Sunday, 6 June 2010

Off My Beaten Track

Northern Pintail male & female

June is the only month in which I have never recorded Northern Pintail in the county, so what better reason for diverting away from the usual and trying the much under-visited Rodden Hive. There was little chance of seeing any in the plumage above (photo from the internet), but this location along with Poole Harbour are about the best bets hereabouts. I only had the 'winter season' bus timetable but considered that should be close enough to the summer schedule, but did start off a little earlier to catch the X53 stopping off to find the Coot nest, previously destroyed by Apex Divers was thankfully back in business. While gazing over the Westham Bridge parapet I noticed the Jurassic Coast bus heading for the sea-front, and as well I did allow the extra time as this was it, leaving a full 25 minutes before the winter service.

Coot, back in residence but surely there's a cleaner part of Radipole Lake!

Only ever having caught this service to its final destination, Exeter, I was unsure of the stops en-route quickly being told by the driver that there was no stop at Langton Herring, but he agreed to set me down there - there's a 'pint' in whenever he wants it. This saved a good deal of time as the official nearest stop was about 1.5 miles away and I was already champing at the bit.

Stepping off the bus, the roadside verges were covered in Ladies Smock and it was fortunate I didn't step on this clump.

The views across the rolling Dorset countryside, as you walk to the small hamlet of Langton Herring, are spectacular,

and if that were not enough, the Hawthorn (May blossom) was also in full flower disturber only by a good number of Whitethroat, several Pheasant and a lone Green Woodpecker.

Although a little more modern in many ways than the archetypal Dorset village, Langton is one of my favorites, but as stated before I don't visit as often as I might!

The church of St Peter is a small ancient Gothic building of stone, comprising chancel, nave, south aisle, south porch and low square embattled west tower.

The tower is 18th century but the rest of the church is medieval although it has the usual Victorian restoration. It seats 180 and the registers date from 1682.

The Village Hall constructed in 1895, the pink flower is Common Valerian.

A few dwellings just before reaching the pathway to the Fleet and Slipway.

Again the views are extraordinary, and when expanded show:-

The Hardy Monument, a tribute to Nelson's Sea Captain, Thomas Masterman Hardy who was born in the village of Portesham in the valley below the column.

Saint Catherine's Chapel is thought to have been built in the first half of the fifteenth century as a Pilgrim chapel for Abbotsbury Abbey. Its position on the top of a hill about 80 m (260 ft) high, overlooking the coast from Portland Bill to Bridport, meant that it was a prominent feature for seafarers. The construction is notably robust in order to withstand the elements; the walls (made of locally quarried ashlar stone) are 4 ft thick and supported by stout buttresses, and the roof is (very unusually) also made of stone.

Which way now?

Rodden Hive, a small bay in the Fleet nestles below Langton Village and is protected on 3 sides by rolling hills, while on the fourth side the mighty Chesil Beach guards it from the sea.

Poppy & Daisy

I just know this as Field Poppy, but with over 120 varieties to choose from who knows. Suffice to say that it great to see them once again punctuating crop fields and the like.

From the brow of the hill this sea of Ox-eyed Daisies came into view, and the SW breeze became more apparent out of the lee.

and on closer inspection.

Only c2 Yellowhammer were seen but there were also plenty of Skylarks throughout, a couple of Mistle Thrushes, singles of Jay, Kestrel and another Green Woodpecker.

female Common Blue Butterfly.

Cuckoo Spit (so called, as it starts to appear on plants the same time as the Cuckoo bird arrives) is in fact plant froth sucked from stems to protect the nymphs of various species of Froghopper. The little green 'bug' within gains protection from predators as the spit as it is acidic, as well as provision of moisture and defence against the elements. The meadows today were swamped with the stuff.

Small Heath Butterfly

Large Skipper Butterfly, in addition to which there were a number of Yellow Shell Moths and what appeared to be many Grass-veneer Moths.

Arriving at the cove there seemed to be but a few birds, not surprising perhaps given the presence of this 'dog' Fox, but after a 2 hour vigil the following had been recorded. A handful of Black-headed Gulls, 2 Little Egret, 13 Shelduck, 3 Pintail, a pair of Wigeon, 9 Grey Heron, 4 Mallard, 18 Mute Swan with just one Cygnet, singles of Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Yellow Wagtail and an out of season Red-breasted Merganser. Good birdwatching I thought given the time of year!

The usually squelchy clay fore-shore was dry enough to walk a I started east, while the decaying and also dries Zostra Sea Grass providing a springy cushion. Above the Langton Herring Coastguard Cottages.

This male Linnet was the first of many to show as I walked towards Herbury, and the c2 Partridges that alighted from the path before me were thought to be Greys?

Just before reaching this 'finger post' c2 more, this time definitely, Grey Partridge took to the air allowing good flight views.

Red Admiral Butterfly, in addition to which Small Tortoiseshell & Speckled Wood Butterflies were see as was my first Silver Y Moth of the year.

A 'birder' at Herbury.

One of the Buttercup family.

At West Fleet Farm this fine small herd of what are thought to be Charolette Cows were worth a look, and as luck would have it, this coincided with the appearance of a female Wheatear and a pair of singing Corn Buntings.

Don't mention the Second World War bunker.

I'm thinking these are Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars as the lateral white dots are right, but see no sign of the 2 red spots at the tail end. Maybe they are freshly hatched?

and as I was walking up Fleet Lane,

this little fella appeared.

A movement in the grass alerted me to its presence,

followed by an excursion across the road,

after a little jump or two, then

disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. I'm calling this Weasel as there is no pronounced dark end to the tail, unless advised otherwise.

A Dog Rose.

The full extent of my walk today is part of England's first UNESCO designated World Heritage site, considered of great importance to Earth Science. The whole site stretches some 95 miles, starting at Studland, Dorset to the east and ending at Exmouth, Devon in the west. Representing some 185 million years of Earth's history, in some parts at the western end rocks have been proven to be 250 million years old. The site includes the world famous Chesil Bank which is thought to comprise of some 100 million tons of pebbles, naturally sorted by size, with small gravel to the west and large potato size cobbles at the Portland end (east). The beach has been calculated as moving 5 meters inland every century, sit and watch long enough and you'll see that's true!

To be continued........

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