Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Surprise First 'True' Migrant

It was an altogether greyer day today, with total cloud cover, some sign of mist and the wind backed into the southern sector, all making for a less chilly conditions. With little change close to home, Lodmoor was the next stop where a Chiffchaff was vocal, a single Black-tailed Godwit occupied the southern mud flat, a flighty Spoonbill hadn't quite decided where to settle as c3 Ravens flew to the west. Over on the beach a few scans produced a 'year tick' in the shape of a Black-throated Diver, while c2 flying and c3 settled Common Scoter, a lone Shelduck and c2 west bound Brent Geese completed the log entry from here. That's when the text arrived announcing, "Hoopoe at Southwell, still being looked for".

HMS Daring anchored in Wey Bay.

Hoping for confirmation of the Hoopoe, there was no rush to get to the bus stop so took a little time to look at what has become an all too seldom sight around here these days. A 'War Canoe' at anchor on Weymouth Bay, and not just any old warship, but HMS Daring the first of her line and Great Britain's newest. Of innovative design she is the first Type 45 air defense vessel which has been dubbed a 'stealth destroyer'. Build with extremely smooth lines, she has a very low radar threshold (said to give her the radar signature of a fishing boat) and high decontamination rating. Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Defense (NBCD) is of prime consideration in warship design, each ship being fitted with a powerful 'deluge' system capable of washing off any of these contaminates, the theory being the less nooks & crannies the cleaner the vessel becomes in such hazards. She is the 7th vessel in the Royal Navy to bear this name.

Hoopoe in 'Secrets' garden.

With the news that the bird had been pinned down to Langley Close at Southwell, Portland, two bits of good fortune then struck simultaneously. Firstly, as I waited for the bus, fellow birder Nick Hopper, heading in the same direction, stopped and kindly gave me a lift and at our destination decided to join the few 'birders' in the field at the top of Sweethill. As we were about to leave, my old 'ship mate' Gary White backed his 4x4 up the hill to let us know it was in his garden, even giving us a lift the 300 yards back to his house. After a short wait it came back and we were able to get a couple of photos, but decided to wait for more after it departed. In the meantime we were served coffee, which made for a most civilised stay, and that my first 'true' migrant was a Hoopoe being a bonus indeed.

Gary and I enjoyed some brilliant times when we shipped out together, but it was strange he was never 'christened' with the usual shipboard name of Chalky or Knocker, only ever being referred to as Gar. That is until the advert for R Whites lemonade was launch with its catchy little tune and lyric of R White's lemonade, he's a secret lemonade drinker, after which he became know as R White and subsequently as 'Secret', he's a secret lemonade drinker.

Bar-tailed Godwit

the top 2 photographs are from the archive for illustration.

These are the c4 birds seen, not exactly photogenic.

The visibility had now reduced dramatically and the fog signal was bellowing from the Bill lighthouse, so time I thought to head north. Passing Ferry Bridge on the bus, there were a few waders on the foreshore including a couple of larger individuals, so definitely worth investigating. There were in fact c4 which turned out to be Bar-tailed Godwit, in among a few each of Dunlin and Pinged Plover plus c5 Turnstone. Rapidly approaching the equinox now the tide was out about as far as it ever goes. The water was well clear of the raised beds at the oyster farm, not a sight often seen, but encountering this sign on the sea wall thought, I doubt if that is really bothering them either way at the moment.

More problems for the shellfish it would seem!