We made our way down to the South West coast park, joining it just after the lighthouse, we were going to walk the path as far as Dancing Ledge about just over 2 miles from where we were, so technically the day would not all be in the park. On the journey here there had been light rain all the way, and there were still a few drops about as we headed along the path.
Durlston and the cliffs are very popular with climbers, there are poles to allow them to abseil the steep cliff faces. However after s short distance we came across a sign stating that the cliffs here were not to be used for climbing due to nesting birds.
I turned to talk to Ian, and noticed a shape on the edge of the cliff, I suddenly relised what birds were nesting on the cliff that were so special. A female Peregrine was sitting there just looking at me.
Not sure how long it would stay, I kept shooting away, she moving her head avery so often to watch us.
Gulls and Jackdaws would pass, and she would just keep an eye on them.
I moved slightly so as to get a clearer view, there was grass that could get in the way, she followed my movement but stayed quite still.
What a bird, the dark ink black eyes with slight reflections of the sky behind us.
From our right the male bird appeared, flying just beneath the cliff, then out over the sea. The female stayed where she was, but when it came back again he called quite loudly, and she just dropped from her perch and out of sight. In the last week I have been treated to some wonderful views of Peregrine, but this has to be the best I have had, just a wonderful start to the day.
We waited to see if they would reappear, and out to sea we watched a Gannet pass heading east.
Once we realised they were not coming back we set off along the path. After a short distance we came across a vocal Great tit, there was also the calls of young near by, but there was no sign of them. It seemed a strange location for Great Tits to nest in.
While we watched the Great Tit, a Stonechat appeared on the top of the bush, it too was calling, and like the Great tit it had young close by.
There were at least three young birds, and all were happy perching high on the bushes as the parents called and worked hard to collect food.
A Whitethroat burst into the air from within a bush where it had been singing, it dropped back down into the bramble and thorn bushes only to appear still singing.
A little further on another male was singing from the top of a bush.
Another falcon appeared, this time a male Kestrel, and it flew along the top of cliffs behind us, and then settled on one of the mile markers.
We had now reached the cliffs at Blacker's Hole, and below us on the water were several small rafts of Guillemots.
Every so often there would be a Razorbill fly past, and also a few Kittiwakes, there bright white and slate grey colours contrasting with the dark grey of the sea below it.
Stonechats were everywhere along the cliff, their calls being constantly heard. Some had fledged birds while others it would seem were still feeding young in the nest.
Out to sea and above us Swifts were whizzing past us, every so often the sound of the sea below us was punctuated by their screams as they raced past.
The Purbeck stone that the cliffs are formed with has cracks and crevices that would make ideal nesting sites for the Swifts and it appeared that this is why they were there, one or two being seen flying right up to the cliff face.
As we approached Dancing Ledge the temperature started to rise despite the fact that it was still completely overcast. The cloud though seemed thin, there was little wind, and the sun was definitely managing to get through to us. We stopped for a break over looking Dancing Ledge that seemed very popular with walkers.
A Rock Pipit appeared on the barbed wire close to us. It looked a little bedraggled, the effect of a rather busy breeding season.
On the other side of us a Herring Gull appeared from behind a curtain of grass and thrift.
On the slopes above us several people were stopping and photographing on the ground. It clearly wasn't butterflies as they almost stayed in one place using tripods. We decided to go and have a look ourselves, having our suspicions but wanting to have them confirmed.
They were confirmed before we reached anybody, Ian pointing out a lovely Bee Orchid in the grass just below his foot.
As I waited my turn to photograph a blue butterfly went past me, I chased it down and saw that it was an Adonis Blue, but refused for now to open up and fully show those beautiful shimmering blue upper wings.
It now became clear the field was full of Bee Orchids, we moved carefully taking it all in, they were all differently marked with some having more than one flower on the stem.
The bee shape is the attraction, the insect or bee settling on it, and the back of the insect is then covered in pollen from the stamens that hang down, as the insect then moves from flower it pollinates them. You can see the stamens hanging here.
By now we had met up with some of the other people and were advised that there were rarer forms in the field too. Showing a completely different body to the Bee Orchids, these are known as the "Wasp Orchid".
At the end of the path was a row of Scot's Pines, and from above our heads we could hear the calls of what sounded like a young bird of prey.
We found the nest and watched in the hope that it might be that of a Hobby. But every so often the young bird would move about in the nest, showing the white downy feathers of what we consider to be a Buzzard. We felt it was much bigger than a Hobby chick.
We returned to the car park, and took the other trails walking through the farm, and the along a track leading towards Shipstal. In one of the fields we passed two Sika Deer grazing.Sika are similar in size and coat to Fallow deer, but darker. They are reddish-brown to yellow-brown in colour with a dark dorsal stripe surrounded by white spots in the summer.