Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Headline News

A bit earlier start this morning than usual, I was on the bus to Portland at 06-20. There, I bumped into Richard Cockram and later Peter Coe and Graham Walbridge but between us we saw precious little through Top Fields, West Cliff and the Slopes, but a bull Grey Seal broke the deadlock as we arrived at the Bill. 19 Black-headed Gull accompanied in their feeding by a single Mediterranean Gull were also there, with a few Wheatear dotted across the Common and Bill Quarry with the odd Chiffchaff here and there. Things perked up further at the Obs where a single Spotted Flycatcher was joined by no fewer than 3 Turtle Doves in the garden Sycamores. On the way home, via the Privet Hedge path, 3 Stonechat were seen and again a few Skylark and a couple of noisy Kestrel. The Turtle Dove photographs were the first I have managed in Dorset.

Turtle Dove - Obs Garden

Kestrel - Top Fields

Bull Grey Seal - Portland Bill

As predicted yesterday, I am this morning proud to announce the birth of the future Prime Minister of Australia, the likely first man to set foot on Mars, future winner of 10 Olympic Golds and prospective finder of a cure for the Common Cold, my second Grandson. Frederick David York was born to Lisa (my youngest daughter) and her husband Commander Bernard York at 01-30 Australian time (16-30 GMT) and weighed in at 6lb 7oz. Bearing the first name of my father and my middle name, this is a privilege indeed and so many of their friends and family in UK send best wishes to all 3 of them. It is hoped there will soon be photographs to follow.

Also last evening I ventured back to Radipole and was successful in re-locating the 3 Ruddy Shelducks. Easily viewable just outside of the Visitor's Center, they were a little difficult to photograph as at most times reed height prevented a clear shot. With provenance unknown I will include them on my 'year list' which now stands at 246, just 3 species short (at the same time) of my record year of 2000.

Ruddy Shelduck - one of 3 at Radipole Lake, Dorset

Ditto - bottoms up

Ditto - all 3

Egypt continued - from the Sewerage Works outside of Sharm El Sheikh

Mohamed, Me & Assam my new found mates at the Sharm Sewerage Works, where there was always a cup of tea waiting during my 3 visits

Bluethroat - Red-spotted (Luscinia svecica) adult

Bluethroat - White-spotted (Luscinia cyanecula) adult

Bluethroat - 'first winter'

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Back to the Grindstone

What Ille describes as "Bagsy's Hard Working" I was back to the 'birding' today, and not a bad morning at that. To start, there was a singing Coal Tit in the Longcroft cemetery which have been almost totally silent during the breeding season, and it was soon apparent there had been an influx of Blackbirds to the area. Only wishing to transit Radipole, and hopefully see the Ruddy Shelduck, I first clapped eyes on the Hooded Merganser which I haven't seen for over 2 months. At my last sighting, it looked in a sorry state, but as the photograph below shows it's now back in really smart plumage. At Portland there was a sprinkling of Wheatear at Barleycrates in company with 2 each of Tree Pipit and Stonechat, a few Swallows & Chiffchaff plus 4 Siskin. At the Hump 2 Lesser Whitethroat were having a tussle in a Dog Rose bush, while close by a female Blackcap and a single Raven were in evidence. There was little to report between there and the Obs, except to say it was good to hear the song of Skylark again. What was prevalent throughout were good numbers of butterflies, mostly Painted Lady and Red Admiral almost exclusively favouring flowering Ivy.

Hooded Merganser - Radipole Lake

While at the Obs, a message flashed on the 'pager' saying the Sandhill Crane, of the last few days, had left Orkney and had been seen at a couple of sites along the east coast of Scotland, including Wick. This brought back unfortunate memories of Sod's Law, at it's very worst, involving what was probably the last such Crane to land up there. At the time I was on the Drilling Rig, Stena Hunter working some miles off the north east side of the Shetland Islands. We had been contracted to drill 11 holes for Joe Shell in the Osprey Field and were crew changing out of Aberdeen by 'fixed wing' to Sumburgh and onward by 'chopper to the rig. For some reason (probably ineptitude) the job was brought to a sudden halt and we 'stacked' the rig in Cromarty. What would have been my very next crew change, via Shetland, coincided with the arrival of Sandhill Crane not 10 minutes walk from the airport, what a MISS. However, since then the situation has been slightly redressed as I have now seen this magnificent species elsewhere - see accompanying photos!

