November 2021

Monday 29th. A lovely Tequila Sunrise from the office window ….

Even though autumn passage has been a thing of the past for much of the month things don’t stand entirely still and birding from the garden brought an increase in Pied Wagtail numbers to 23, having been scarce recently, and an influx of at least 7 Song Thrushes.

Sunday 28th. A late morning visit to Ferrybridge in order to visit the Crab Café to see what they had to say for themselves coincided with some decent wader-watching light, in which we identified a Knot, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Little Egrets among the usual Med. Gulls, Dunlin, Turnstones and Ringed Plover. The Crab Café looks very nice – mostly fish but a very good selection and very tempting. We’ll be back, as someone once famously said.

Wednesday 24th. With the cold NE wind of the last few days having fallen away it seemed a good idea to walk from Langton Herring to Rodden Hive, even though it was overcast with some light drizzle, unlike Saturday when it was bright and sunny. Waterfowl included 850 Wigeon, 300 Pintail, 175 Teal, 166 Mute Swans, 480 Canada Geese, 286 Brent Geese, 20 Shoveler, 16 Barnacle Geese and 3 Shelduck, while waders were represented by 130 Lapwings, 22 Redshanks and an Oystercatcher. Sundry other bits and pieces included a very late Swallow, Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler calling from the wind-twisted coastal scrub, a Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Egrets and an adult male Marsh Harrier. There was a good deal of coming and going whilst I was there and substantial numbers of wildfowl were tucked away around the corner towards Abbotsbury, so my totals were doubtless just a sample of the birds using the western end of The Fleet.

Rodden Hive from just outside Langton Herring

Sunday 21st. A sudden change to a stiff northerly wind brought the first single-figure daily maximum since mid-April, whipping up the white horses in Portland harbour as we waited for our car to charge, to the obvious delight of the yachters skimming about offshore. As for our moths, it looks like a Yellow-line Quaker and a Rusty-dot Pearl will share the honour of being last of the year, given the prognosis of overnight frost and wintry showers in the forecast.

In the afternoon we went to church! Not for religious reasons, but to hear a concert performed by the all-female Trio Klein, with pieces from Sibelius, Strauss, the Polish composer Penderecki, Bach and Klein played on violin, viola and cello. It is not something I have tried before but was thoroughly excellent. We seem to be discovering small events like this that add up to a vibrant Dorset arts scene, rather than relying on the Marlowe in Canterbury most of the time.

Saturday 20th. Well, having been on the verge of giving up on moths for the year last night turned up two new for the year in Mottled Umber and Red-green Carpet, plus Double-striped Pug, Beaded Chestnut, December Moth, a very late White-point and 4 Rusty-dot Pearls.

We decided to take a walk from the Elm Tree in Langton Herring down to Rodden Hive and it was bright, mild, calm and devoid of traffic noise, just the occasional call from a Raven and frequent whistles and trills from Wigeon and Teal on The Fleet, though a noisy flock of Redshanks did their best to break up the tranquility.

Mottled Umber

Wednesday 17th. Moths have kept ticking along, unlike most Novembers that have usually brought the season to an end by now, and December Moth was new for the year on Monday night (macro species #246 for the year so far). Birding from the cottage was quiet, but still turned up Grey Wagtail, 12 Med. Gulls and a Brambling. However, that turned out to be the commentator’s curse, with nothing except for a couple of caddis flies in the moth trap this morning and little of avian interest apart from the local Grey Wagtail and an excellent 22 Yellowhammers, feeding in their usual spot by the roadside hedgerow.  

Monday 15th The contents of the moth trap on Sunday included our first Dark Chestnut for Dorset, but there were only four moths this morning. However, an hour birding from the garden turned up 33 species, including 14 Yellowhammers, feeding in the field by the roadside hedge, a Grey Wagtail, 3 Song Thrushes and 2 Fieldfares. Our new porch was finished on Friday and we are very pleased with it, even if so far as some inhabitants of the house are concerned, it is more or less a sophisticated and expensive cat flap …..

Thursday 11th. It was drizzly, mild and calm when we returned from a show of New York street dance at Weymouth College last night and the promise of a good moth night came up with the best November catch we’ve had since starting in June 2015, with a total of 24 moths of 12 species. Winter Moth was new for the year, Angles Shades passed the hundred mark for the year and other notables included two Radford’s Flame Shoulders, four Rusty-dot Pearls and the small but very smart Caloptilia stigmatella. It was also a beautifully atmospheric sunrise …

Sunrise over the old railway

Wednesday 10th. Despite a benign forecast, drizzle was falling as I got the moth trap in and its contents were again nothing to shout about with the exception of yesterday’s Radford’s Flame Shoulder and first November records of Angle Shades and Feathered Ranunculus. Lighthouse Windows turned up as promised to begin the installation of our new porch, so much banging and gouging was the order of the morning.

Although our Med. Gull flock has been absent over the last few days it was predictable that they would show up again as the weather had deteriorated and 18 were having a wash and brush-up around 10.

Monday 8th. We haven’t yet drawn a blank in our mothing efforts so far this month, but have come close a few times. Last night’s haul amounted to a Feathered Thorn and a Yellow-line Quaker. The main highlight of an hour birding from the garden was a Brambling that flew over just as I was giving up. A Chiffchaff was still present, vaguely associating with a bird flock that included 12 Long-tailed Tits, a Bullfinch and 9 Blue Tits. The rest of the day was increasingly dull with some drizzle in the afternoon, but it was very mild, around 13°C.

Saturday 6th. A busy day. Karen went off to Dorchester to get her hair done, after which I went to Portesham to get my flu jab (in my left arm to balance up the Covid booster that I had in my right arm yesterday. Then it was off to Upwey for the train to Poole and a performance of Matthew Bourne’s Midnight Bell at Poole Lighthouse. It is the story of several characters set in 1930s Soho, in particular the bar of the title name and reminded me to some extent of Jasmin Vardimon’s Park, set in an urban park, which we saw at the Marlowe several years ago. Both were memorably excellent.

Friday 5th. An hour outside in bright, calm conditions was fairly slow going, but 3 Fieldfares and a Lapwing were new for the garden list, which has now reached 78. Despite a light frost on the car first thing a Red Admiral was flitting about as it warmed up in some lovely sunshine.

Thursday 4th You just know it’s going to be a weird sort of day when you look out of the upstairs window and see a bunch of sheep in the garden. It got even weirder when we looked again about 10 minutes later, having messaged Martin to see if he knew who they might belong to, and found they had disappeared. Both of us resisted the obvious temptation to count them, so we couldn’t have gone to sleep ….

Tuesday 2nd. After a cold night there were only four moths in the trap, but at least it was possible to try, the rain and gales of the last few days having gone somewhere else. The ensuing sunny and calm morning was perfect for mowing the lawn and playing Genie on the Roof ………

Monday 1st. With four days of thoroughly unpleasant weather out of the way, this morning was bright with little more than a brisk W breeze. An hour’s birding from the cottage was notable for a flyover Tree Sparrow, a party of 4 Cormorants flying up the valley, 25 Med. Gulls, a Little Egret and a huge female Sparrowhawk that was teasing a pair of Jays along the fence line.

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