Sunday, 21 May 2017

Little Terns on the Fleet

Stunning Little Tern
Fulmers on Portland cliffs
Little Tern on the Fleet
Portland Lighthouse
Drop of the good stuff
Fleet Explorer
Portland Bookshop

For the second consecutive year my parents had a week away booked in Dorset so again I would have difficulty in turning down the invite for a short stay. Last year, I managed to record two lifers with the Greater Spotted Cuckoo & a Red-rumped Swallow, so I had to remain hopeful (despite the very poor spring in terms of rarities) that something else might land.

After spending a fruitless hour sea watching at Portland Bill (only really Gannets) I worked my way around the Bill, sightings were restricted to a Spotted Flycatcher, Stonechats, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Skylarks before chilling out at the Observatory & bookshop. 

Next stop was at Ferrybridge where I spent an interesting hour on the Fleet Explorer. Highlights were 10 Little Terns (51 now reported), returned from West Africa, that were preparing to nest on Chesil beach opposite the launch site for the boat. After population dropped to record lows RSPB, Dorset Wildlife Trust & land owners the Crown Estate launched an initiative to protect the terns. Initiatives included electric fencing, anti-perching devices (to keep away corvids & crows) , 24 hour monitoring & maintenance, introduction of sand patches (which supports birds in bad weather & also use of lasers to scare away predators). Other sightings including 3 Sandwich Terns, Cormorants & Oystercatcher. Birds have since increased by over 330%, a brilliant effort by local partners.

From there, I did a lap of Lodmoor but to be honest it was a bit disappointing as best as I could find were 5 Common Terns & a Marsh Harrier. A Spotted Crake had been reported during the evenings there but no one had reported it during the day. A good days birding but certainly no repeat of the Cuckoo. It was down to the local mill for a couple of local ciders.

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