought my scope as zoomed in views were superb!! What a day, Short-toed Lark & Golden Oriole!! It even got better when a pod of 6 Bottle-nosed Dolphins passed close off the Bill while seawatching and breached extremely close offshore for about 40mins. The day ended well with a beautiful sunset to the west!!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Eastern Subalpine Warbler Twitch!!!

Went down to Dawlish this afternoon to see the EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER (Sylvia cantillans albistriata) which was giving great views in scrub along track behind main pond near golf course. Arrived 6pm where several other birders were getting good views & song recordings of the Subalp as it sung from a nearby apple tree. The bird showed well at times, briefly in the open, mostly concealed by vegetation until dusk. A cracking bird! My 2nd UK record after seeing one on Skomer few years ago. Great to learn it's unique song, calls and learn its ID features on tail pattern & other plumage characteristics. A superb afternoon's birding with other highlights of 3 Cirl Buntings & 18 Whimbrel.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Portland Obs

Headed down to Portland in search of migrants at the Bill this morning. A quick stop off at RSPB Radipole Lake produced cracking views of 3 Marsh Harriers from the viewing screen. Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warbler song was in abundance across the reserve. Passage overhead of 100+ Swallow & House Martin & 1st Swift of the year quickly flying north were shortly pursued by a adult Hobby!! With not much else of note, news broke of a 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon showing well at the Top Fields, Portland!! So quickly headed to the Bill, but traffic delays at Weymouth and the bird had departed back out to sea rapidly. Seen 3 Red-footed Falcons in the UK in previous years and always a treat to watch!! Otherwise we had a superb few hours walking across the bill with several Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, 4 Whitethroat , 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Tree Pipit & 1 Yellow Wagtail and few 10 Willow Warbler of note. Large hirundine passage mainly of 50+ Swifts arriving fresh in off the sea. Quick seawatch produced Guillemot, 2 Manx and 5 Gannet off Pulpit rocks. Walking West Cliffs produced great views of a Peregrine and few more Wheatear.
Returning to the Obs garden to depart home clocked up 3 very showy Garden Warblers in the sycamore trees and a Lesser Whitethroat & another Spotted Flycatcher. A superb days birding and looking forward to returning again soon.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Migration in full swing!

These past few days have seen an extraordinary influx of our common spring migrants returning to the south coast in massive numbers. Portland Bird Observatory doing extremely well with triple figures of Willow Warblers, Wheatears, Swallows passing through. Notable counts of Grasshopper Warbler, Ring Ouzel, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers across the Island and other sites in Dorset & Devon recording similar numbers.
I spent several hours on patch every morning, hour in afternoon & an evening walk during the past few days recording migrant passage on site with some notable records for Charmouth!

Daily counts are carried out 06:00-08:00am, 13:00-14:00pm and either 17:00-20:00pm or 19:00-20:30pm depending on evening work finish hours!

So far regular patch walks down by the ponds, wet meadows and the willow glade have produced the following notable sightings. Recent grass mowing on top fields have made suitable habitat for Wheatear! However none seen today 20th April so presuming all have passed through now. The Willow Glade on patch is a mixed habitat of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Willow & Hazel coppice with dense bramble patches which as proved very fruitful in holding large numbers of Warblers feeding up but only for short periods!

The wild flower meadows on site have started to flower now, but the bordering gorse hedgeline & bramble thickets turned up 2 Redstart and 2 Whinchats!!Rather unexpected find. Yesterdays male Redstart by the lakes in the willow glade passed through quick along with several Willow Warblers and Sedge Warbler. Blackcap are present in high numbers across the site!

Tally Count on 18th April: 70 Willow Warbler, 56 Chiffchaff, 50+ Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Lsr Whitethroat, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 4 Tree Pipit, 100+ Swallow, 58 House Martin, 2 Whinchat, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Wheatear and 2 Redstart.

Tally Count on 19th April: 30 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 40 Blackcap, 4 Redstart, 1 Whitethroat & 3 Sedge Warbler. Notable count of 80+ Swallow over and decent flocks of Meadow Pipit & Wheatear in top fields.

Great to hear singing Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Tree Pipit and Redstart on patch during the week, hopefully indicating breeding birds for the area!

Today on patch still showed significant numbers of Willow Warblers present included several "Northern" very grey type birds. No sign of any Redstart, Wheatear, Gropper or Whinchat. However Tree Pipit in full song, 2 Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat & Chiffchaff all present in full song. It seems after the last few days, there has been a near-complete clearout of migrants due to clear skies & lack of cloud cover!

