Way back in 2003, when D#4 was but a small crawling baby, Mrs D's parents moved to Weymouth. Or more precisely, back to Weymouth. We started visiting regularly; there is no better place for small children, and there were grandparents too. I got to sneak off on occasion to birdwatch the local sites with the results you've seen here.
Roll forward 14 years, and things have changed. D#4 is a teenager worried about his trainers and playing computer games with his mates. D#1 has moved into the world of work, and the others don't find a long golden beach the attraction it once was. More significantly, Mrs D's father sadly departed this life a couple of years ago, and Mrs D's mother has moved away. So this weekend Mrs D and I came down to tidy up some loose ends and close the door on a long and happy chapter.
Birdwise, its been good. Its not been as good as some have had down here, but the reality of birding Portland and Weymouth is that the birds come to those who put the hours in. Lots of stuff comes through for a day or two only, so if you are not down here when it turns up, you miss it. Nevertheless with such a variety of habitats as Portland bill, the top fields, Ferrybridge, Radipole, Lodmoor, Portland Harbour, and the fleet the standard bird list on any one day is really impressive.
I only really got to appreciate the place when I stopped worrying about the rarities. If you worry about the birds you miss it will eat into you in a big way. If you accept that you can't be everywhere all the time, and that wherever you are the birds in front of you are the ones you need to be looking at, then its a great place. Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Water Rails, Peregrines, Auks, Terns, waders, passage migrants, they are all here.
The local birders have all been very welcoming and informative. I've not detected any of the suppression of some places and most are only too happy to tell you what's around and where to see it. Special mention to Martin Cade, warden at Portland Bird Obs. It goes without saying he knows his birds, but he knows most of the other island wildlife too. His generosity of time and explanation and warmth of welcome goes beyond the call of duty. Portland is lucky to have him.
But its time for different places and different birds. I can still come back, obviously, but its a three and a half hour trip so there and back in a day is difficult, and given I can get to just about the whole Norfolk coast and most of the Kent and Sussex coast in 2 hours I can't see why I wouldn't do that instead. And all that time in Weymouth has been time not in other places so I feel it is time for other places to get a visit.
So that's that for a while. Thank you Weymouth and Portland, and time for some new places and new birds.