Seabirds over the massive waves of Portland Bill

A few hours of forecasted sunshine was enough for us to get out of the house and take a bit longer journey to the south coast. We targeted to reach Portland in Dorset before the rain would come in the late afternoon. This was the first time we have been there and it was far beyond any expectations. It wasn’t terribly exciting birding wise, but as I love seabirds, I enjoyed watching some of them a lot. The wind was rather  strong and the rough Atlantic Ocean provided some massive waves. We, midland guys, enjoyed it a lot.

Again birding wasn’t that serious with the girls as it would have been if I was alone. I was left alone to enjoy seawatching as long as I wanted – I love my girls. Bush birding was rather restricted to a few places only.

A few Northern Gannets were flying around the western cliffs. @ Gyorgy Szimuly

A few Northern Gannets were flying around the western cliffs. @ Gyorgy Szimuly

There are some awesome bird photography possibilities at the tip of the peninsula. European Herring Gulls are always nice 'subjects' to photograph. @ Gyorgy Szimuly

There are some awesome bird photography possibilities at the tip of the peninsula. European Herring Gulls are always nice ‘subjects’ to photograph. @ Gyorgy Szimuly

Of course the most interesting hotspot of the peninsula was the southern tip with an impressive view to the ocean. European Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls were dominant along the coast. Great Cormorants and occasionally Northern Fulmars were flying close to the shoreline. One Northern Fulmar was flying meters away from me. I tried to pick something over the rough water, but I could manage to find a few more fulmars, some Northern Gannets, a flock of Arctic Terns and more offshore European Herring Gulls. There is a small breeding colony of Common Murre on the western cliffs and quite a few birds was seen flying to and off the cliffs.

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Some pairs of European Herring Gulls were collecting dry mown lawn for their nests. @ Gyorgy Szimuly

A view to Portland and the Weymouth Bay. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A view to Portland and the Weymouth Bay. © Gyorgy Szimuly

On the western part of the tip, just before the restricted area, I found a single Eurasian Rock Pipit, sitting on a rock. Upon my approach, it didn’t fly away and allowed me to watch it from just a few meters. It was most probably a new subspecies (A. p. petrosus) for me, as till today I had seen the Scandinavian subspecies, the A. p. littoralis.

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Massive wave at the western side of the peninsula tip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The lighthouse of Portland Bill. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Nice poster about the wildlife of Portland Bill, placed at the shore. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Nice poster about the wildlife of Portland Bill, placed at the shore. © Gyorgy Szimuly

List of birds seen and their numbers:

Northern Fulmar 6
Northern Gannet 8
Great Cormorant 11
Common Murre 16
Black-legged Kittiwake 4
European Herring Gull 78
Great Black-backed Gull  24
Arctic Tern 9
Eurasian Collared Dove 4
Eurasian Jackdaw 28
Carrion Crow 32
Eurasian Skylark  2
White Wagtail (Pied) 1
Eurasian Rock Pipit 1

I had a short visit to the western cliffs along the SW Coast Path near Southwell. A flock of 45 Bar-tailed Godwit was flying eastward over the ocean, while Northern Fulmars were flying close to me again. On the nearby pasture 5 (Eurasian) Northern Wheatears and 2 beautiful (Greenland) Northern Wheatears were feeding.

Shortly before 6PM it started raining heavily. Anyway, I made my last stop at the southern part of Wyke Regis to look to the Portland Harbour where the sailing events were held during the London 2012 Olympic Games. A juvenile Iceland Gull was reported here in the morning. Here I saw 14 Sandwich Terns and 18 European Herring Gulls and a single male White (Pied) Wagtail.

Despite the long drive and the rough weather it was more than worth the few hours visit. I will definitely return this place for a few days seawatching.

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