Sandhill Cranes - Creamer's Farm, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA


So, as it has been such a tough day I'll now get back to my Estonian cherry chocolate bar, courtesy of you know who, and coffee, and hopefully talk again tomorrow when there might be some EARTH SHATTERING NEWS - wait and see!

Over the next few days there will be more photographs from the All Our Yesterdays Series, this set being from the Sinai Peninsular, Egypt early 2009.

The hotel at Sharm El Sheikh, about 10 minutes after meeting Ille

A Little Later
and Later Still with Shisha Hookah Pipe & Bedouin Tea

While out in the garden

Laughing Dove

Sardinian Warbler

Monday, 28 September 2009

Appologies for Delay, This is Yesterday's Post

Ille phoned to say she had arrived back in Tallinn safely just as my National Express coach was approaching Fleet Services on the M3, it had been a magical 10 days. We couldn't decide whether it was Ken or Boris, the Congestion Charge, general attitude of the populous or what, but there had been some drastic changes (all for the good) to the Square Mile. This was not the London I had known in the mid-sixties when I would scour a ramshackled Camden looking for difficult to obtain albums by the likes of Graham Bond Organisation, Piblokto, Captain Beefheart, String Driven Thing etc, etc. During the 70's the mountains of rubbish just seemed to grow and grow, especially in Soho, but fortunately the Chinese community took over this historic area named from an old hunting cry, and smartened the whole area up. In the 80's and 90's traffic became 'public enemy number one', but now with little vehicular presence you can smell fresh air, in addition to which the river is cleaner, streets, parks and thoroughfares are virtually litter free, in short a pleasure to be there. While on the subject of 'The Lock', there too have been massive transformations, no longer are you subject to over zealous stallholders physically dragging you to their stalls, and virtually holding you captive, no a sense3 of symmetry prevails, without loosing any of its buzz of this exciting place. In short, the recommendation would be to get up there and enjoy our transformed capital, go on give it a try!

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street (sometimes known as Bonuses RUs)

Changing the Guard @ Horse Guard's Parade - Coldstreams I think
The Tower of London - Off with their heads!

Traitor's Gate - Hey was that Gordon Brown in that rowing boat?

Ille with Beefeater - What is it about these Men in Uniforms?

Ille, in what she described as 'Paradise'

We were both so taken with this lady, we asked for a photie

Taking the Sun and a Beer at The Good Mixer, Camden Town

Homeward Bound - Ille on London Underground

Saturday, 26 September 2009

I'm not In love, so don't forget it. it's just a silly phase I'm going through!

Where did those 10 days go? Ille returns to Tallinn, Estonia tomorrow so this is our last evening together, and if you lot think I'm sitting here writing blogs you're mistaken. MANANA!!

Ille at Tower Bridge

Bagsy at Tower Bridge

Ille outside St Paul's

"As I was walking past St Paul's, a lady grabbed me by the - Arm!"

Friday, 25 September 2009

Something to Keep Your Eye On

After an extremely hearty, eat as much as you will, breakfast, we again walked west along the South Bank to suss out the London Eye. The predicted waiting time from ticket office to 'flying' was 30 minutes so most certainly worth the wait. What was totally unexpected was the pre-flight 3D video which had not been there on my previous visit, and on our approach we very nearly opted to give it a miss. Thank heavens we didn't! What a show, a Herring Gulls eye view of a flight over the Capital with all aspects 'right in your face'. At times it made you jump, sometimes loose your breath and all the time watch in awe. No more to be said, except for £17.50 (£11.00 for us wrinklies) it is a Not To Be Missed experience. In fact it took 50 minutes to climb aboard, 60 minutes for the flight of which we enjoyed every second. On our way to cross Waterloo Bridge we stopped to watch some of the numerous street entertainers, most top of their game. First prize however went to the young man with a life size rag doll puppet of a tango dancer, with her toe caps secured to his. In this fashion they danced as one, and what a performance. It's my favourite view in London from this bridge so we tarried a while before visiting the Courtauld Gallery. This coincided with London Fashion Week also utilising Somerset House, but leaving the throng the gallery was almost ours alone. We could have stayed all day, but time presses so we quickly viewed some of the 'Old Masters' before quickly moving on to the Impressionists and Modernists. There in all her glory stood the girl behind the Bar at the Follies Bergere by Edouard Manet, which I think I have waxed lyrical about in a previous post. Unfortunately, Van Gogh's 'Peach Blossom in the Crua' was away for rehanging so we were unable to see it, but a great visit for all that. Next was Covent Garden, and while Ille set about shopping for pressies for those at home, I helped by keeping well out of the way with a pint of Magners. Buck House was next and yes Liz was in residence but didn't come to the curtain, so missed us. On we walked to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and finally back to Trafalgar Square. So impressed had Ille been with The Sherlock Holmes that we once again ate there, and ended our day with a one hour stroll back to the hotel.

