Friday - 0800hrs - Lade - A flock of 300 Brents cut across the Peninsula braying loudly. Over the pits the only migrant of note were two Swallows briefly over south lake.
Chichester Gravel Pits, Sussex - 1300hrs - En-route to Dorset for a weekend away with family we had a wander around the local gravel pits where all the expected wildfowl were noted on a series of fishing lakes. A couple of large passerine flocks held good numbers of tits, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and at least two Treecreepers, while Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers called from the reedbeds. Also noted two Kingfishers, Grey Wagtail, Jay, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
Chilfrome, Dorset - Tawny Owls were vocal throughout the night as juvenile birds were on the move searching for a territory.
Saturday - Chickeral, Dorset - warm, dry and sunny - 1000hrs - We did a circular walk in Moonfleet country this morning with Mrs PT`s side of the family, from East Fleet church where a large passerine flock in the churchyard included many Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. On The Fleet hundreds of Brents and Wigeons covered the water, plus four Red-breasted Mergansers, two Scaup, six Pintails and two Common Scoters. Along the margins were a scattering of Redshanks, Curlews and Dunlins. The arable fields beside The Fleet were alive with grounded migrants, mostly Skylarks, Mipits, Linnets and Reed Buntings, but also a few Yammers and alba wagtails. Whilst scanning through I heard an unfamiliar `schreep` call and locked onto a large pipit which landed on a bare patch of earth. Although it has been a few years since I`ve heard this call there was no mistaking the large thrush-like pipit before me - a Richard`s Pipit! I watched it for a couple of minutes before it was disturbed by a Jackdaw and headed west out of sight.
There then ensued an extraordinary encounter with a woman on horse back from Sea Barn Farm who began to berate our group for not having the dogs on leads, adjacent to a field that was used for horse hacking, even though there were none to be seen. Bearing in mind we were on a designated public footpath, and all three dogs (Barney included) were under close control (having been trained to ignore stock) her attitude was unbelievable. When my brother-in-law (old hippy social worker type) attempted to calm her down she went into a rant with much effin and blindin and un lady-like language - if that`d been a bloke he`d have been dragged off the nag and given a jolly good thrashing! Bloody stuck up horsey types, they really piss me off, and it ruined a fine walk - what a great welcome to Dorset!
Hardy Monument - Away from the old horsey bag on the coast we stopped off on the way back to Chilfrome at the Hardy (Nelson`s captain on the Victory, not the wordy one) Monument high up on the downs. The panorama was breathtaking with views across The Fleets, the Isle of Portland and even the distant western end of the Isle of Wight. A wander round delivered plenty of Ravens and Buzzards and Roe Deer grazing in the fields below.
An afternoon walk along the river Frome delivered more Buzzards, Ravens, Kingfisher, Bullfinch and Water Rail.