Dorset Walks

Walks on Portland - wildlife highlights for 2019

last year's walks . . .

Friday March 15th
Eastcliffs

Parking in Southwell, the most southerly village in Dorset, we walked down to the cliff path and turned south towards the Bill. We were hoping to see early migrants such as Wheatears but at first the only small birds to be seen were the resident Rock Pipits. Out at sea there was more going on with Fulmars and Gannets amongst the gulls and Cormorants. At our feet the cliffs were covered in new growth of a huge variety of plants, with an equally diverse lichen flora on the rocks.

As we approached the crane opposite Culverwell a Peregrine flew past carrying a pigeon. We turned and followed its path back to Southwell but by the time we got to its nest-site the pigeon was long-gone. We did find the Raven's nest though with the female incubating and the male patrolling incessantly. Finally, walking back up the path to the road we found our migrants - a group of three freshly-arrived Chiffchaffs.

The day's list:
peregrine, raven, gannet, fulmar, rock pipit, chiffchaff, scurvy grass, portland rock sea-lavender, buckshorn plantain, thrift, rock samphire, golden samphire, wallflower, white stonecrop, alexanders, wild carrot, red valerian, lichen Xanthoria parietina, lichen Caloplaca aurantia, lichen Aspicilia calcarea, lichen Verrucaria nigrescens

Friday March 8th
Admiralty Quarries - Verne Ditch

After checking out the wallabies at Fancy's Farm for any joeys, we walked through Admiralty Quarries looking for any early Wheatears. We stopped off at a couple of likely Adder locations but neither the Wheatears nor the Adders were anywhere to be seen.

Finding ourselves stood at the base of Nicodemus' Knob looking out over the port we noticed a path leading north through the bushes at the base of the Verne Citadel. Not having explored thus path for many years we followed it as far as we could until it terminated at the port's boundary fence. The damp, sheltered conditions here were ideal for mosses.

The day's list:
kestrel, buzzard, wren, dunnock, banded snail, field speedwell, common feather-moss, neat feather-moss

Friday March 1st
Chesil Cove

After Monday's bryophyte course I decided to take the group down to the path under the Westcliffs to look for liverworts in the springs.

Not only fid we find the liverwort I was looking for but we also found several newts in one of the tiny ponds amongst the rocks. On the way back the Black Redstart popped up on a roof in Chiswell.

The day's list:
kestrel, buzzard, raven, rock pipit, black redstart, stonechat, palmate newt, peacock, red valerian, allium spp, green hellebore, scurvy grass, great horsetail, endive pellia (liverwort), lichen Aspicilia calcarea

Friday February 22nd
Kingbarrow - Admiralty - Withies Croft Quarries

Today we had that uniquely Portland combination of fog and strong wind. In the shelter of Kingbarrow conditions were a bit warmer but birds were difficult to find in the murky weather.

So we took the opportunity to explore the old tramways, tunnels and bridges in the quarries. We also looked at the ancient tree bowls, 130 million year old algal deposits.

The day's list:
kestrel, stock dove, raven, meadow pipit, great spotted woodpecker

Friday February 15th
Grove Point - Yeolands Quarry

In complete contrast to last week we enjoyed some gorgeous spring weather this morning along the cliff-top path above East Weares and Penn's Weare.

As well as the expected Fulmars (at least five in the end) we had great views of a pair of Peregrines hunting pigeons. We were pleased to see the British Primitive Goats still present, or six of them anyway.

The day's list:
kestrel, peregrine, stock dove, chaffinch, goldfinch, raven, fulmar, marmalade hoverfly, unidentified hoverfly, red admiral(?)
wallflower, pellitory-of-the-wall, lesser celandine, dandelion, alexanders, rosemary

Friday February 8th
Verne Naval Cemetery

Today we had to cope with a southerly gale and heavy showers so we hid under the shelter of the Verne Citadel and walked past the cemetery to the edge of Portland Port.

Our first sighting was very unexpected - a dead baby Common Shrew! Then a Kestrel landed on the path right in front of us closely followed by a distant sighting of the Peregrine up on the cliffs (the photo on the right is from a couple of years ago).

The day's list:
birds:
kestrel, peregrine, stock dove
mammals: common shrew
ships: RFA Argus, RFA Tideforce, RFA Lyme Bay, ex-RFA Sir Tristram, RMS St Helena, CS Sovereign

Friday February 1st
Church Ope Cove

On a very rare snowy day on Portland we decided to avoid the bitter northerly wind and pay Church Ope Cove a visit. We took the opportunity of making a detour round to see Penn's Bath and then walked down the steps to look at the even more ancient spring.

