Monday, 15 March 2010

What A Day For A Daydream!

Weather-wise, probably the best day of the year so far? The wind had backed slightly, taking out that bitter northerly element, and decreased to no more than a zephyr while the sun shone, uninterrupted, from a clear blue sky. In the cemetery, Goldcrest were singing for all they are worth, and similarly on Radipole Cetti's Warbler are getting more brazen by the day. Noted as a 'skulker', when seeking a mate they often ascend a bush before letting out a most recognisable, fluid song.

Goldcrest, along with the Firecrest (featured yesterday), is the UK's smallest breeding bird at just 3 and a half inches in length and weighs just 0.2 of an ounce.

Cetti's Warbler

Later at Ferry Bridge, where the tide was still on the ebb, a dozen Brent Geese were still topping up fat reserves before heading north and c4 adult Common Gulls had also dropped in. Crossing the bridge a Greenshank, once much more common over-wintering bird hereabouts, flew up the Fleet calling, while a half grown Grey Seal languished on an exposed sandbank. The few small Waders seen were all on the harbour side of the road today, consisting of about 50 Dunlin and c17 Ringed Plover, and the c3 Little Grebe remained close by.

Greenshank (a photograph from the archives, not the bird seen this morning).

The driver of the bus to Portland was one of my former work colleagues who was pleased to hear how well I had settled into retirement. However, it seemed he was having a moment of indecision as he told me his working life was soon to terminate, and seemed to be seeking some reassurance. I simply told him that while at work I had only been 'addicted' to birdwatching, but since retirement I'd just got very much worse.

Alpaca grazing on the west cliff, I thought I'd returned from whence I had recently come.

Today's report at the Bird Observatory was once again quiet, but I always enjoy a coffee in convivial company but I was soon on my way in search of a migrant along the east cliff. That was not to be, but the weather was now so warm there was room for a little 'clout casting' and I also happened on the group pictured below.

Budding Geologists being put through their paces on the east cliff.

Another interesting feature of Portland is

this pair of Mulberry Units which was a type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy. This pair of 'Phoenixes' found a home in Portland Harbour after the landings, and have intrigued visitors and locals alike ever since. These two prefabricated or artificial military harbours were taken across the English Channel from Britain with the invading army in sections and assembled off the coast of Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion of France in 1944.

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