Saturday, 10 April 2010

Good News From Radipole

Another sparkling start to the day, but again no sign of visible migration and little change on the birding front, with one huge exception. What was visible, the first being right outside my garden gate, were a series of deflated 'hot air balloons'. Each about 2 feet in diameter and constructed of a light metal hoop and a plastic bag, the first being consigned to my bin, the next 2 festooning local tree and a fourth in the cemetery, someone had enjoyed a great party?

While Bearded Tits are given to keeping a low profile at the start of their breeding cycle, it is most unusual not to see or hear one of these little beauties on Radipole for the full length of March and more. That was put to rights this morning as c3 dropped out of the cloudless sky, feed on reed-tops for 5 minutes before flying off and landing in the area of North Hide. Apart from these the only other addition to recent days was a singing Goldcrest somewhere along the drive.

Blackbird at Lodmoor

By the time I reached Greenhill the jacket and scarf were already off, while on Lodmoor there seemed to have been an eruption of Rabbits all taking advantage of the sunshine and lush, new, green grass. Both Common and Green Sandpiper s were still at the hump, with seemingly newly arrived Redshank and c2 Dunlin were elsewhere. Reaching the northern perimeter at text from Daragh announced the arrival of a Mandarin about as far away across the reserve as it could be. Despite the distance good views, my first ever in Dorset for April, of this extremely scarce visitor were had, plus a bonus sighting of a female Marsh Harrier. My first Green-veined White butterfly of the year was logged before a walk back from whence I came to search for a Hoopoe that had been reported by a casual observer yesterday.

One of many Rabbits

Green-veined White Butterfly

With no sign of the Hoopoe, it was time to try elsewhere so I returned to the Rodwell Trail which, with an almost total lack of birds (except c8 Blackcap), I decided another presentation of this area may be welcomed for those not familiar.

Part of the course of the defunct Weymouth to Portland railway, the path starts on the Westham side of Radipole Lake and runs to Ferry Bridge, the 'gateway' to Portland.

I don't know who resurrected the authentic 'Station Signs', but hearty congratulations to them. As I view them i can hear that heady sound of the small steam locos that plied this route and admit to letting forth a train whistle sound on occasion.

Justify FullThe tree along the route, predominantly Beech with a sprinkling of Elder and Willow, form an arch blocking out much of the light and causing a eerie feel.

The place names are shown in geographic order from north to south. Only a few paces from Sandsfoot Halt the trees give way to a superb vista across Portland Harbour.

To the north east the old Admiralty torpedo and diving establishment of Bincleaves can be seen, with the 'hole' in the breakwater being the 'secondary' North Ship Channel.

The Middle Arm Breakwater can be seen in this image, with the 'main' East Ship Channel and just before the 'toe' of Portland, the South Ship Channel the resting place of the First World War battleship HMS Hood.

Finally, The Isle of Portland opens to view, with Chesil Beach to the right and just a glimpse of the Sandsfoot Castle cliff.

The last station on the Weymouth side before crossing the Small Mouth Channel, as can be see the sign has been injured by some vandal, oh for a chance to catch them in the act!

Looking every bit like the 'end of the line' the path no longer crosses Small Mouth, since the demolition of the old rail bridge, but a short diversion takes the walker over the new road bridge and the continuation of the path to Portland.

My day ended on a fantastic high on the X53 Jurassic Coast bus where, at the King's Statue, a young Royal Navy leautenant accompaied by an even younger lady cadet, both most unusually in uniform climbed aboard. They obviously had a problem, which the driver seemed unable to tackle, but by now my antenna were switched to full eavesdropping. For some reason they didn't have the fare to get back to Dartmouth which I never did find out, but was only too willing to cover the fare. So many times I have been in a similar situation, so found it refreshing to be able to even the score. In such positions it's not only great to help but also I believe these small acts of kindness will spread as one day each of these young people will follow suit. The best £10 I've spent this year!

and on such a 'sunny' day what a way to finish with a laugh at the biggest JOKE of the week:-

I'm looking forward to reading the Dorset Echo report of the trial of the first irresponsible dog owner to be fined £5,000 for not having a lead - there is no shortage of potential as few of them choose to abide by the LAW!

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