Sunday, 18 April 2010

As Pristine As A Newt

Grasshopper Warbler - a photograph by my mate Steve Bird of Birdseekers who I'm sure won't mind the loan. How are you and Gina?

In early morning sunshine and light airs, the day started in sharp contrast to yesterday on a huge high. A 'local patch tick' is always welcome, and while it wasn't literally the first bird recorded a vocal Grasshopper Warbler (Gropper) was soon in the log. These extremely skulking birds are easy to hear, with their prolonged Grasshopper like 'reeling', but a devil to see. This one probably hadn't read the book as it kept popping out from the dense vegetation, but every time far too quick for the camera.

Linnet male

With little more than single Blackcap and Yellow Wagtail at Radipole and no restrictions on the bus pass, it was quickly on to Portland, where there was immediate evidence of a 'fall' of migrants. A singing Sedge Warbler was soon located and seen at the root of Barleycrates, as no fewer than a further c7 Groppers, 2 each of male Redstart and Yellow Wagtail and another Sedge Warbler were also seen before reaching the Observatory. There, and at Culverwell a few birds were being caught and during a welcome coffee I joined the Cade girls in a little 'pond dipping'. Emily and Georgia Cade, daughters to (Warden) Martin and Sharron were born into nature and always seem to be busying themselves with drawing or wildlife projects. Knowing precious little about Newts, I was at least interested to view their captures from the pond which amounted to 14 of these nifty little reptiles. Smooth and Palmate are both present in the Obs pond and my only chance of identifying either was the 'webbed' hind toes of the later.

Smooth Newt with no webs between the hind toes, a perfect little thing!

Palmate Newt? I think I can see the toe webs on this specimen? It could be the same Newt.

Retraced my steps finding my first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year plus a fly over Peregrine, I caught the bus home with images of that final raptor I got to thinking about the story Dave and Anne Rashley had told me yesterday.

Speckled Wood


Walking the Bill Fields in the week, the Rashley's had seen a Peregrine take a Carrion Crow, an uncommon sight. This reminded me of one day on the Oil Rig when a juvenile bird showed up and immediately took a Great Black-backed Gull midair, a formidable prey species to say the least. It made a little altitude, holding tight to the Gull, but soon lost strength and fell into the sea with it. Weight combined with surface tension were enough to beat the Peregrine, but all was not done. Early nest morning, having roosted in the derrick, it decided on something slightly smaller, killing and eating an adult Herring Gull. On the third day it took yet another Great Black-backed Gull, landing on deck where a scuffle followed. Killing the Gull, the Peregrine was exhausted and easy to catch with a make shift cage being made, and transported on the next 'chopper to the Vet, after which it was released. I have researched this, and while I can find evidence of Peregrine taking Grey Heron, there seems to be no record of them taking these two species of Gulls.

Peregrine with its kill, an adult Herring Gull.

Peregrine in captivity and

awaiting transportation to the beach.

While away in South America, and especially in Argentina, I made a number of references to a complex I have with the Argentinian people. In 2007 I visited Grytviken, South Georgia where there was yet another reminder of what was wrongly described as The Falklands War. The main thrust of the visit was to view the redundant Whaling Station and maybe more importantly the resting place of the 'great' Earnest Henry Shackleton. This done I silently wandered through the graveyard and came across the grave of Felix Artuso, the only (Argentinian) Submariner to die in the conflict. This in turn got me thinking of Margaret Thatcher, who in my view is guilty of murder, but I need not get too emotive. As a self confessed 'God Fearing' woman she has little time left now before she meets her maker, and will of course also meet all those young innocent boys from the Belgrano, who she ordered HM Submarine Conqueror to sink. The in's and out's and why's and wherefore's are irrelevant now, but I just hope the Argentinians can forgive us, they are a colossal nation where I hope I can visit again and receive the same welcome as last time. Thank you The Clowns, Thank you Frenso and Mates, thank you Argentina.

The remote graveyard at Grytviken, South Georgia.

Earnest Shackleton RiP a GREAT man.

Felix Artuso seaman on Submarine Santa Fe, also RiP.

I left my own Submarine Dolphins (broach) among the poppies here in respect of this unnecessary waste of life.

It may be of interest to know that the Belgrano, a former US Battleship, was known as 'Lucky' having survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Thatcher soon put paid to that, but one day her luck will run out as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment