Saturday, 17 April 2010

Too Big to Fly, Dodo Ugly So Dodo Must Die!

The Coot's nest of yesterday is reproduced as the only chance any of you will get to see it, today it lay destroyed.

It's been a splendid day today on both bird and people front, but did kick off to a bad start. Checking, as I have done for the past week or so, the Coots nest at the Westham Bridge sluices, I found total decimation. I can only think that this was at the hands of Apex Divers, but with no hard evidence what could be done, or for that matter who gives a damn - it's ONLY a Coot! For the rest of the day the lyric of the splendid protest song Dodo by Genesis (from the Abacab album) was ringing in my ears but it ain't funny ask the fly on the wall, it's only living it don't matter at all!

Wheatear male

Radipole produced, yet again, a blank but as there is no restriction on the 'bus pass' on Saturday it was onward, directly to Portland. Barleycrates was immediately looking promising as c5 Wheatear awaited my arrival at the root, as further along there were another c10, along with c2 smart male Redstarts, a male Stonechat and a steady trickle of Swallows. Close to the cliff I met up with Graham Bright and John Williamson, neither had I seen since my South America trip, and leaving Graham, JW and I accompanied each other to the Observatory. On the way we encountered no 'birders' at all, while along the way we saw a few Linnet, Goldfinch, a single House Martin, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff and at the Admiralty fence I caught just a snippet of a singing Sedge Warbler.

Stonechat male


The Obs was buzzing with people from home and away, and only 2 paces inside the gate I had already identified Edwin Welland and Vaughn Ashby discussing Committee business. On the patio Professor Peter Morgan had already settled into his usual slot, supervising the bird ringing programme, which today involved a young Italian lady who gave those present a most informative description of how a male Blackcap is aged by feather structure and moult.

A male Blackcap in safe hands.

Chris Cook (right) & Friend at the Portland Bird Observatory this morning.

The greatest surprise and pleasure however came when the huge frame of Chris Cook hove into view, on a holiday with his friend from Tokyo, Japan. I remember well the day Chris, a a young lad (maybe about 17?) arrived at this very placed, and announced how he was going to visit Japan maybe to seek his fortune. No one, least of all a young 'cow-lad' from Puncknowle, just moseyed off to anywhere remotely as distant as Japan, and amid a deal of ridicule he fulfilled his dream. To cut a very long story short, he has now lived in the 'Land of the Rising Sun' for many years, with just one of his many successes including his position as the Fashion Editor for the Japan Times. It has been 7 years since the pair visited us here, but during that time I found myself in Tokyo, with 8 hour to spare, after a trek through South Korea and the full length of that fascinating country. At the airport, I spotted a copy of the said newspaper, found the address and with some help from passers-by got the tube to Chris's office. I believe he was a little surprised, to say the least, and after a drink and chat I caught my flight.

Chris Cook & Me meeting at his office in Tokyo, spring 2007

Me and the Fat Lad (Jim the Medic) enjoying a Japanese tea ceremony in Fukuoka, Japan

Well, that's enough Geisha Girls, now where's that barrel of Saki? - fun in Hiroshima.

Why this little beauty clues up with the Latin name of vulgaris I don't know. When the Starling catches the right light it become extremely photogenic.

Peacock Butterfly

On the way home I met Dave & Anne and during what was suppose to have been a short chat, c2 'calling' Tree Pipits flew over our heads just before deceased local character Simon Reagan was mentioned. Anyone who knew ex foreign correspondent for the Daily Express, Mirror, Times et al, arch enemy of Prince Charles, John Major and Edwina Curry could write a War & Peace size book about him. During his action packed life, Simon covered among many others the Kenyan Mau Mau uprising, Eoka and the IRA, whom some say took his life. Anne tells me she was the man's accountant and sometime adviser, while I was one of his drinking mates, who one day write all I know about this extraordinary bloke. None of us could pull ourselves away, all the more reason we resurrect the conversation, but the time had come. Retracing my steps, news arrived concerning 3 Ring Ouzels (a Blackbird with pale bib) at Barleycrates, but 30 minutes wasn't enough to see any of them. Across the road at The Hump there was just time to find my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year, before bussing back to Weymouth.

Getting off the bus I bumped straight into Jason and Hilary who easily qualify as my favorite Muso friends. Together we must have seen every band south of Charlton Mackerel plus many legends such as Walter Trout, Stan Webb and Mick Abrahams. The later, once 'front man' for Blodwyn Pig, is a personal friend to whom they introduced me years ago, and a couple of times subsequently, but on that score the news wasn't good. The composer of the milestone blues 'Ain't Ya Coming Home Babe', featuring Dick Heckstal-Smith on saxophone, Mick has recently suffered a serious heart attack, and is now confined to 'jamming' with his mates in Milton Keynes. We'll meet again, at the latest, when we attend The Hamsters gig at No6 at the end of the month.

Finally, an update on 'Frederick the Fantastic III'. As can be seen he's growing in leaps and bounds and now sports 2 teeth, while mum Lisa (the adorable) does her impression of Argent rocker Russ Ballard (God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You).

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