One more birding blog from my wonderful weekend at the Portland Bird Observatory and then no more about Portland … till next year.
In case you don’t know, Portland is sort of an island – it is actually connected to the mainland – but it looks for all the world like a small island jutting out into the English Channel. It’s where the famous Portland stone (used to build such landmarks as St Paul’s Cathedral in London) comes from, and so the coastline is dramatically rocky and the land is riddled with quarries, many of which are now disused.
On the Saturday of our long weekend we went for a wonderful walk, along the cliff-top coastal paths and inland through fields, and later in to one of the old quarries. Those with ’scopes spotted some nice seabirds passing by, and gannets, shags, cormorants and various gulls could easily be seen with the naked eye and bins.
Kestrels were abundant – one sat obligingly on top of a post (though shooting in to a bright sky didn’t make for good photos) and I managed to get a reasonable fly-by shot.
As well as seeing Stonechats, Meadow pipits, a Whinchat, Wheatears and large flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets, we also disturbed a family of Pheasants (mum, dad and two kids) in one of the fields.
And the resident Little owl popped out of its hidey hole in a local quarry for a short time early on Sunday morning, though, again, the light was not the best for photography.
All up the group total for the weekend was 117 species seen or heard. At 82, my personal total was a bit lower but it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts – of those 82, 15 were lifers, birds I’d never seen before – and that’s a pretty impressive total for just three days’ birding!