Thursday, 19 March 2020

West Bay

In the past I've said disparaging things about West Bay, and could never see myself doing much birding there. However, my view has changed a bit. In the few years we've lived nearby I've come to see the place with a less snobbish eye, and even the tackier aspects have somehow endeared themselves. Recently I've made an effort to investigate the birding potential too. Snagging a few Black Redstarts last autumn certainly did no harm, and this year I've been trying to suss the various habitats. This afternoon I had another go...

Because West Bay is a small harbour village rather than a remote beach, there are people. Sometimes lots of them. Strolling along it was evident that nobody else was toting bins and a camera, and I could tell from the earnest faces and solemn tones that people's thoughts and conversations were largely focused on expanding their currently woeful stock of bog rolls, and suchlike. Hand sanitiser was far from my mind (in my left coat pocket in fact) as I mooched about, initially seeing not much. Mind you, to be fair I had already seen a nice bird before getting among the local populace. The other day I spied this wet area out in the middle of the valley, and thought it looked good for a Little Ringed Plover perhaps. The first thing I did this afternoon was scope it from afar. No LRPs, but there was a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Redshanks. Smart. Later on I was able to get a bit closer and take photos, and courtesy of Twitter (and Mark Golley) I learned that it was a moulting islandica Blackwit...

I've no idea how scarce or otherwise is a Blackwit in West Bay, but I certainly enjoyed it.

With the chilly wind coming from a northerly quarter I recalled that 4 Black Redstarts had found the shelter of the West Cliffs to their liking in similar conditions last year, and went for a look. Seven Wheatears! Very nice. I spent ages with them, viewing from below initially, and then discovering that you can get alongside them via the cliff path. Some popped up on to the clifftop above too. Wheatears are such good value...

Viewed from below...
...and from the side...
This shot isn't pin-sharp, but I like the 'ghost' shadow Wheatear in the background.
...and even from above.
On the clifftop

Finally I worked my way back down into the valley and out onto the wet fields beside the river. Initially there was nothing much to see, and then out of nowhere a Wheatear flew past me. A quick scan revealed five, presumably new arrivals. They were dead flighty, and seemed intent on moving quickly through, but then three alighted together on the bank of the river, and I got my favourite two photos of the day...

Pausing briefly...
Sleek and flighty. This lovely Wheatear might be stationary, but clearly is not going to be hanging around.

So, 12 fabulous Wheatears and a smart Blackwit. Well chuffed. If you read this through with a heart full of unbounded joy and barely a thought of deadly viruses, then I am pleased. That's what NQS is for.

4 comments:

  1. Usually a few Rock pipits around WB too Gavin.

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    1. Thanks Champ, yep, seen Rock Pipit there before - sometimes really tame too - but for some reason not yesterday...

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  2. Replies
    1. You do? [insert 'irony' emoji]

      Seriously, aren't they brilliant though?! Especially these March jobs; the males are just immaculate. A Dorset Black-eared would be right up there on my 'Dream Find' short-list...

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