Knobheed and his Girl overlooking St Paul's and the Financial District

Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, from the London Eye

Eye, Eye it's them 2 again

2 of my favourite girls in one shot

You want to watch them Squadies Mi Duck

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Dirty Old River Must You Keep Rolling, Rolling on Through the Night

So, after an early call, a short taxi ride and 4 hours on the National Express we arrived in 'The Smoke'. Almost a perfect run up, I've always considered NE about the best way to get to town, with only one 20 minute delay when a Maserati decided to check out the 'stern tube' of an artic which sliced his bonnet of right up to and including the windscreen. No Claims Bonus - wot No Claims Bonus??

The Travel lodge at Southwark was no bother either, just a 5 minute walk from the tube station bearing the same name and we were checked in. We retraced our steps as far as Waterloo, then journeyed on to Tottenham Court Road to check out any gigs that may be on at the Mean Fiddler - No. We then walked the length of Charring Cross Road to visit China Town, Soho and Piccadilly Circus, I well remember the days when you could hardly have walked it for the rubbish. The Chinese community are still keeping it relatively spotless, oh and of course it was great to see the Porcupine again, an old stomping ground. My most memorable moment there was when I went to check out Pure Reason Revolution at the afore mentioned 'Fiddler' and seeing a few faces stayed for more than the intended 'one'. At the gig I presented my ticket, had my cheese rolls confiscated and arrived just to hear the MC announce, "a big hand then for PRR, excellent set" and just caught sight of the drummer leaving the stage.

We continued to Trafalgar Square and paid a longer than intended visit to the National Gallery. Content with some of the 'old masters' in the first room, we soon hit the Immrpessionist and found we couldn't leave. Ille was most interested to see Alfred Sisely and Picasso, while I headed straight for Manet and Odilon Redon (the latter's work 'The Boat' adorns my bedroom). After that we visited an old shipmate of mine, someone I taught everything I know. There he was full of all his glory atop that great column, and as we used to say "look how high he got, and he's still being shit on"!! Our final port of call was the Sherlock Holmes, just a few metres short of the Embankment, and we can report the fish, chips and mushy peas are as good as they ever where. We crossed the bridge at Waterloo, me crooning that Kinks classic to my girl, and I haven't seen her since! Yes I have we walk back together along the South Bank admiring The Savoy, Royal Festival Hall, The Hayward, St Paul's Cathedral and The Gherkin, sticking out of the financial district, from a distance ready for a shower and good nights sleep. Roll on tomorrow.

Ille in China Town

The Porcupine - a few stories have been told in there

Ille at the Shirlock Holmes - an old stopping off place on my way south from the rig

Did someone say Erso? He's the God of Love isn't he?

The 'Fourth Plinth' occupied by some woman doing her washing up!

