Day 8! Seems not so long since it started and yet here we are. Quick check round the moths this morning did not provide anything different from the previous mornings, though there remained some nice moths, such as Dark Arches and a few Footman species.
I decided to go to the Bill today and do the Seawatching that I did not do yesterday. Trains were a bit more suitable and the bus was all plain sailing, though it as a tourist service so did take a while to reach the bill. That being said it was very interesting to hear about the history of Portland. Apparently to say ‘rabbit’ or ‘bunnies’ to a Portlander on a Friday is a big insult, after rabbits once buried into a quarry, causing a landslide which killed a number of quarrymen.
Once at the bill I immediately set up Seawatching, and did not have to wait long before I had my first Balearic Shearwater of the day, 3, which descended onto the sea only for me to lose them in the waves. However, I was pleased to have got the watch off to a good start.
Birds were thin on the ground again, but there were a few Gannets and Guillemots moving about, some quite close in. There were also the usual Shags and Cormorants blogging about. Three flocks of Common Scoter also flew past, maybe about 25 birds in total. Sadly they were distant but good views could be had through the scope.
After an hour I decided to have a walk round the field looking for butterflies. There were no new species, but there were a few Lulworth Skippers present. I had intended to head home after this but my parents called and said they were coming down. As a result I stuck around and headed back Seawatching.
Good thing I did too. After it had slowed down initially, the birds started to pick up again. In the next two hours I was treated to at least 2 Balearic Shearwaters going past. Initially middle distance but occasionally less than 20 meters away from shore, to give you an idea of the fantastic views I was getting. After a bit, two settled down on the sea mid distance, and I was able to watch them blog about. There was even one following a fishing vessel with the gulls. They were awesome. I tried to get some photos but it’s hard to keep the camera in focus when the target is always moving, so they did not come out as well as I had hoped.
Besides the Balearics there were a few other goodies. I had just 2 waders; a Ringed Plover, which came from the left, then banked and returned back that way, and a Turnstone which did the same. And a final treat just as I was wrapping up, was a flock of 11 Manx Shearwater which were more distant, giving an ideal contrast to the Balearics. Manx Shearwater was also a yeartick, number 207 for the year.
After an outstanding Seawatching session I headed to the butterfly reserve again, but numbers were down on yesterday. Highlights were a solitary Small Blue, a few Chalkhill Blue on the coast and a few more Lulworth Skippers in between. Also a Common Lizard on one of the walls was a nice addition to the day list.
I think its fair to say I made the right call in going back to Portland to do some Seawatching. It was good fun, and meant I was able to add Balearic Shearwater to the list of species that I have photographed.
Portland: Gannet, Guillemot, Shag, Herring Gull, Balearic Shearwater, Black-Headed Gull, Common Scoter, Starling, Kestrel, Skylark, Great Black-Backed Gull, Ringed Plover, House Sparrow, Cormorant, Turnstone, Manx Shearwater, Raven, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Common Lizard, Emperor Dragonfly, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Marbled White, Small Blue, Common Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell ,Painted Lady, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Lulworth Skipper,