Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's Not Only the Weather That's Warming Up

Sedge Warbler

One look at the sky this morning said it could be a promising bird day, I was not disappointed. While the songs of both Chiffchaff and Goldcrest are now a daily occurrence the migration has been slow starting, to say the least, so a small passage of Sand Martins at Radipole was a sure sign that something was happening. 50 or so were counted before reaching the kissing-gate, where a passing Sparrowhawk made counting a little easier as it was mobbed by the hirrundines. A few Meadow Pipits were also passing overhead as a now seemingly resident Great Spotted Woodpecker also showed, accompanied by the song of several Willow Warblers. However, it was the reed-beds that produced the best birds with an unseen singing Reed Warbler plus, new for the year, c3 Sedge Warblers.

Redstart (male) the first I have ever recorded on Lodmoor in all these years.

The walk to Lodmoor via Greenhill produced c3 Great Crested Grebe, a single Great Northern Diver and c3 Commic Terns, all in Weymouth Bay, with the latter having nothing to do with vaudeville. The expression is used to describe distant and unidentifiable Common or Arctic Terns which to the trained eye can at least be deduced as one or the other. On, or more properly above, the moor Sand Martins were now arriving in good numbers and while impossible to count where in 'hundreds rather than 'tens'. Among them were just a few Swallows, raising hopes of something a little different. By now I had been joined by Dick Morris and Daragh Croxson, and it wasn't long before DC produced a fine male Redstart, another first for the year. Not overly obliging, it did afford decent views plus a photo opportunity before our attentions were cast in the direction of c2 beautifully marked Black-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage


Yesterday's Common Sandpiper, found by Dick, had been missed by Daragh, but I gave him some hope of catching up when I heard one call from the body of the reserve. It wasn't long before he too caught up with that c3 Black-headed Gulls and a Green Woodpecker probably making it the best Spring day thus far.

It was now time to catch the bus to Ferry Bridge, where once again there was an acute lack of birds, but it was interesting to note that work had once again commenced on the protection fence for the Little Tern colony (or the lack of it depending on which view you take). After the RSPB debacle of last year, when returning birds found their way barred by workers still hammering in fence posts and erecting signs as late as the 4th May, I was given to understand that all funding had now been withdrawn from this project. With a sigh of relief, I then predicted success in 2010 but it seems the 'management'? continues.

At Barleycrates, a splendid flock of Linnets (male above) were gorging on seed heads, while not too far up the path a further c2 male Redstarts and a male Stonechat were feeding on the ground, under the watchful eye of a female Kestrel. c6 Wheatear appeared before I reached the cliff, as did c5 more at Reap Lane.

Little else of note was seen between there and the Observatory except for Annie the horse lady who, on seeing me, looked to show signs of relief. Knowing of my travel plans, she thought I had been abducted by Ecuadorian Head Hunters and was, kindly, just pleased to see me safe and well.

At the Obs my luck continued, having barely finished making a cup of coffee, as this smart little gentleman was teased from a mist net. Because of their sharp contrast, I just love 'black & white' birds (particularly the Warbler) but this fine Pied Flycatcher is probably the best of the bunch. Coffee break over, and armed with some insider information of Slavonian Grebe still being present at the north side of Portland Harbour I was off again, clocking a male Blackcap and a couple of Peacock Butterflies at Culverwell as I went. Unfortunately, I found no sign of the Grebe, but by way of a bonus the trees and bushes of the Rodwell Trail (the old Weymouth to Portland railway line) were alive with the song of both Blackcaps and Willow Warblers.

and finally, even if you are not a 'muso' this fine array of guitars and amplifiers will surely impress. The centerfold of Black Rock the new offering from Joe Bonamassa shows just some of his vast collection. For those who know their guitars, among these will be seen a Fender 'Secret Mod' Rory Gallagher Stratocaster (phew I wish), a Gibson 1959 Les Paul 'Gary Moore', a Gibson 1976 Bicentennial Firebird while the lad himself is stood holding 'the immortal' 1959 Reissue Gibson Flying V. For a better view 'left click' the picture.

Apologies for the quality of the scan.

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