Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Fabulous Sunday Birding - Radipole RSPB Reserve with an Unsung Birding Celebtrity

Back home from Saturday's successful twitch for the love dove, a text and up at 4.30am the following day. The text was from an ex-pupil of mine from over 20 years ago. Jason Oliver had been one of the best teenage birders back in the 80s but had lapsed because I flushed a red breasted goose. Well, that's how I'll say it but other things probaby caused his birding passion to demise; girls probably and the fact that his best friend had the same goose tattoed onto his forearm! Maybe it was also becuase I didn't just flush it once that fateful dipping day but twice. I, Alex 'the Bear' and Richard saw the bird. Jason didn't. I popped my head up and off they went. Refound but flushed again as we came around a sea wall too close to the flock we hadn't known were there. Long time ago.

Alex, Jason and Richard were pupils at Coppice High School in Wolverhampton and very keen members of the YOC [Young Ornithologists Club]. So keen were they as birders that local experts used to take them birding all over the country and the adventures they had deserve a book. Hurricanes on Scilly, sleeping in the Coastguards Hotel at Cley and birds that many are blocked by now - little whimbrel anyone? They had it on their lists. These were the schoolboys who pointed out a strange duck to John 'Black Country' Holian, who noticed that although scaup like it wasn't quite right and so the first lesser scaup for Europe was found.

Jason had asked whether I wanted to see the long-billed dowitcher that seems to be a permanent fixture at Lodmoor RSPB reserve in Dorset. I'm back!!! And so we were off; me accepting another carbon twitch.

Lodmoor but no sign of the dowitcher on a walk and search around the whole reserve. A small flock of 13 dunlin, a couple of blackwits, a few cettis calling and a number of year ticks all seen and listed.

Off to Radipole and the easily seen mediterranean gulls on the car park and on the water outside the superb RSPB visitor's Centre. Met Gwynne and Michael, Dan and Tony, RSPB staff whose friendliness was appreciated. Remembered how fabulous everyone had been last year at Radipole and so very helpful. Wonderful people at a wonderful RSPB reserve. One of my favourites last year and improving all the time.

Jason and I decided to go to Portland Bill, stopping at Ferrybridge on the way. 14 Med' gulls, a black brant and a couple of hybrid Brant/brents amongst the brent flock but no waders here. Very high tide, where were they all?

Portland Bill, usual welcome from Martin Cade and then a few books bought from the Portland Bill bookshop, my favourite bookshop as it makes money for the obs. 2 black redstarts down by the lighthouse, the usual irds off the Bill, gannets, shags, guillemot, razorbills but where were the fulmars?

Back to Lodmoor after lunch in the cafe and a meeting with Nick Quintrell, the brilliant assistant at Lodmoor and Radipole and a superb RSPB volunteer, Will Scott.

Will Scott, me, Jason Oliver and Nick Quintrell
Chatting and looking at the dunlin I tapped Jason on the shoulder, not wanting to interrupt Nick's conversation with the news that the dowitcher had just come out from behind a bush and was probing mud not 30 yards in front of us. Great views of a Yankee and a lifer for Jason. Perfect.

Goodbyes and a quick trip to Middlebeare gave we two a flock of around 700 black-tailed godwits, a couple of little egrets but little else. Very quiet with the tide receeding.

To Arne and a short walk into the woods to see a tawny owl roosting above us in a pine tree. Always good to see a tawny in daylight hours. Down to the shore going past the large field sown with finch attracting crops, past a herd of maybe one hundred very close sika nd then views over Poole Harbour with the most mud exposed tha i can remember seeing. Waders aplenty including godwits, knot, redshank, oystercatcher and dunlins; red-breasted meragnsers on the water.

So, with darkness falling back to the car and back home. A fabulous birding day with fabulous company and superb RSPB reserves visited.

All the very best everyone,



  1. Hi Prez,

    Thanks for a fantastic day on Sunday, it was great to see you again after all those years, your wealth of information and enthusiasm was a breathe of fresh air!

    Sorry I couldn't give you any more past memories, but hey lets hope to make some more.

    Hope to catch up again very soon.

    Take care


  2. be good to get out and make a few more memories for the forthcoming publication.
    Steve Allcott

  3. Jas' and Ste' - the biggest thrill of the weekend of the weekend for me was seeing you two. Keep lifting those bins!

  4. we will all lift em together one day soon.

  5. Greetings from Southern California :-)

    I added myself to follow your blog. You're more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you so choose too.

    God bless you and have a great day.


  6. Thanks Ron.

    Look forward to seeing your blog.

    all the very best,