Portland Bill & RSPB Radipole


A bonanza for year birds at the end of the month. Guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake, fulmar and gannet at the Bill, which also held rock pipits galore and a couple of wheatears. I was watching the last when a large wader took off behind them.

Somehow the bird looked all whimbrel but I couldn’t say how, apart from having watched hundreds of curlews over the winter. And having spent a great deal of Tuesday dismissing them down the Severn Estuary. I know a curlew. I don’t know a whimbrel so well. Out of pure caution, I logged the bird as curlew.

My route back to Weymouth passed an obvious tern but, from the car, I couldn’t tell which species. In compensation swifts were even more obvious at Radipole, where I also saw three Cetti’s warblers. Outstanding. Normally one hears dozens before any sighting of the elusive little chappies.

Presumably the hooded merganser I later picked out in one of the channels is plastic. In fact, the jury is still out on this one. Hoodie has only recently been admitted to the British list thanks to an individual on North Uist ten years ago. Yes, it takes that long to decide, so I’ll not be holding my breath for the Radipole bird. A beautiful sight, nonetheless.

Less than beautiful was the number of dog-walkers ignoring the “on leads” signs. 100% of them to be precise. Really there’s no end to the arrogance of these people. Arrogance and violence as I was to experience two days later.

But that’s for the future. Walking back into town, I picked out another, calling, tern, which I’m convinced was sandwich. The sound, size, languor and dark primary wedge all conspired to persuade me so.

When I finally got Web access, I checked BirdGuides and guess what? Two whimbrels reported at Portland Bill. The place really isn’t curlew territory and it is a prime incoming whimbrel site. So, should I count my bird or not?

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