Birds were very quiet around the trees but offshore there were hundreds of auks flying north along with a few Gannets and Fulmars. Walking back to the car park we did see a few more birds, mostly Chaffinches and Redwings plus a lone Blackcap.

Over coffee back at the hotel we were glad we had a window seat as hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares were streaming overhead looking for any grassy areas to feed on.

The day's list:
stonechat, fieldfare, redwing, chaffinch, blackcap, rock pipit, guillemot/razorbill, gannet, fulmar
tuberous comfrey, laurestinus, Japanese spindle, Hebe, sea beet, crystal brain fungus, common jelly spot Dacrymyces stillatus

Friday January 25th
Grove Stadium

Another successful search today but as we were only looking for a Victorian drain cover perhaps not so remarkable as last week. While we were there we checked out the Stadium and the Engine Sheds and then went to look for the goats on the East Weares. We didn't see them but we did find a Grey Squirrel, a rare sighting on North Portland.

The day's list
buzzard, kestrel, sparrowhawk, pheasant, redwing, grey squirrel
shepherd's purse, sweet violet, annual mercury, coral spot, silverleaf fungus Chondrostereum purpureum

Friday January 18th
Chesil Cove

A rare weather combination today - a cold southerly wind. So to escape from this we decided to visit Chesil Beach to see if we could find one of the Sea Beans that have been recorded from many parts of the coast recently. Remarkably, that is exactly what we found, along with all sorts of other fascinating finds. The one that had us most stumped was a flat skull with a long spine attached. After a great deal of online research this turned out to be a Cormorant.

The day's list
Birds (live):
cormorant, fulmar, black redstart, pied wagtail, rock pipit
Birds (dead): cormorant, guillemot, herring gull
Other Vertebrates: dolphin vertebra(?), thornback ray egg case, blonde ray egg case Invertebrates: cuttlefish, whelk eggs, pink sea fan, mussel
Plants: kelp, bladderwrack, sea bean, marram grass, pine cone

Friday January 11th
Portland Castle

A walk round an area we don't often visit today at the time of year when this corner of Portland Harbour can be very productive. This morning it was very quiet bird-wise but we did get some very close views of a flock of Mergansers and a more disrant view of a Black-necked Grebe. And it's not everyday you get to see a Sherman tank!

The day's list:
buzzard, red-breasted merganser, black-necked grebe, cormorant, shag, chaffinch, dunnock, kestrel

Friday January 4th
Jordan - Inmosthay

Another beautifully calm and sunny day but much colder than last week. Parking opposite St Georges Church we walked east into Jordan Quarry and had a look at the entrance to the tunnels that are planned to host the updated Jurassica/Memo development.

With very few birds about we continued into the working Inmosthay Quarry and looked at the fossil and mineral specimens left by the quarry company at the edge of the footpath. Inside a cast left by an ammonite was this collection of beautifully coloured crystals, presumably calcite.

The day's list:
buzzard, stock dove, chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, robin, collared dove, wren, kestrel

Full list of species seen since 2005

Birds (152 species)

Great Northern Diver
Black-throated Diver
Red-throated Diver
Little Grebe
Great-crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Storm Petrel
Leach's Petrel
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Balearic Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
CORY'S SHEARWATER
Gannet
Shag
Cormorant
Glossy Ibis
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Dark-bellied Brent Goose
Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Black Brant
Red-breasted Goose
Mute Swan
Mallard
Teal
Shoveler
Wigeon
Pintail
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter
Goldeneye
Eider
Red-breasted Merganser
Goosander
Long-tailed Duck
Red Kite
Marsh Harrier
Buzzard
Merlin
Kestrel
Peregrine
Sparrowhawk
Great Skua
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
ICELAND GULL
Herring Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Little Gull
Kittiwake
Curlew
Oystercatcher
Woodcock
Snipe
Jacksnipe
Bar-tailed Godwit
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER
Redshank
Lapwing
Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Ringed Plover
Ruff
Purple Sandpiper
Dunlin
Curlew Sandpiper
Sanderling
Knot
Turnstone
Pheasant
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
BRÜNNICH'S GUILLEMOT
BLACK GUILLEMOT
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Barn Owl
Little Owl
Short-eared Owl
HOOPOE
WRYNECK
Skylark
Kingfisher
Swift
PALLID SWIFT
Swallow
House Martin
Sand Martin
WOODCHAT SHRIKE
RED-BACKED SHRIKE
Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Rock Pipit
Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Wren
Dunnock
Grasshopper Warbler (heard)
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Garden Warbler
Blackcap
Whitehroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Chiffchaff
Willow Warbler
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER
Goldcrest
Firecrest
Spotted Flycatcher
Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Stonechat
Whinchat
Robin
Wheatear
Redstart
Black Redstart
White-spotted Bluethroat
Blackbird
Ring Ouzel
Fieldfare
Redwing
Song Thrush
Starling
ROSY STARLING
Rook
Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Raven
Magpie
Jay
House Sparrow
Linnet
Siskin
Redpoll
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Bullfinch
Greenfinch
Crossbill
Yellowhammer
Snow Bunting


