Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Birds & Boats

With a late afternoon report of a Rosy Starling on the roof of the Belvedere pub, it was fortuatous that along with Bowie and Sheila I was going to JD Wetherspoon's, yet again, for a shoulder of lamb. Unfortunately, there was no sign of a Starling of any sort as was the case on both occasions I checked today.

The weatherman said this morning that the south coast would feel a full 4 degrees warmer than yesterday, but couldn't say I felt any one of them. Nevertheless, it was a fine morning with a few birds to be seen. Met at the Radipole kissing-gate by at least c2 singing Bullfinch plus a single Chiffchaff, a little further along the path was a bright male Wheatear, not at all common on this reserve. As usual a number of Moorhens were feeding along the verges, while c5 Pochard remain on site with several each of Teal, Gadwall and Shelduck.

Despite their common status, I have always considered the Moorhen one of our most striking birds.

So much so that my dear friend Sarah Lindsay painted this much treasured oil, presenting it to me on behalf of my rig mate, her dad Andy Lindsay and brother Shaun on the occasion of my 60th birthday.

Only seen briefly this morning, the Wheatear is by no means common at Radipole.

Gadwall male

Gadwall female

It was positively cold as I walked along the seafront to Lodmoor, and with no bird life the interest turned to shipping. The state of the economy (as if we need an indicator) can be judged by the number of merchant vessels swinging idly at anchor in Weymouth Bay week after week and so far there seems to have been little improvement. There was however an interesting looking warship, disappearing to the south, which I was not able to identify and what looked every bit like a brand new Assault/Logistics vessel also at anchor. With no pennant numbers on her hull I have been unable to name her but hopefully I'll be able to get closer views later in the week.

Barnacle Goose left, with Canada Goose for size comparison.

On the moor a single Barnacle Goose was still in attendance, and with the extraordinary number recorded in the county so far this year it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this is a genuinely 'wild' bird, in oppose to an escapee. In addition to this, c2 Reed Warblers were in song as were single Willow Warbler and Water Rail but the sound of the day issued from a small group of Bearded Tit hidden in the reed bed. A few Hirundines were also overhead, but no House Martin for me so far, and as I walked the length of Beechdown Way no fewer than c8 Cetti's Warblers were singing and occasionally showing. Before leaving the reserve there was a phone call to say an Osprey was flying more or less right over my head, but I didn't get a glimpse - ever onward.

Rock Pipit

It was now time for the 'bus pass' to come into play, so returned to Weymouth then onward to Ferry Bridge. Unlike yesterday, there were at least some birds on the fore-shore but only amounted to a single Great Black-backed Gull and c7 Herring Gulls. Again it was time to move, deciding to have a go for the Eider that has been regular on Portland Harbour close to the castle. Unfortunately, it was not to be but a pair of 'courting' Rock Pipit and a handful of Red-breasted Merganser did make for some enjoyment.

Before leaving this area, I was able to get a closer look at the jack-up barge only seen and photographed through a haze yesterday. She is the Antwerp registered Vagant built in 2002 and currently owned by GeoSea, Belgium. Specialising in wind turbine deployment we can only assume she is here, with attendant tug Multratug 17, to do just that.