A 4:10am start from home on Sunday, picking up a couple of waifs and strays along the way towards Weymouth. And surprisingly awake throughout the day actually, the early night worked wonders!
Parking up at Lodmoor at about 8:40, six Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew west over the car park. Walking down to the west scrape, the Short-billed Dowitcher showed well straight away, busily feeding. Hurrah and phew.
After a short while the bird became a bit more mobile. Having a fly around and landing on other parts of the reserve, and out of sight for a while. Other birds seen around Lodmoor included a 2nd-winter Med Gull with it's pale tip to the end of the bill (a useful identification feature for 2nd winters I find, especially at a bit of a distance when the head pattern and black on the primaries can confuse with Black-headed Gull), a Sandwich Tern, Little Egret, and a few each of Common Sand and Black-tailed Godwit.
While the Dowitcher had gone missing, the pager was mentioning a few Balearic Shearwaters passing from Portland Bill. As views of the Dowitcher weren't going to get much better than we already had, it was over to Portland Bill for a bit of a seawatch. Pity that someone had put a whacking great big lighthouse in the way!
No silly, from the other side of the lighthouse were some very comfortable rocks to sit on. Unfortunately not a great deal was passing out at sea, apart from Common Scoters and Gannets, and the odd distant auk sp. There was also a Wheatear at the end of the bill, and the rather poignant sight of Swallows heading out to sea, heading for Africa, but they'll be back next year! There were also a couple of people snorkelling just offshore. I wish Joe Public would stop calling them divers, because I was looking for Red-throated or Great Northern!
Whilst making the start of the long journey home and getting back onto the M5 at Taunton, time calculations were made to see how long it would take to get to the site of a White-rumped Sandpiper. This was just north of Bridgwater, by the Parrett Estuary, at Steart. How it's pronounced is anyone's guess. "Start", "Stirt" or "Steeart"???
But anyway, it would be daft not to try, if only for a short time, while passing. The car park and footpath to the sea wall was found, as was the White-rumped Sand in what you would imagine could be a very impressive area for birding. The Parrett Estuary proved reminiscent to places around The Wash I thought. And another bit of Somerset that I've been impressed with this year.
A very smart juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was also present, and for a time accompanied the White-rumped Sand!
One each of Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover were also on the flood. And with that, a successful end to a successful day. Just the fun and games of the M5 traffic through Bristol and Birmingham to endure!