Exploring Nature Walks Smallmouth 8th of June 2012
Unseasonal gales had brought seabirds such as Pomarine Skuas and Storm Petrels to Chesil Cove but we didn’t fancy getting blown about in the wind so we devised a cunning plan…
In gales most seabirds struggle along Chesil Beach and past the Bill, often giving birdwatchers at these sites dramatically close views. But a close view of a passing skua or shearwater is not much use if you can’t keep your binoculars steady and when the lenses are all covered in salt spray anyway. Our cunning plan was to seek the shelter of Portland Harbour and hope that the gale was strong enough to encourage the birds to take the short cut across the harbour at Ferrybridge.
So we left the island and drove to Wyke, parking conveniently close to Smallmouth, the channel where the waters of the Fleet enter Portland Harbour. As we suspected, terns were streaming through at close quarters, mostly Sandwich Terns with a few Common Terns and a single Little Tern. After half an hour though we still hadn’t seen any Storm Petrels so we decided to further explore these foreign lands and walk along the Rodwell Trail for a bit.
The sheltered railway cutting at Downclose holds a really good selection of plants, including a tremendous selection of legumes (plants in the pea family). As well as a host of common species (listed below) we also found the scarce Bithynian Vetch and the really rare Little Robin (not a legume but a geranium). This last species can be a bit tricky to identify so I uploaded a photo onto iSpot just to make sure I’ve got it right. See http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/268447
The day’s list:
Birds: Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Kestrel, Cormorant, Swallow
Plants: Little Robin, Bithynian Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Common Vetch, Herb Robert, Black Medick, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Salad Burnet