Monday, 31 August 2009

Rare Goby & More Waders

Ferry Bridge took a bit of a tumble as far as numbers were concerned today, all except Turnstone which reached a month maximum of 32. Apart from a few Gulls the only other evidence of life were 77 Ringed Plover, 22 Dunlin and a single Sanderling. Thinking that was bad enough the walk from Barleycrates to the Obelisk and onward to the Portland Bird Observatory (PBO) produced exactly 2 Wheatear and 3 Swallows, maybe I need to wake up? Disappointment struck there also as I had just missed the 3rd Melodious Warbler of the year, so things could only get better! There was a slight (or maybe a major in some people's book) upturn when I introduced Ian Dodd (now more or less 'in house' ringer at the Obs) to Don Moxom at the Fleet Visitor's Center. Not only was I reacquainted with a local stalker, who had provided both Roe and Sika venison for the Moxom's recent party, but Don also informed us that Couch's Goby Gobius couchii had been rediscovered in the Fleet after many years without a sighting. In addition it was good to see both Edwin Welland and Alan Bull again, both paying a week-end visit to Portland.

Small Pratincole - Bundala NP, Hambantota, Sri Lanka

Water Dikkop - Hlane NNR, Swaziland

Bush Thick-knee - Kakadu NP, Northern Territory, Australia

Great Thick-knee - Wilpattu NP, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Another Quiet Day

My arrival at Ferry Bridge at about 06-30 this morning coincided with a cloudburst, but undeterred I continued. Despite the hour, already there were anglers, windsurfers, bait diggers etc but in their own way they help with the count by herding the Waders onto one section of sand. There wasn't really many to count but my highest Turnstone tally entered the log at 24, along with 96 Ringed Plover, 42 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling. At Sweethill I met up with John Down and we continued together to cover the barns area and Helen's Fields noting, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler a few Wheatears which was about it. At the Bill there was quite a group of Gannet feeding, accompanied by a selection of Gull but none that I could discern as an intermedius Lesser Black-back, but I'm still looking. Also on the sea there were a couple of Arctic Skua, while in the Obs Quarry the 'dark' Little Owl was on show despite the 'fresh' west sou' west wind. Bird wise there was little to add at the Observatory except an exquisite Striped Hawk-moth always an excellent insect to behold. Surely it's time for things to hot up on the bird front, so let's hope tomorrow is the day.

Striped Hawk-moth

Little Owl

A Few More Waders

Black-fronted Plover - Tomato Lake, Perth, Australia

Red-capped Plover - Alice Springs Sewerage Works, Australia

Two-banded Plover - Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

Spur-winged Plover - Gambia

Saturday, 29 August 2009

"I know it's only Rock 'n' Roll but I like it, like it, yes I do!"

The single best thing I did today, was to resurrect 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi', far too long gathering House Spider droppings in the CD cupboard. It had been a while since I last enjoyed the sheer brilliance of Messrs Mills, Buck, Berry and Stipe and checking MS Strong's the 'Great Rock Discography', found that not only are REM his favourite band, but formed as long ago as 1980. If a man is ever stuck for a word or two to grace a Valentine's card, look no further than the lyric of Be Mine. This in turned generated a little nostalgia about my own, 'limited', Rock & Roll career, singing occasionally in the late sixties with the Londonderry band Blues Etc. Then, as those of you who were at my 60'th birthday party will remember, my blistering renditions of 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Paranoid', as a consequence of which I still receive threatening letters from Metallica and a certain Mr O Osbourne. However, few of you will know my connection, as founder member and vocalist, with the seminal Metal outfit Iron Workz, except for my daughters who remember well the 'royalties'. Having not performed together for a number of years we were approached to do a 'farewell gig' at the de Montfort Hall, Leicester which was videoed for posterity. While no one deserves to sit through the whole 'set', the finale is memorable for the way we all left the stage with dignity and gently eased into civilian life, so this short excerpt is published for your felicitation. Enjoy!

The Only 'Tick' Today

With the number of intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls visiting Portland and surrounds an early start was thought a sure way of adding a photograph of this final Sub species to the archive. Despite the 06-00 bus and a brisk walk to the Bill Common, none were to be found. However, there were a few migrants to brighten the morning, during the walk the following were recorded:- 14 Yellow Wagtail, 41 Wheatear, 19 Swallows, 3 Tree Pipits plus single Whitethroat, Dunlin and Merlin. Add to that a Common Darter and a newly fledged Wren, complete with a fully fed 'tick' (pictured) not a bad couple of hours.

Juvenile Wren (with the only 'tick' of the day)

Common Darter

Friday, 28 August 2009

Waders of the Lost Arc-hive (didn't ought did I?)

As promised, this is the first post of a series of Waders from around the World, hope you enjoy them.

Variable Oystercatcher - Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

Magellanic Oystercatcher - Falkland Islands
Blackish Oystercatcher was also photographed the same day (Boxing Day 2007) but being pursued by a Falkland's Skua, it looks rather like a blurred stick being thrown into the sea.

Sooty Oystercatcher - Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia

Black Oystercatcher - Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

I'm not going to use the 'O' word in case I upset both myself and others, but I just don't know how I get so much information mixed up (maybe that's why my World Bird List stands at 12,800?) The pictures of Chesil beach, below, have no connection whatsoever with Spring Tides, or any other tides for that matter. The erosion and movement of the beach was caused by the storm of 9th February 2009, as the histogram above adequately highlights. My apologies to all and sundry.

Wind and Wave Riders

It was drafty on the fore-shore at Ferry Bridge this morning with even the 'sail shaped' banners on the newly erected lamp post 'yards' being torn from their moorings. At least it was keeping the few Waders that were there close to the deck, making counting fairly easy. Much the same as yesterday with 94 Dunlin, 126 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone, singles of Knot & Sanderling plus 4 Wheatear. It was the second day on the trot I didn't record a Mediterranean Gull.

It's tomorrow I believe the World Windsurfing Championships get underway, and if the 'warm ups' over the past couple of days are anything to go by Gold is going to be extremely difficult to achieve. Capturing the action on a single shot still is impossible, so my advise is, if you are able, get down to the edge of Portland Harbour and experience what maybe the biggest FREE thrill you'll get this year.

Plain Sailing
followed by Rough
and Tumble (click on image to see the bigger picture)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Addition to the Archives - Y-l G

OK, it's taken a while but at last I have found, identified and photographed a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. It's not as if they haven't been queuing up 3 deep in recent weeks, but I just don't get them. So, here's the evidence, unless of course you can tell me different?

Ferry Bridge today, 121 Ringed Plover, 75 Dunlin, 5 Turnstone and singles of Knot & Sanderling. At Portland a poor showing of just a Whimbrel, 5 Wheatear and a Whitethroat.

Yellow-legged Gull (juvenile) Ferry Bridge

Yellow-legged Gull (juvenile), Great Black-backed Gull (juvenile & adult)

This is not A Swan Song - just all the Swans of the World

Northern Hemisphere

Mute Swan with a (small) 'Polish' strain bird (center) & juvenile (top) - Radipole Lake, Dorset

Bewick's Swan - Ibsley Bridge, Hants

Whooper Swan - Cheng Du, China

Whistling Swan - New Jersey, USA

Trumpeter Swan - Toad River, British Columbia, Canada

Southern Hemisphere

Coscoroba - Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Note on Costanera Sur NR. Just 10 minute (£3 taxi ride) from anywhere in the city, a 'must visit' reserve, on the edge of the Rio del Plata. Extremely popular with the locals, the only thing that outnumbers the people and litter are birds!

Black-necked Swan - Costanera Sur ER, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Black Swan - Tomato Lake, Perth, Australia

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Gulls of the World (Part 10) All Over the Place

It seems alien sitting indoors in the morning, but the abysmal weather has prevented any sensible 'birding'. Hoping for a lull this afternoon, to catch the ebb at Ferry Bridge, I'll utilise the time to bring you the final photographs in the Gulls of the World series. 36 of the 54 (self accepted) species have been represented in this montage, with a further 3 (Franklin's, Grey and Olrog's Gulls) only committed to 35mm film which I am unable to upload despite scanning. Please note, this Blog is not about accolade, but a chance to share a part of my life with a few like minded people. However, the few responses to my efforts so far have been unanimously positive and I have had a couple of requests to follow the Gulls with Waders. This I will be delighted to do in the days to come. Finally, it would be of great help and interest if all my readers could register as 'Followers' (just follow the links) as particularly whilst I'm away it would be good to hear, occasionally, what you lot are up to, a Blog should be a 2 way street. Any comments, withing the bounds of Google rules, would also be more than welcome.

Ferry Bridge this afternoon 13-00 to 15-30 included, 76 Ringed Plover, 51 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 20 Turnstone, 4 Knot, a Whimbrel, plus an assortment of Gulls several juveniles.

