Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Friday, 11 October 2013

No RBF but a STL...

When Andy Grinter got in touch and asked if I wanted to head towards Portland Bill this afternoon and try our luck on the long-staying red-breasted flycatcher (see post below) at Wyke Regis, I decided it was worth a look. Although the red-backed shrike that accompanied it for several days had moved on, the flycatcher had still been showing up until yesterday, so I thought we had a chance. On arrival it soon became clear that it hadn't been seen today, darn it (I wish more people would put out negative news on scarcer birds as well as positive, it would potentially save a long trip for nothing.) Still, too late to worry about that. Doug Stannard soon arrived and we spent an enjoyable half-hour or more chatting, looking at his wonderful California photos and seeing the odd bird or two, mostly stonechats, a single wheatear and a smart ring ouzel.

There had also been reports again early today of a short-toed lark that had arrived on Portland yesterday, however it had not been since mid-morning after being flushed by a walker (Doug had been the last birder to see it). Then news arrived that it had in fact been seen by someone around 1pm, so it was still about even if elusive. We headed off to Portland though by now it was raining quite heavily, which didn't bode well. On arrival we decided to take a look at the Obs quarry first, where a thrush nightingale had also been released this morning having been caught in the Obs mist nets first thing today. No sign of that either, just one or two blackcaps, a few dunnocks and a rather damp Brett Spencer. Unperturbed we headed up the track opposite the Observatory, to see if we could connect with the lark. The rain had eased but only one other birder was looking for it (Brian Stagg), and he hadn't seen it (there's a theme going on here...). I strolled further up the track and suddenly flushed a small lark from the side of the path. It didn't fly far and dropped back into a small stubble field on the brow of the hill. We re-traced out steps and slowly approached the field, it flew again - I was certain it was the S-T lark! Once again we went back on the track and relocated it about 20 metres away feeding. We managed to get closer for some great views:

Short-toed Lark: Andy Grinter
Short-toed Lark: Andy Grinter
It's toes are so short I'm surprised it can stand up.
And, of course, some video:

Short-toed Lark: Roger Harris

Great little bird and the first one I've seen for some years.

Dave Helliar managed to catch up with the S-T Lark on Saturday morning and also saw Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Whinchat and Yellow-browed warbler before getting good views of the Glossy Ibis from the north hide at Raddipole in Weymouth:

Water rail: Dave Helliar
Glossy Ibis, Raddipole: Dave Helliar
Ring Ouzel: Dave Helliar

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