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Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PETE HACK­ETT

WHILE THE ISLE of Port­land is recog­nised as one of the top bird­ing hotspots dur­ing pe­ri­ods of mi­gra­tion, it is the south­ern half of the is­land from South­well to the bill tip which gets the lion’s share of at­ten­tion. For many years in the past, the Ob­ser­va­tory record­ing area only stretched as far as South­well but to­day, the whole of Port­land, as far as Fer­ry­bridge on the Ch­e­sil Beach, now comes within it. So, we’ll take a look around the north of the is­land en­com­pass­ing Verne Com­mon and Port­land Cas­tle. The Royal Naval Ceme­tery over­looks Port­land Har­bour, while the for­mer Verne Prison is at the sum­mit. In parts, the area looks harsh. Rugged lime­stone cliffs with bor­der­ing fields and, what has now be­come, over­grown ar­eas of scrub and trees. Pere­grine and Raven breed on the cliffs, to­gether with large num­bers of Jack­daws. The scrub below holds breed­ing war­blers and at­tracts mi­grants and the ceme­tery trees at­tract fly­catch­ers, with Pal­las’s and Yel­low-browed War­blers in re­cent years, and Nightin­gale has bred. Red-backed Shrike, Golden Ori­ole and Or­tolan Bunting have also put in ap­pear­ances. The nearby Port­land Cas­tle gar­dens is worth check­ing dur­ing spring and au­tumn mi­gra­tion – it’s one of the best lo­ca­tions on Port­land for Wood War­bler and Pied Fly­catcher in spring, and Yel­low­browed War­bler in the late au­tumn. Check fields near the Naval Ceme­tery for Stonechat, Lin­net, Red­start, Whin­chat, Wheatear and wag­tails at pas­sage pe­ri­ods.

1Fol­low the path to­wards the Naval Ceme­tery and be­yond. Breed­ing birds in­clude Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Wil­low War­bler, Chif­fchaff, Black­cap, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit and Song Thrush. Keep an eye on the sky for pas­sage Os­prey.

2Check the trees around Port­land Cas­tle dur­ing spring and au­tumn mi­gra­tions. Black Red­start is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the area.

3Large ar­eas of the har­bour can be viewed, best in win­ter for divers, grebes, Eider, Vel­vet Scoter and Red-breasted Mer­ganser. Gales may blow in Leach’s Pe­trel, Sabine’s Gull, skuas and Gan­net.

4Best to visit dur­ing spring or au­tumn mi­gra­tion

Black Red­start Raven

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