Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Friday, 19 May 2017

Golden Oriole...

I haven't seen a Golden Oriole in the UK for a very long time, nearly twenty years!  They tend not to hang around for long or turn up inconveniently during the week when I can't usually get out to see them. But a young singing male arrived on Portland Bill in Dorset a few days ago and when news broke that a second bird had also been seen, I just had to zip over there and try my luck. I picked up Dave Helliar and we made it to the Bird Observatory by mid-morning where one of the birds was singing in the Obs garden from dense cover. Just listening to it sing was a treat, an exotic sound normally reserved for trips into Europe.

A patient wait ensued and then a shout went up "Red-rumped Swallow"! What a bonus! We found the bird in amongst a small flock of hirundines and tracked it for a minute or two as a silhouette but then it turned, dropped lower and flew towards the top fields allowing good views until it vanished behind the Observatory building and out of sight.  We rushed to the front of the Obs and again picked the bird up as it fed back and forth across the field about 150 meters away. Then Dave picked up another one - there were two together!  We had great binocular views but they were too distant for my bridge camera and only record shots were obtained.

Red-rumped Swallow, Portland: R. Harris

Red-rumped Swallow, Portland: R. Harris

Red-rumped Swallow, Portland: R. Harris
Pleased with our luck we moved back to view the Obs garden once again in the hope the Oriole would give itself up as well. It wasn't long before it flew and, as with the swallows, we followed it as it lapped the garden and disappeared around the front of the building. This time the bird had continued flying towards the cover at Culverwell several hundred meters away. We didn't fancy our chances of seeing it there, the ground cover is dense and birds can vanish into it never to be seen again but we went to try anyway. To our joy it hadn't yet gone-to-ground and was still perched where it had landed. Again distant but beautiful scope views were had.

Golden Oriole, Portland, Dorset: R. Harris
Before it disappeared into a leafy tree and out of sight.


Golden Oriole, Portland, Dorset: R. Harris
Mission accomplished.

Much better photos of both the Swallows and the Oriole (in the hand) can be found on the Portland Bird Observatory blog: http://portlandbirdobs.blogspot.co.uk/

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