Saturday 15 May 2021

The Beach

I clearly remember the first time I went to Cogden beach. Not a birding visit, it was for a barbecue with friends. As we walked down from the car park I heard a Lesser Whitethroat rattling away in the scrub, and then a burst of Cetti's Warbler. Arriving at the beach, my curiosity led me to the reedbed. It was further away than I realised, and I recall thinking how horrible the fine shingle was, what a chore it would be to walk any distance on it. Yuk. Imagine birding here...

Yesterday evening I was in dire need of a chill, and headed straight for Cogden. Chore? The shingle? Not for a second. After a short time poking about the fields and hedgerows I was straight down the beach. Eagerly, I might add. The weather has not been kind just recently, and I had guessed there would be very few birds. Correctly. One Spot Fly in the hedges and two Wheatears on the beach...

Spotted Flycatcher

The time is 20:15, it's overcast, and the camera is plonked on a pile of shingle for stability!

I was there again early this morning. Half an hour of wind-blown drizzle was enough. Too much, actually. It drove me home for a pre-breakfast nocmig review. A flock of Ringed Plovers was the stand-out highlight, but most of the night was a soggy washout.

This afternoon, back down the beach once more. I walked as far as the West Bex Mere, which with all the rainfall is again a mere. No Black-winged Stilts or anything, but on the beach...

...a Wheatear

And that was it. Nothing else of note. I'm sure there are plenty of other spots which would have given me more birds, but I didn't really want that. I wanted a walk on the beach. On the fine, laborious shingle. A trudge. A plod. More and more I am finding that birding is not just about seeing birds.

Cogden beach this afternoon, looking east.

Chesil Beach runs from West Bay to Portland. The Cogden bit is my favourite and, as far as I'm aware, the most vegetated. There are always small birds, even if only Linnets or the odd Reed Bunting, but I'm sure the total list of birds seen on, or from, the Cogden and West Bex shingle is huge and enviable. Just in my brief acquaintance it has held Short-toed Lark, Stone-curlew and the recent Tawny Pipit. From it I've seen Laughing, Caspian and Glaucous Gulls, and even a Wryneck. That lot will barely scratch the surface of its rich bounty though. But that's just the birds.

In addition to birds there is the solitude, the beauty, the incessant, rolling surf. The beach is therapy.


  1. You can't believe how much I miss the sea and a good trudge along Chesil sounds like heaven.

    1. Hopefully not long until you'll be able to get annoying little stones down your boots again...😊