Friday, 19 March 2010

Rain Stops Play!

'Calling' Black Redstart in Pottery Lane

Visibility was down to about zero when I left home this morning but so was the wind making for a mild start, neither of which deterred a Song Thrush from bursting into vocals at 04-00. The first Chiffchaff in the cemetery this year was in similar voice, but a real surprise was a Black Redstart 'calling' from a rooftop just across the road in Pottery Lane. The bird itself was not unexpected, but this was only the second time I have ever heard one producing vocals in the UK. As I crossed the bye-pass, with the Black-start following and invading Radipole airspace, the fog simply drifted up the Wey Valley and disappeared from the area.

A male Pochard undertaking ablutions.

There were more Chiffs on the reserve, c3 to be precise, but little else except for c5 Pochard, a pair of displaying Canada Geese, 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebe, a fly-by Shelduck plus c47 Common Snipe. Down at the Westham sluices the Hooded Merganser was also displaying and soliciting just about every waterfowl in residence in, I guess, another vain attempt to find a mate. In such fine plumage I find it impossible to walk past without taking a photograph, reproduced here for your pleasure.


Hooded Merganser


Ditto in 'courting' mode.

With the fog gone and the day brightening by the minute, the best bet was thought to be Portland. With the tide pressed hard up against the wall at Ferry Bridge there was little point of a stopping there, so continues onto the Island which is when I caught up with the mist and rain again. Alighting at the George pub on Reforne and happening across another Black Redstart at the Royal Manor School, the rain continued but I persisted through Barleycrates. All I found there was another Chiffchaff, after which, apart from a small flock of Linnets, there was nothing down to the Observatory. The intent was to have a coffee and assess the weather but bumped into Ken Parker, recently returned for Sri Lanka, who was unfortunately in a bit of a hurry so no time to hear his story (never mind Ken, I'll catch you next time). With an offer of a lift back to Weymouth with John Down and lady-friend Mo, the rain seemingly set in for the day I accepted. There, we spent a short time in the north hide, Radipole before heading to my house for coffee. With more or less a captive audience, it was time for a couple of tracks of Joe Bonamassa, but these 2 serious muso's needed no captivating as they had already taken a punt on Joe via my recommendation on this Blog. In possession of 2 albums, they had not seen the 'Live from the Royal Albert Hall' DVD, and while playing the conversation darted from one music legend to another. Thanks for coming over guys!

Round the table from left Bob and Anne Clark, Don & Liz Moxom, Nigel and (my eldest) Julie plus Caroline and Nick Tomlinson, all saluting with an Estonian chocolate.

The back end of the day was given over to some serious socialising, as 9 of us met up at the Imperial Garden restaurant in Dorchester. A convivial evening much given over to thoughts of my Estonian lady-friend Ille, we toasted her health with some of the chocolates she had sent to us as a gift.

The Master of Ceremonies with his new bag!!