Here is a collection of recent images of the Spring Migrant influx on patch. Hoping for another fall in the not too distant future.




Swallow-One of many back nesting in the barns

One of several Wheatears in top field
1st summer male Wheatear



Willow Warbler

Female Blackcap

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

Vixen Fox watching while I was watching some Warblers

Monday, 3 April 2017

Spring Migrants on Patch!!!

Over the past few weeks, spring migrants have been increasing slowly across the patch. Most notable species increase in Chiffchaff with 50+ recorded on site on the 22nd March. On 23rd March shows complete clear out of Chiffchaff with only 2 present on site!! Numbers of late have been averaging around 20-30+ birds across the patch. Many in the Willows, Reedbeds and lakeside scrub. Chiffchaff counts below 5th Feb-30th March

05/02/2017 15
09/02/2017 2
14/02/2017 2
15/02/2017 1
12/03/2017 40
18/03/2017 18
22/03/2017 50
23/03/2017 2
27/03/2017 20
28/03/2017 30
30/03/2017 25

The first Willow Warbler of the year was recorded on 21st March. Only small numbers lately. At present numbers have fluctuated with 20+ recorded on 1st April.

27/03/2017 5
28/03/2017 5
30/03/2017 15

Blackcap have increased significantly on patch with several wintering presents at the end of February. First singing males in song during mid-March. Numbers of passage birds present throughout March with notable count of 12 on the 30th. Numbers on varying depending on weather conditions. Hoping for some big increases in  numbers in the coming days.

27/03/2017 8
28/03/2017 6
30/03/2017 12

Other notable sightings on patch include 1st Wheatear on 13th March and singles recorded recently. 4 Marsh Tit, 3 Green Woodpecker, 2 Stonechat, 4 Yellowhammer, 2 Dipper, 1 Red Kite, 20+ Sand Martin and 2 Kingfisher.

Had my 1st Redstart of the year on patch briefly passing through the willow glade on 1st April. An early, unexpected record and hopefully a good omen of some fantastic migration and birds to arrive in the coming weeks!! However patch birding yesterday only produced 6 Chiffchaff and single Blackcap!! A total clearout of all previous birds seen in recent days. So watch this space and hopefully will get a big influx of warblers in soon!!

Willow Warbler

Marsh Tit

Saturday, 18 March 2017


Hoping to post a full trip report from my recent trip to Fuerteventura in the near future, but now here's a small selection of images of some of the trips highlights. Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Fuerteventura Chat, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Berthelot's Pipit, Stone Curlew, Desert Grey Shrike, Fuerteventura Chat,  Egyptian Vulture, Audouins Gull, Red -billed Tropicbird, Kentish Plover, Trumpeter Finch, Spoonbill, Booted Eagle, Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon, Subalpine Warblers,Laughing Dove, Turtle Dove, Pied Flycatcher, Canary Island Chiffchaff, Great Reed Warbler, Plain and Pallid Swift and much more. 

Sandy plains at El Cotillio

Flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Berthelot's Pipit


Lava Fields at El Cottilo

Black-bellied Sandgrouse



A typical Barranco at Betancuria, Fantastic habitat for many warblers and migrant birds

African Blue Tit



Laughing Dove

Painted Tiger Butterfly

Painted Lady

Sardinian Warbler

Spannish Sparrow

Turtle Dove

Rarity on Fuerteventura!!! A Yellow-browed Warbler, One of 5 seen

Audouins Gull

Barbary Partridge

Barbary Ground Squirrel

Fuerteventura Stonechat

Cory's Shearwaters passing in huge numbers off Correjalo

Cream-coloured Courser on Tindaya Plains

Los Moslinos reservoir

Hoopoe- Very common, 20+ seen daily across the Island

Houbara Bustard
Displaying male Houbara Bustard

Kentish Plover at Costa Calma beach


Little Ringed Plover



Ruddy Shelducks

Desert Grey Shrike-Very common across Fuerteventura

Spoonbills at Costa Calma beach 

Spectacled Warbler

Spannish Sparrow

Black-winged Stilts at Los Moslinos Reservoir

Trumpeter Finch-Seen daily in the plains and barrancos

Tindaya Plains-Great for Houbara Bustard and Coursers

Eygptian Vulture and Raven

Yellow-legged Gull