Mammals (10 species)

British Primitive Goat
Common Shrew
Grey Squirrel
Brown Rat
Oryctolagus cuniculus
Brown Hare
Red Fox
Roe Deer (prints)
Grey Seal
Bottle-nosed Dolphin


Reptiles (4 species)

Common Lizard
Wall Lizard
Slow-worm
Adder


Amphibians (2 species)

Common Frog
Common Toad


Fossils (6 species)

Belemnite
Lopha gregarea
Nucleolites clunicularis
(sea urchin)
Titanites giganteus (ammonite)
Trigonia gibbosa (oss's head)
Butterflies (28 species)

Adonis Blue
Chalkhill Blue
Clouded Yellow
Comma
Common Blue
Dingy Skipper
Gatekeeper
Grayling
Green-veined White
Holly Blue
Large White
Large Skipper
Lulworth Skipper
Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Painted Lady
Peacock
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Silver-studded Blue
Small Blue
Small Copper
Small Heath
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Speckled Wood
Wall


Moths (34 species)

Brown-tail
Cinnabar
Clay
Cream-spot Tiger
Crescent Plume-moth
Dark Arches
Diamondback Moth
Forester
Green Longhorn Moth (Adela reaumurella)
Heart and Club
Heart and Dart
Jersey Tiger
Knot Grass
L-album Wainscot
Large Yellow Underwing
Lesser Yellow Underwing
Light Brocade
Marbled Minor
Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata
Mother Shipton
Oak Eggar
Poplar Hawk-moth
Portland Riband Wave
Privet Hawkmoth
Scarlet Tiger
Shuttle-shaped Dart
Silver Y
Six-spot Burnet
Speckled Yellow
Treble Lines
Vine's Rustic
White Ermine
White-point
Yellow Shell

Other Insects (18 species)

Horse-chestnut Scale Insect
7-spot Ladybird
Bloody-nosed Beetle
Dark Bush-cricket
Drone-fly
Green Shield-bug
Ground Beetle
Harlequin Ladybird
Honey Bee
Ivy Bee
Meadow Grasshopper
Oil Beetle
Roesel's Bush-cricket
Rose Chafer
Speckled Bush-cricket
Summer Chafer
Swollen-thighed Beetle
Volucella zonaria


Arachnids (5 species)

Harvestman
Garden Cross Spider
House Spider
Nursery-web Spider
Wasp Spider


Marine Life (32 species)

Sea Bean Entada gigas
Thornback Ray (egg-case)
Blonde Ray (egg-case)
Garfish
Triggerfish
Greater Spotted Dogfish
Lesser Spotted Dogfish
Goose Barnacle
Spider Crab
Edible Crab
Portugese Man o' War
Hydroid
Whelk
Cuttlefish
Squid
Blue-rayed Limpet
Flat Winkle
Rough Winkle
Toothed Topshell
Beadlet Anemone
Snakelocks Anemone
Seasquirt
Dead Man's Fingers
Pink Sea-fan

Knotted Wrack
Channeled Wrack
Spiral Wrack
Bladder Wrack
Sea Lettuce
Carragheen
Laminaria saccharina
Laminaria digitata
Saccorhiza polyschides


Fungi (8 species)

Coral Spot
Dryad's Saddle
Field Blewits
Field Mushroom
Honey Fungus
Shaggy Inkcap
Silverleaf Fungus
Velvet Shank
Plants (210 species)

