Thursday, 25 October 2012

Maybe Tomorrow...

..that's a title I could have used for yesterday's post too!  Today was better though, less birds but a bit more variety.  

I didn't make it over to Portland again today - but am starting to dislike that place as they seem to be sucking up every BB rarity that's made it to the south coast of Britain!  Yes not only have they got a stunning Daurian Shrike, but on Monday they bagged a first for the Western Palearctic with a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, and today a Siberian Stonechat has appeared.  And don't forget the Wrynecks, Hawfinches, Yellow-browed Warblers, etc...

Anyway that's enough of the negativity about Portland - I am in danger of sounding like a fellow blogger and good friend of mine!

So I did try Axe Cliff this morning, and am pleased to have changed location.  There seem to be a few Short-eared Owls about at the moment, and I thought here would give me my best chance of seeing one. And with only one area of rough grassland, it wasn't hard to figure out where it would probably be! And when I got to this strip of pasture, as expected up came a Short-eared Owl.  But I didn't expect it to fly south, south some more, and even further south, until it was a dot half way across the English Channel!

It all happened so quick too!  This was the first photo I managed of it...


Yeah I know - it could be anything!


And this was the last photo I took of it...


You can just about make it out still!

Short-eared Owls aren't regular on patch - so they are always a joy to see.  But this one was even more special because it made me the first person to see five species of Owl in a year on patch.  I'd do anything to take that up to six species though!

Back to Axe Cliff, and a Snipe was my second best grounded migrant of the morning, with a Stonechat and stacks of Linnets and Skylarks also noted.

We never do very well with vis mig if the wind doesn't have west in it - and today was no exception.  There were good numbers of birds passing over, with Starlings and Wood Pigeons being the most numerous species, but they were flying in all directions making counting impossible!  There were lots of Chaffinches too, along with several Siskins, five Mistle Thrush, two Brambling, two Reed Buntings and one Redpoll sp.

One of the biggest Wood Pigeon flocks I saw this morning
 
After Axe Cliff, a quick look along the Estuary showed a Ringed Plover (my first here for almost a month - just shows how terrible this autumn has been!), a Barwit and a Common Gull.

Mid afternoon the weather looked to be clearing, so I headed up to Beer Head.  I was wrong - in fact it clouded over even more and the wind was much stronger up here!  I still gave it a bash though.  Not much apart from Blackbirds in the bushes on the head, but looking down the Underhooken gave two immature Ring Ouzels. Two Stonechats were along the track as I walked off the head...sadly they weren't pale with black underwing coverts!  I have seen Sibe Stonechat once (Spurn), and I have to say I was really impressed with it!  You may think 'I won't bother - it's just a Stonechat'. I can tell you it really isn't - they can look more like Wheatears! Top birds.  Well done Portland...

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