Friday, 12 March 2010

The 'Ton-Up' Kid

Grey Wagtail

With an almost total lack of wind, full cloud cover and no rain forecast it was definitely a day for a good look at Portland Harbour. Via the Rodwell Trail, as usual full of birdlife, it was pleasing to find Grey Wagtail still in residence and hopefully due to breed in the near future. The harbour opens to view as you arrive at Sandsfoot Castle, which brings me neatly to the last of the Monarchs to leave a mark on our local area. Henry VIII (1491 - 1547) reigned through a turbulent period during which time he commissioned the construction of much fortification, especially around our coast. In the Weymouth / Portland area we are still able to enjoy 2 of his castles, although in the case of one that may not last a lot longer.

Both castles were built during the same era, but Sandsfoot Castle, open to the elements on the northern / Weymouth shore of Portland harbour, has suffered the ravages of wind, sea, weather and cliff erosion so may not be with us for much longer. Now within the confines of a small park, the high ground offers an ideal vantage point for bird watchers searching for waterfowl in the harbour.
On the other hand Portland Castle has stood for the same time period, virtually unscathed. Safe in the sanctuary and lee of the Isle of Portland, the prevailing weather and seas have barely touched this stout building which still houses a very interesting museum.

Red-breasted Merganser (male)

With no Divers or less common Grebes to be seen, only Great Crested & Little Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and a continuously 'yaffling' Green Woodpecker were noted. With such a low tide it was easy to walk the fore-shore down to Ferry Bridge where c2 Brent Geese, c3 Little Egret, c83 Dunlin and c17 Ringed Plover also entered the log. The latter was something of a milestone, being the 100th species for me in UK this year.

Ringed Plover

Continuing along the track of the disused railway, the only other additions for the day were a number of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and a lone Kestrel. At my destination, after enquiring about the buildings below, I found this Cormorant and while not a rare bird thought it looked rather resplendent and worth a photograph.


Of local interest.
If like me you have been curious to know what the new building on the old heli-port is, look no further. The new Royal Yachting Association HQ is made up of an office complex on the ground floor, a series of about 30 cabins on levels 2, 3 & 4 plus galley and restaurant on the top level. This is for the exclusive use of RYA members, so unlike the National Sailing Academy (Olympic Complex) you, me and Joe Public will not be welcome, so doubt we'll be seeing any Somali Asylum Seekers or unmarried mums in the area.

and while I was 'poking my nose in', also found out that the old heli-port office complex plus the Control Tower come under the cover of a 'Listed Building'. I was further informed that there are plans in existence to convert it into some kind of accommodation.