Lapland Bunting – Portland Bill, Dorset

In the Weymouth area there were two year ticks fairly close to each other. An amazingly confiding Lapland Bunting at Portland Bill and a slightly less obliging Long-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor.

The Lapland Bunting was found on Tuesday 10th September and was being seen very well, down to six feet, along the shoreline between the Lobster Pot café and the stone beach huts. The Long-billed Dowitcher was first seen the next day.

I was working Thursday morning and dog sitting in the afternoon and Sarah was out shopping with Vanessa on Friday. I decided that if both birds hung around then I would head west on Saturday. Both birds were still around on the Friday evening and so I set my alarm early and headed down first thing on Saturday morning.

I headed to Portland Bill first. I was the third birder to arrive at the Lobster Pot Café and I knew the bunting was still present as there were two photographers lying on the ground apparently photographing the wooden seat which overlooks one of the rocky bays. As I got closer I could see that the Lapland Bunting was standing underneath the seat.

Lapland Buntings can often be fairly wary and so it was surprising to see how confiding this bird was, over the next hour it was constantly surrounded by an ever increasing ring of photographers. When I’m sketching I prefer not to be too close to the bird, being too close means that the bird often moves out of the scope view too quickly and I constantly need to pan which is difficult when your hands are already full of pencil and sketchbook.

The face was reddish brown with an open expression and a beady eye. The ear coverts were dark edged and two white wings bars surrounded the chestnut coloured greater coverts. Head on it showed a central crown stripe.

Lapland Bunting breeds across Arctic Europe and Asia with Norway the nearest breeding grounds. They winter along the coasts to the south of there including Denmark and the Netherlands.

A message came through that the Long-billed Dowitcher was still present at Lodmoor and so I headed back to the car.

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