Sunday, 21 March 2010

Vernal Equinox

In sharp contrast to yesterday, the sun was well above the sea-front buildings when I left home early this morning, welcoming the first full day of Springtime. According to my Reed's Nautical Almanac the precise time the Current Bun was directly above the Equator was 17.32 UTC yesterday, so I'm a bit adrift, but anything that means more daylight gets my vote. Just so we can all be a 'flip to the front' for the Autumnal version, that occurs at 03.09 on 23rd September.

In the cemetery the male Blackcap was already in full song, using 'the' guardedly I feel this may well be last years bird returning once again looking for a mate? Similarly, both Goldcrest and Coal Tit were at it, while the Black Redstart remained at Pottery Lane, the only addition being c7 Siskin flying north letting out an occasional cheeping call. c4 Pochard greeted me at Radipole and before entering the kissing gate c3 Chiffchaff and at least c2 Bullfinch were seen at close range. Overhead c14 Common Snipe whirled in ever decreasing circles before dropping in to join another c17 already settled at the reed edge, while a scruffy, juvenile? Marsh Harrier quartered the northern reed bed.

The Black Redstart looked so good in the early morning sunshine, I thought I'd share it with you.

At the main footbridge, this quartet of Coots were jockeying for 'mating' position, firstly posturing, then

things started getting a bit more physical.

At Ferry Bridge there was no more than 5 Herring Gulls, so it was another bus onward to Portland. Alighting at Weston Corner and crossing the grass verge this confiding female Kestrel (which has been in the area for quite a while now) took an Earthworm no more than 6 feet away from where I stood.

The muddy walk along Barleycrates was uneventful, but at the seaward end this lone Raven did fly overhead and already there was sign of the odd Wheatear. There were c6 in all, but that was it until reaching the Common where quite a few more had arrived, the count totaling 16, along with c2 White Wagtail.

This Common Toad stood sentry outside of the Observatory gate, while the news from within was mainly of common migrants and a couple of Red-throated Divers, a species that would increase my year list. With coffee and some Duncan Walbridge doughnuts on offer while sat in the sun, a report of a Hoopoe was enough to kick Ken Parker, Ricky Lambert and myself into search mode. At Culverwell we did find a number of Chiffchaff and c2 splendid Firecrest, but our wander through Top Fields came to naught - good job we'd seen the one last week! That's when I called it a day,

but did see this Common Buzzard upsetting the Weymouth Gull Squadron as it flew over Asda. The only other thing of note was a report from Daragh Croxson who phoned to say a Red Kite was flying west (towards my house) over Lodmoor. Quarter of an hour looking from the bedroom widow drew a blank, but then I had to break off to 'clean ship', that's interesting isn't it?

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