I have never been on one of the RSPB Stourbridge field trips, however, following some encouragement, in late September I joined them as they went to Portland Bill and Lodmoor RSPB.
Following some banter on the coach, we arrived in the bill car park, and as we had picked up some news from twitter we headed straight up the hill to the area where a Wryneck had been found!
Masses upon masses of Hirundines were everywhere, Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and a single Grey Wagtail flew over south, so there was certainly plenty of vismig! But, having dipped on Wryneck many times in the past, I was keen to get there as soon as possible. I was in so much of a rush that even a Whinchat perched on a fenceline was almost ignored as the crowd appeared on the track opposite us!
It felt like an age to cover the fields to them, but as soon as we did I saw what looked like a Wryneck as it flicked past me and behind a hedge, yet no-one was looking. Surely that wasn't it!
A quick question later, and having learnt that they hadn't seen it for a while I went to check out the bird I saw. A short walk later, and there, perched atop a hedge, with a backdrop of the English channel was a stunning WRYNECK! I had lost my "Virjinxity"!
Over the next 30 minutes, the views slowly got better and better, and as people left, the bird became more confiding, and eventually, with only a small group of people, the bird landed on the fenceline adjacent to us and started feeding from the track! Although invisible when on the deck, the bird often flew up onto the adjacent fenceline and hedge, giving absolutely amazing views to all present!
I have dipped so many Wryneck in the past, and so to finally catch up with one put a huge smile on my face, and it was with regret I left the bird to look for another scarcity.
It was clear that overnight there had been a 'significant' (at least by my standards) fall of Chiffchaffs around Portland, and in the Observatory garden alone there were at least 80. Counts from the Ob's staff suggested the actual total was closer to 200! In this fall of 'Phyloscs' a Yellow-Browed Warbler had been located, but it was being very elusive in the dense vegetation, which was literally dripping in birds! Chiffchaffs were flycatching everywhere, and these were joined by two birds that are more akin to the behaviour, as two Spotted Flycatcher perched sentinel over the 'alive' garden.
Most people had given up with the YBW when it hadn't shown for a good hour and a half. However I soldiered on, and just as a group of birder rounded the corner from the Ob's car park, an absolutely stunning bright Yellow-Browed Warbler flitted up above the fenceline!
Calling over the crowd, only 1 got onto the bird, before it disappeared back into the bushes, but despite only being on view for around 15 seconds, as always with these delightful leaf warblers, it was well worth the wait!
With the time now running out, I decided on a quick look out to sea, where 3 Mediterranean Gulls were flying about and a Kittiwake flew past. A Yellow-legged Gull landed on a post outside the cafe, but had flew off by the time I had gotten my camera out.
In the old quarry, the Little Owl was showing nicely to the assembled crowd!
Moving onto Lodmoor RSPB, our first notable sighting was when this stunning little thing flicked up next to us:
A Clouded Yellow!
Again, this had become another of my bogeys, and despite having seen them before, they had steadfastly refused to land. But this one was different, and gave us stunningly intimate views as it perched on roadside vegetation!
Moving onto the pool, 2 Spoonbills were very quickly located (how could you miss them?!) and gave a great performance as they fed constantly in the shallow water! Not something you expect a Spoonbill to be doing.
A small selection of Waders were present, with Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe and Ruff all being present. Walking to the opposite end of the flashes (so I could view the gull flock of course!) I found an early Pintail roosting on the edge of the water. But my mind soon wondered and my reason for walking here was obvious, and I was soon seeing countless Mediterranean Gulls flying into the increasing Gull flock!
All ages were present, and great views were had of all!