Trip Report October 2014
Full day trips are a bit of a paradox. They always seem to attract a small response; but those who go on them are enormously enthusiastic, both at the time and afterwards.
Enough of the philosophy! Yesterday a total of seven people went to Weymouth and Portland on what was a beautiful day weather-wise, and not at all bad from a birding perspective.
We arrived at Ferrybridge 40 minutes after high tide, when a wader-watch should have been excellent, but the water was far too high to allow waders to feed, so we went straight on to Portland Bill. We planned to spend the first 15 minutes sea-watching, but on our way to the point, we saw so many interesting birds flitting about that it took us nearly 30 minutes to walk the first 150 yards! Most unexpected was a single Black Redstart, and there were also three or four Common Redstart, plus Meadow Pipit and Song Thrush.
The sea-watching was a disappointment and yielded only Shag and Gannet, plus a few gulls, so we walked along the cliff top admiring Rock Pipit on the meadow, and Meadow Pipit on the rocks! Did that confuse us? Well - yes! On the same walk we also had good views of Kestrel, Buzzard and flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch, and towards the end many Stonechat and even more House Sparrow.
We then returned to Ferrybridge where the water level had gone down quite a bit, and we combined birding with a packed lunch. We saw many Brent Geese and Dunlin, plus a few Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Black-tailed Godwit. And there was a Little Egret and a surprising number of Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black-headed. The sandwiches weren't bad either! We then returned to Weymouth and spent the last two hours at Radipole Lake.
RSPB Radipole Lake is a large reedbed reserve with some open water as well. There we were lucky enough to get good views of their long-staying rarity the Hooded Merganser.
There were lots of Grey Herons, an audible but invisible Cetti's Warbler and a couple of us saw a Kingfisher for about a second before it took off into the reeds.
The day's species count was a respectable 55 different species. Not bad.