Having traveled down last night we were all set for the first full day out on our summer holiday in Dorset. Sadly as we had arrived overnight, moving the caravan was first on the agenda that morning so I was unable to get out. This was not an issue as the weather was a little less than I would have hoped and as such I opted to stay in bed and wait around.
I got up around half 7 and went for a walk round the caravan site checking out the toilet facilities for any good moths. As soon as I got to the first block I spotted my favourite moth, a Buff Tip, which I have only ever seen once before, which was also here. There were plenty of other goodies, but sadly some were more difficult to photograph, but I got a decent photo log of the different species seen.
Since the weather was pretty poor the family decided to go into Weymouth for a look, which meant I had a free ride to both RSPB reserves, so got dropped off a Lodmoor for a look round. I had hoped to yeartick Greenshank, probably my biggest tart yeartick, and I was very pleased that it did not take long to spot one, feeding along the edge of the lake. It was not the only wader, as there were 2 superb looking Black-Tailed Godwits. In total I had a very impressive species list from my morning there including; a Peregrine that flew through, a brief Cettis Warbler, 2 Common Sandpipers, both Common and Sandwich Terns.
I finished up at Lodmoor and walked along the seafront into town to reach Radipole Lake. Along the seafront there was nothing besides Herring Gulls, except for a single Gannet out at sea. Radipole was much quieter than Lodmoor but that is hardly surprising. I was waiting for my family for lunch, so I only stayed at the entrance to scope the main large lake to see what there was. I picked out 5 species of gull: Greater Black-Backed, Lesser Black-Backed, Herring, Black-Headed and finally Mediterranean. There was only a single Med Gull and it was distant but it was a superb summer adult bird, looking fabulous.
After lunch I went round the reserve with my parents. My mum picked out a couple of super Scarlet Tiger moths on the floor of one of the boardwalks which I was able to get good photos of. Before they had been a little scratty but these were both in superb condition.
On the bird front there was much less than Lodmoor, but still plenty of decent birds. The number of Hirundines had picked up throughout the day and by the time we reached the far hide there were hundreds of House Martins, Swallows and Swifts. A Juvenile Long-Tailed Tit plucking feathers from a branch was novel. There were a few duck species, Tufted Ducks were in abundance as per, but also 2 Pochard which I had not seen there before and a Gadwall on the path. Finally there were a few raptors about, namely Sparrowhawk and a few Marsh Harriers, including a juvenile perched nicely on the trees behind the hide.
As the afternoon drew on we decided to head off home and follow the tennis final on the radio. After dinner I decided to make my first visit to Tadnoll Heath nature reserve for a look, since it was fairly local and was able to get there easily.
I arrived on site to a Yellowhammer in full song, and though I failed to pick it up initially, I did manage to pick up 4 individuals through the 2 hours I spent on the site. There were also 2 Stonechats which were also calling, and I got the added bonus of a juvenile Green Woodpecker on the path. It was very flighty but the light was fading and so I was unable to get a photo that was any good. I did manage a record shot of the Yellowhammer though, but sadly not one of the singing males.
I was thinking about heading off as the evening drew on, since I was on a bike and I had no night equipment for my bike. I was walking across the main path back to my bike when I flushed 4 passerine birds. They immediately grabbed my attention as they did not call when they were flushed, nor did they call during flight.
This interested me, so I followed them to where they fell and then made my way across there. Sadly I could not pick them up in the heather and before I knew it I had flushed them again. I followed them again, but quickly realised that in the light I had no chance of picking up the features I was looking for, so I decided to try and grab some photos.
Fortunately they banked round and came close enough for a record shot attempt. I followed them 2 more times but was unable to pick them up on the ground, making my job very frustrating. More frustrating was that they did not call at all during any of their 4 flights, save once when they flew straight over my head, I heard a soft call, but it was so faint I could not really relate it to anything.
By now though I could get a grip of the jizz of the bird and as such was beginning to form an idea of what they could be. I began to think that these were probably Woodlark, as they flew similar to skylarks but looked far more compact in flight. There were a number of issues, namely the lack of calling and the fact that I was in more open heathland, but everything else seemed good.
Having got back and checked the photos, I can confirm that they are Woodlark. The only major issue is that the only clear photo I have of the birds in flight shows the lack of the white bar on the wing. However, all other features are good and with the lack of the light it is possible that it was not picked up by the camera, or that it was a young bird. Only my second self-found lifer this year. Not bad going, and the species I really wanted this holiday. Now knowing they were there I think it’s fair to say I will probably see them again at some point during my stay here.
What a way to start the holiday, with a nice lifer and a couple of yearticks, as well as a bumper crop of moths.
Crossways Caravan Site: Robin, Magpie, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff,
Lodmoor RSPB: Cettis Warbler, Common Tern, Greenshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Black-Tailed Godwit, Moorhen, Coot, Linnet, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Grey Heron, Black-Headed Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Lapwing, Starling, Tufted Duck, Carrion Crow, Reed Warbler, Blackbird, Dunnock, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Egret, Peregrine, Wren, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Collard Dove, Common Sandpiper, Reed Bunting, Feral Pigeon, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Swift, Cormorant, House Martin, Swallow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Common Whitethroat, Gannet, Pied Wagtail,
Radipole Lake RSPB: Mute Swan, Great-Crested Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Swallow, Coot, Moorhen, Feral Pigeon, Black-Headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Swift, House Martin, Collard Dove, Canada Goose, Woodpigeon, Reed Warbler, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Long-Tailed Tit, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Great Tit, Pochard, Gadwall,
Tadnoll Heath: Stonechat, Coal Tit, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Yellowhammer, Herring Gull, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, Woodlark, Mistle Thrush,