Brown-headed Gull - Sri Lanka

Brown-hooded Gull - Falkland Islands

Dolphin Gull - Ushuaia, Argentina

Yellow-legged Gull - Essaouira, Morocco

Note on the last species: I have never been totally happy with my identification of this individual, as is often the case the image didn't represent the true colour of the bird. I noted at the time that the mantle and upper wing coloration was far lighter than the representation and so would welcome the views of any Gulloholics out there. My (open) view is that it is Larus cachinans atlantis????

Wet 'n' Windy Wednesday

This remarkable set of photographs came into my possession some time ago via a friend who has spent his whole life on the edge of the Fleet and comments he has never witnessed the likes before. Taken after the fairly violent storm of 9th February 2009, the location is adjacent the Coastguard Cottages at Abbotsbury. Before publishing these shots (for which I have permission) I decided it best to investigate them further, talking to a number of Portisham / Abbotsbury folk. They too have never seen such changes in the beach structure or such wide spread and prolific 'rock / clay scatter'. If any of my readers can shed further light on this phenomena I, and several others, would be pleased to hear from you. This can be done via the 'comments' line below each posting, just click the word in green. Any notes that follow should be taken at face value as they may be inaccurate or short of fact.

These ridges, on the Fleet side of the Chesil, are locally known as 'crubs' and regularly run horizontally, ie from Abbotsbury to Portland. They have been seen in the past but not to such depth.

Undermining of the beach by sea erosion is not uncommon.

Unidentified metal cast, maybe used as a 'clump' (anchor) to secure a small boat, fishing net etc?

Clay slip, again not unusual except for the amount.

The next 3 images highlight the vast amount of rock and clay 'scatter' more than recalled before?

The edge of the clay slip, known as The Hard was where, a friend informs me, local children would be sent to search for coins and other small artifacts, with some success.

I would like to thank Don Moxom, Joy Langford et al for their help, time and insight into this fascinating occurrence.

Note:- Changes have been made to this post as my brain decided to, briefly, click back into gear. See ammendment and appology at Waders of the Lost Arc-hive 'post'.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

High Tide - Dry Day

Well, I thought the day was over until I found there was an outstanding text from Daragh that needed some swift action. A Wood Sandpiper at Lodmoor is not only an excellent bird to see, but a 'year tick' for me, the first since 12th June when we 'twitched' the Somerset Little Bittern. Dinner was at 19-00 and it was already 17-30, but the prophetic words of fellow birder Brett Spence came flooding back from the day I found the Fan-tailed Warbler and he drove back from somewhere like Ringwood pronouncing "there are some things in life much more important than a family holiday" (for family holiday substitute eating) I was soon marching down Abbotsbury Road at full tilt to catch a bus that never seemed to come, and embark on a journey that almost daily seems about 5 minutes when I'm walking. These days I just cannot carry all the kit and the 'scope has long since been forsaken for the camera and lens, so when I did locate 2 small Waders, at great distance, they did seemed to have the look of a WS and a Dunlin, but you can hardly commit that to the notebook. Enter Daragh, stage left, with trusty optic and newly 'acquired' tripod and we had it clinched, number 242 for the year, with the other bird being a Common Sand. As it was I needn't have worried as the photo above accurately tells the story, just look at those under-tail coverts?? As for the bird on the left I'm certain the tail length is right for Spot Sand!
Knot, or Red Knot as they seem to call them these days.

juvenile Mediterranean Gull

Despite an unfavourable forecast and some heavy overnight rain, things seemed set fair for a walk to Ferry Bridge at least. As I approached the Weymouth Fire Station a Hobby flew overhead, and watched as it continued north over the inner harbour and onward to Radipole. The walk was well worth it as the tide was about to flood, the foreshore seemed full of birds, and as I crossed the bridge a Grey Wagtail revealed itself 'on call'. Counts included 10 Little Egret, 2 Lesser & 4 Greater Black-backed Gull, 174 Ringed Plover, 78 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 6 Oystercatcher, 5 Turnstone, 4 Mediterranean Gull and a bonus by way of an obliging Knot. There was plenty of time to complete counts and search for that 'rarity', and to make things easier everything was concentrating on eating rather than flying all over the place. It's a steak and a pint with Daragh Croxson & Pete Coe in JD Weatherspoor's this evening so the place will soon be full of feathers and Parrot droppings!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Gulls of the World (Part 9) North Africa

Sooty Gull - Ras Mohamed (north), Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Audouin's Gull - Essaouira, Morocco

White-eyed Gull - Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Pallas's Gull - Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt