Field Trip Report – Weymouth and Portland – 23 March 2024

RSPB/BNHS coach trip to Portland Bill and Weymouth

Saturday 23rd March 2024. (Report and photos by Tony Cook)

Today was Bath RSPB’s monthly field trip and this month it was a coach trip to Portland also visiting Ferrybridge and Lodmoor. The coach set off with a full 33 person load and we made good time to our first stop at Portland with just 2 sightings on the way worth mentioning a Red Kite and Skylark. The weather forecast was not very good with showers and wind, and wow was it windy but we still managed a few good birds at the Bill with a Wheatear and Meadow Pipit being the first. A short sea watch gave us Herring Gull, Gannet, Razorbill, Fulmar, Shag, and Cormorant.                                             

A few of the members were interested to know the difference between shag and cormorant so seeing both made it easier. A Raven flew by and landed on the cliffs and Tom was able to get it in his scope so everyone could get a good view. It was so windy that it was almost impossible the stand still so we decided to walk around the head hoping to get out of the main blow, we did find a few Rock Pipits but the highlight of the visit here was 3 Purple Sandpipers a bird that many of the group had never seen before. Many Starling’s were on the lighthouse and on the sheltered side of the bill we found  a Willow Warbler probably only recently arrived, Oystercatchers were in several places and a few House Sparrows were on a beach hut. Carrion Crows passed by frequently and a single Pied Wagtail was found. A Kestrel was noted in the distance and as we walked by the side of the Observatory, Magpie and Stonechat were seen. It started raining so we sheltered at the entrance to the Obs and watched Jackdaw in the field opposite. Walking back to the coach a Linnet flew by.

Next stop was Ferrybridge but it was no less windy here but we were able to add a few wading birds to add to the days list, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Egret and Black Tailed Godwit before we made our way through Weymouth to Lodmoor passing Radipole on the way where we noticed Mute Swan and Tufted Duck. We had just an hour here before we were to set off back to Bath but it proved to be almost the best hour of the day with Blackbird, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Teal, Lesser black Back Gull, Marsh Harrier, Gadwall, Shoveler, Grey Heron, Lapwing, and Shelduck all being seen. 

Bryan spotted a Sand Martin towards the bottom end of the reserve and on scanning the sky many more were found with flock of 50 plus birds seen at one point. Chiffchaff and Long Tailed Tit were also located because we heard them calling. The final sighting here were several Mediterranean Gulls and again we were able to point out the differences between them and Black Headed Gulls with both species stood side by side.

Time to leave but not the end of the sightings with Rook, Buzzard and Pheasant added to the days total of 50 species on the journey back to Bath. Everyone I talked to said how much they enjoyed the day and one lady new to birding and to Bath RSPB Local Group was so impressed she was looking forward to joining us again in future so well done David and all who helped make it such an enjoyable day.

Birds: Portland.- Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpiper, Razorbill, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Fulmar, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Kestrel, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Linnet and Goldfinch.

Ferrybridge additional – Ring Plover, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Black Headed Gull, Little Egret and Skylark.