Friday, 2 July 2010

A Whale of a Time

I was woken this morning by what has become an unfamiliar sound, RAIN on the window, so getting up slow time I even allowed myself a look at the news sat down. Taking the opportunity to phone Lisa (my youngest) in Australia it was fantastic to hear her second pregnancy is progressing well, and fingers crossed I'll be a Granddad again in late January. By mid-morning there had been no let up, in fact the downpour had got harder, but then came the incentive I needed to get out. Both Daragh and Paul text to announce a Roseate Tern at Lodmoor, and with this dainty little sea bird becoming less frequent here it was a must to enjoy the moment. On arrival, there were a couple of casual birders in the shelter but they had not heard of or seen it, but it took a matter of moments before we were sharing the sight together.

Common Tern left with Roseate Tern.

It is a bit of a pity that things are usually so distant at Lodmoor, but distant is better than none.

A small patch of Lesser Reed Mace along the roadside.

and a blast from the past

Flicking through an old photograph album this morning, I came across these shots of Minke Whales at the Buchan Alpha Oil Rig location in the North Sea.

Just 2 of a pod of 5 that stayed close to the rig for 6 days (must have been plenty of food there at the time) and were seen, via the powerful deck lights, every night resting directly below the platform. Looking as if they were asleep, on occasion they were seen to spend long periods on their backs showing distinctive white underparts.

and finally my last letter to the RSPB

From: []
Sent: 26 June 2010 20:21
To: Alsbury, Sarah
Subject: Little Tern Colony

Dear Ms Alsbury

For 40 years I have been both interested and concerned by the various Tern colonies in and around the Weymouth & Portland area. For a decade and a half I was probably the sole monitor of the colony on the Middle Arm Breakwater in Portland Harbour where, as the local Ministry of Defense Conservation Officer, I witnessed the successful breeding of Common, Arctic and Roseate Terns. I have had long association with Don Moxom, Fleet Warden, and successive Wardens at the Portland Bird Observatory, including the present incumbent, with all my records
committed to the Dorset archive. In addition, I annually took it upon myself to liaise with Commander Air at the now defunct Royal Naval Air Station, Portland in an attempt (not always successful) to keep his aircraft away from this area during the breeding season.

In recent years I have watched the decline of the Little Tern colony in the Ferry Bridge area of Chesil Beach, despite the staunch efforts of a number of organisations and many individuals including myself. Last year I was dismayed to find some of these guardians still erecting fence posts, notice boards and fencing as late as 18th May. I made an immediate approach to an RSPB representative suggesting this date was far too late to be carrying out such works, while pointing out to them c37 Little Terns attempting to occupy the colony.The outcome is well documented!

This year, whether due to my actions or by other design, the works were finished just as the Terns started to arrive back from their winter quarters and unlike last year a number of pairs have both laid eggs and hatched young. I was therefore incensed to find, given the extreme fragility of this colony, that someone (in authority) deemed it necessary to enter the colony and 'ring' c5 chicks. I have approached John Dadds on this matter (who kindly gave me much of his time) and I have also been privy to your own reply to an e-mail from Paul Harris.

While I haven't been convinced by either of you as to the value of the banding or even the slightest disturbance, I would take your word for it that these actions were taken under the correct, legal documentation. Having said that, I would like the opportunity to view the certificates generated to ring this Schedule 1 Species, but imagine that would be asking too much?

However, that brings me to an even more serious event that was witnessed on 16th June 2010; the day after the first chick was hatched, when an identified individual was seen within the colony photographing the said young bird. Can I have your assurance that if you are unaware of this incident you will investigate it in full, but either way give me a plausible reason for anyone to be invading the colony for a second time?

It has been my unpleasant duty over the past few weeks to bring to the attention of both the RSPB (Nick Tomlinson, John Dadds et al) and a wider audience, shortfalls in professional standards, some in my view contrary to the 1981 Wildlife & Countryside Act, at a number of sites Managed / Wardened by the RSPB. This I have done by means of a Blog, which you may like to view, where you will see I have been criticised, not least by the 2 people aforementioned, for my un-gentlemanly approach - they are of course entitled to their point view.

So far I have kept this latest matter much to myself, in an effort to take what might be considered the "gentlemanly" approach and by contacting you, but I am considering publishing all details on Monday evening. Further, should I not receive a satisfactory and convincing reply, and because I believe this to be an offense contrary to Schedule One of the said Act (by definition an arrestable offense), I shall also seek the advice of the Dorset Police.

Yours aye

Captain Paul F Baker

I will publish their reply tomorrow!

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