Agrimony
Alexanders
Annual Beard Grass
Annual Meadow Grass
Annual Mercury
Annual Wall Rocket
Autumn Gentian
Autumn Ladies Tresses
Bastard Toadflax
Bee Orchid
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Biting Stonecrop
Black Knapweed
Black Medick
Black Mustard
Black Spleenwort
Blackthorn
Bladder Campion
Brackish Water Crowfoot
Bramble
Bristly Ox-tongue
Broad-leaved Dock
Broad-leaved Eyebright
Buddleia
Bulbous Buttercup
Bulbous Meadow Grass
Bulrush
Burnet Rose
Burnet Saxifrage
Bush Vetch
Calamint
Carline Thistle
Cats-tail
Charlock
Clematis
Cocksfoot
Common Broomrape
Common Centaury
Common Elder
Common Gromwell
Common Ragwort
Common Storksbill
Common Toadflax
Cotoneaster horizontalis
Cotoneaster microphyllus
Cotoneaster simonsii

Cow Parsley
Cowslip
Creeping Buttercup
Creeping Cinquefoil
Crested Dogstail
Crow Garlic
Cut-leaved Cranesbill
Daisy
Dandelion
Dog Rose
Dogwood
Dropwort
Dwarf Elder
Early Gentian
Early Purple Orchid
English Bluebell
False Brome
False Oat-grass
Fennel
Fern Grass
Field Penny-cress
Field Speedwell
Fodder Burnet
Germander Speedwell
Golden-rod
Golden Samphire
Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil
Greater Knapweed
Greater Plantain
Great Hairy Willowherb
Great Mullein
Grey Willow
Hairy Bittercress
Hairy Rockcress
Hard Rush
Harebell
Hartstongue Fern
Hawkweed Ox-tongue
Hawthorn
Hedge Bedstraw
Hemp Agrimony
Herb Robert
Hoary Plantain
Hoary Ragwort
Hoary Stock
Hogweed
Holly
Holm Oak
Honeysuckle
Hop Trefoil
Horseshoe Vetch
Horsetail
Ivy
Ivy Broomrape
Ivy-leaved Toadflax
Japanese Knotweed
Kidney Vetch
Lady's Bedstraw
Lady's Mantle
Lesser Centaury
Lesser Reedmace
London Plane
Maidenhair Fern
Maidenhair Spleenwort
Male Fern
Marjoram
Meadow Vetchling
Melilot
Milkwort
Mouse-ear Hawkweed
Musk Mallow
Musk Thistle
Olive Willow
Oxford Ragwort
Pear
Pendulous Sedge
Polypody
Portland Rock Sea-lavender
Portland Spurge
Prickly Sow-thistle
Purple Toadflax
Pyramidal Orchid
Quaking Grass
Red Clover
Red Fescue
Red Valerian
Restharrow
Ribwort Plantain
Rock Samphire
Rock Sea Lavender
Rock Stonecrop
Rough Hawkbit
Rough Meadow Grass
Round-leaved Cranesbill
Round-leaved Fluellen
Rue-leaved Saxifrage
Rye Grass
Sainfoin
Saw-wort
Sea Beet
Sea Holly
Sea Kale
Sea Lavender
Sea Mayweed
Sea Radish
Sea Spleenwort
Shining Cranesbill
Slender Thistle
Soft Brome
Soft Cranesbill
Slime Mould
Small Scabious
Smooth Sow-thistle
Spanish Bluebell
Spear Mint
Spear Thistle
Spindle Tree
Spotted Medick
Square-stemmed Willowherb
Squinancywort
Stemless Thistle
Stinging Nettle
Stinking Iris
Strawberry Clover
Tall Fescue
Teasel
Three-cornered Leek
Thrift
Timothy
Tor Grass
Toothed Medick
Upright Brome
Upright Hedge Parsley
Viper's Bugloss
Wall Barley
Wall Rocket
Wall Rue
Wall Speedwell
Wallflower
Wayfaring Tree
Weld
Welted Thistle
Western Polypody
Whitebeam
White Clover
White Stonecrop
Widow Iris
Wild Cabbage
Wild Carrot
Wild Clary
'Wild' Gladiolus
Wild Leek
Wild Madder
Wild Parsley
Wild Privet
Wild Thyme
Winter Heliotrope
Wood Sage
Wood Spurge
Woody Nightshade
Wormwood
Yellow Horned-poppy
Yellow Oat-grass
Yellow Vetch
Yellow Vetchling
Yellow-wort
Yorkshire Fog

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