Saturday 25 October 2014

Richard`s Pipit and a welcome to Dorset!

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!

                                Brents, The Fleets

                                East Fleet

                                The old church, Fleet

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.

                                "Bloody horsey types"

                                Hardy Monument, west Dorset


  1. Unfortunately Paul, that stupid woman's comments are also becoming quite common on one or two birdwatchers blogs as well. Some birdwatchers just can't accept dogs in the countryside can go hand in hand with sensible birdwatching but as the owner of two free running Jackos I know that's not true.

  2. Thanks Derek, there certainly is a degree of intolerance from some folks out there in the countryside towards dogs. Good to hear your Jacks are running well up on the island. All the best, Paul

  3. Paul, while I have no wish to cause an argument I feel I must redress the balance a little here. It has long been known that dogs cause disturbance to nesting ground birds as well as our native reptiles, so it's not just 'some folks' who feel this way. The detrimental effects of dog walkers are well documented, here are a few examples to name but a few:

    Please don't get me wrong, I don't hate dogs, far from it. I grew up with many as family pets and my little boy is keen to have one so I will no doubt have to bite the bullet and get one for him at some point but under no circumstances will it EVER be allowed to go birding or reptile watching with me. From my experience the majority of dog walkers have little or no respect for wildlife welfare or other people for that matter - we don't all enjoy having a wet muddy dog jump up on us while we are out for a walk! Unfortunately that happens far too often though and rarely with an apology from the owner. Your dog or dogs may be impeccably behaved and perhaps properly trained but unfortunately, with dog walkers, the majority spoil it for the minority.

  4. No, while I love a good debate I fully endorse your concerns about dogs and the detrimental effects they can have on wildlife (particularly when in large numbers, such as with professional dog-walkers), and there are certain sensitive sites that I would never take my dog. As for the attitude of some dog owners, once again I have to agree, some of them are a joke with their out of control mutts, although whether or not they are in the majority is open to conjecture. As my old dog trainer used to say, "there are few un-trainable dogs but plenty of un-trainable owners". But like it or not walking the dog is as much a pleasure for some people as horse riding, birding or rambling and somehow, as our countryside comes under ever more pressure, all of us have a responsibility to respect our fellow users and the wildlife within. Good birding, and I can highly recommend a Border Terrier as a great family dog for your lad!