Horatio cocking a 'blind eye'

and mortally wounded - there I told you he come to a sticky end!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Three Photos at Random from the Archive

Those of you who know Sheila Edwards will also know that when I say I got a Right Royal Rollicking that is just what I got. Wanting her and Bowie (Lorne) to meet Ille we invited them round for a pre-dinner drink this evening, which is when she launched straight into me. What about the Greyhound then, was her opening gambit, we are all waiting with baited breath to find out if 'Bomber' still has his ears. Philistine I've been and Philistine I stay, so sorry Paul and all others but I completely forgot the report last night, so here goes! Mine Host (John) is a true country gentleman and perfect 'front of house'. Another splendid welcome, particularly as we had designated the meal a present for Joy's upcoming 70th birthday as well as Ille's introduction to a true English pub. I had the pigeon starter while the others shared a Palma ham and beef platter, Ille and I had the rack of lamb, Joy the pigeon as a main and Roy chicken breast stuffed with lobster (yes lobster,) what a novel idea? A most passable Pinotage, and with no room for sweet, coffee. It was all exquisite. The landlord remembers Paul and Annie and we feel sure there will be a 'freebie' the next time you go. Thanks for the recommend mate, it could not have been better.

As for today, it was virtually birdless but the walk through Barleycrates (3 Whinchat, 1 Stonechat, 2 Raven) was as usual therapeutic. It wasn't until we got to the barns that a few Swallows started to appear, with a distant Common Buzzard on a gate post. We walked back via the main road and Top Fields and stopped off at Fortuneswell to visit Country Furniture where Ille bought 5 old keys and a one handles warm milk jug, I've never seen anyone so excited over junk, but then she is an artist and will see much more potential than I. The best part of that visit was her bargaining power, I don't think Chiefy in the shop quite knew what had hit him. The intent was to walk the fore-shore at Ferrybridge, but with the roadworks our progress was so slow going past that we could see very well there was little of interest. After entertaining Bowie and Sheila we ate Turbot caught on our Shambles fishing trip with Andy and Glen, prepare for our trip to London tomorrow while watching (yet again) some of the George Harrison Tribute Concert. Another cracking day, so hopefully will talk to you tomorrow from the Travel Lodge, South Bank.

The first photo file I pulled up this evening was 2006 Morocco, so here are just 3 photos from that trip, hope you enjoy them.

Mousiers Redstart

House Bunting

Black Wheatear

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

In Praise of Mister Lano

Ille and I continued our mini Dorset Tour today at the north end of Portland. Tout Quarry is always a specialty for my friends so, after a quick look at the market at Ille's request, we headed for the great hole. Spotting a few of the random rock carvings, we were pleased to find the Stone Masons in residence and practicing their craft. From there it was Lano's Bridge which I understand was built by a quarryman of that name forming this beautifully symmetrical arc during his lunch breaks, completing his efforts in 1854. We traversed the path to the cliff where I covered Ille's eyes revealing the view of Lyme Bay when in the optimum position. We walked some of the west cliff, but the westerly wind was freshening all the time so we diverted towards St George's Church. Unfortunately, this is undergoing maintenance, with the scaffs hard at it, so was closed to visitors. A decent guide should always have a second option in the locker, so we decanted to the George pub for a pint and a packet of crisps. It had been a long time since my last visit, in fact 1985 when I lived in Reforne Close and it, along with the New Inn, Easton was my local. It brought back excellent memories of drinking with a good friend Malcolm Trent who covered many a sea mile with me. On one occasion we sat in the 'public', Malcolm totally besotted by the landlord's daughter Elaine Gilvere. All he could say to me was "isn't she gorgeous etc etc". I told him he was telling the wrong person, he should be saying it to her. A couple of pints later he plucked up the courage an a couple of years later they married.

And finally on the bus home, an ideal opportunity was taken to illustrate to Ille one of the great traits of English society. We had experienced long delays due to the resurfacing road works at the south end of Portland Road and I had explained how the public had complained bitterly about the road for many months and now at last it was being done. However, the conversation in the bus had now altered dramatically with suggestions that the delays were avoidable, we shouldn't have to put up with this, why can't they do it at night? Ask your average Council Tax payer for an extra quid a month to cover the night shift and I feel sure the response would be 100% agreeable????

Ille at Lano's Bridge

What has to be one of the most spectacular views in the country

Bagsy & Ille at Scenic Fantastique

The second and final look at the Penguins, ain't that Chinstrap something to behold, Charlie Chaplin on ice! (or gravel in this case)

Jackass Penguin - Simonstown, South Africa

Gentoo Penguin - Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin - Antarctica