October report - Weymouth
Ten of us went to Portland and Weymouth for the day on 25 October. The journey down was a bit fraught because we hit fog, which persisted until we were almost at Portland Bill, when it magically disappeared. We must have been doing something right!
At Portland Bill our first objective was to see what was on the sea. Answer - a lot of salt water, and not much besides! Apart from a few gulls our sightings were restricted to a single shag and two distant, fast-flying shearwaters (which could have been any one of three or four species). So we shifted our attention to land birds and walked towards the Bird Observatory. En route we saw Wheatear, Rock and Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a very obliging perched Buzzard, plus several others, so our initial disappointment was soon remedied. The light conditions at the Observatory were tricky, so we didn't stay there long, but returned to the car park by a different route. We stopped at the quarry, because on a previous visit we had seen Little Owl there. After several minutes searching, one sharp-eyed member found it and we all had good views of this attractive little bird.
We then went to Ferrybridge, where the still distant tide was coming in, so we had lunch while waiting for the water birds to become identifiable. Then a member spotted a land bird sitting on top of a rock only about 30 metres away. It was a female Merlin - a bird, which is rarely seen at all, and then only in rapid flight chasing a hapless small "victim". But there one was - in full close view. We could scarcely believe our luck and we all had excellent views of it. By
the time the excitement had died down the tide was far enough in for us to identify those waders feeding in the adjacent mud - mainly Grey Plover and Godwit (argument raged over which species - the sightings board said Bar-tailed, but the birds looked to us more like Black-tailed).
After all this excitement we went to Radipole Lake, where we saw many species of Duck (Mallard, Tufted, Pochard, Gadwall and Shoveler) and eventually we managed to find a Mediterranean Gull amongst the crowds of Black-headed Gulls.
And with that triumph in our pocket, we returned to Wells - a little earlier than usual because our leader had a speaking engagement that evening!