Sunday, 11 April 2010

Wot, Me Seawatching?

The first noticeable thing about this morning was the overnight drop in temperature. With the wind seemingly in the south east (often difficult to tell in the heart of suburbia) and the cloud cover 7 octas it seemed far too cold. However, my mind was soon diverted from that as almost immediately entering the cemetery I found not one but c2 Jays. Creating quite a racket and chasing each other from tree to tree, this habitat of Holm Oak a variety of 'berry bearing' bushes and on the whole undisturbed, seems idea for bringing up a family if you are a Jay.
A 'borrowed' shot of a Jay

Apart from displaying Goldfinch there was little else of note there, but over on Radipole Reserve the star birds were Cetti's Warbler, showing well, many vocal, pairs 'chasing' each other and even one couple copulating. At the shelter I heard the long awaited 'call' of a Yellow Wagtail and had no trouble picking up a very bright male flying to the north. In addition there were c12 Pochard plus a few Common Snipe opposite the Visitor's Center but it was now time to catch the bus.

Since the issue of the 'bus pass', nearly 4 years ago now, I have got to know many of the drivers and today's was cock 'a' hoop at not only having had £20 'on the nose' of yesterdays Grand National winner but an 'each way' bet on the 4th placed. At Wyke Regis, Ken Parker got onboard and I'm always happy to have a wander round with him. Barleycrates proved devoid, while the West Cliff walk produced just a single Tree Pipit but along with the Wagtail was the second 'year tick' of the day for me. Through Top Fields and down to the Observatory things were little better (in fact worse) until a Whitethroat and the amazing male Redstart below were taken from a mist net.

Redstart male

After a coffee and a good deal of banter, John Down and I headed for the Trinity House Obelisk to concentrate on the sea for a while. By no means my favourite division of birdwatching (given a lifetime at sea) it is for many the highlight of the whole game and can be extremely rewarding for those who have the patience. Before arrival we did stop to watch the abseiling painters giving the lighthouse a couple of coats, which reminded me of the endless hours I must have spent in a Boatswain's Chain painting a variety of ship-sides.

The mechanical 'stage' working Portland's active lighthouse.

A closer view

At the waters edge there was some reward for us as John first pick up c3 Common Scoter flying distantly to the north, and in quick succession followed up with c5 Manx Shearwater flying in the opposite direction. From Pulpit Rock we could see a good number of mixed Auks (Guillemot & Razorbill) on the sea below the cliff at the Admiralty Compound and considered it worth a walk up the hill to check for Puffin. Unfortunately, none were found but the sight of the other beautiful seabirds in breeding livery and closer quarters was well worth the extra few yards. By now, the wind had 'backed' to the north east and the temperature had dropped accordingly, but didn't appear to deter c2 Swallows flying in from seaward.


On the way home I saw this Road Safety poster, part of a no nonsense campaign by Dorset Police to prevent accidents, on a Wyke telephone box. It quickly dawned on me that the lady in the picture is none other than our dear, collective family friend Diane Critchlow. Partner of James Stockley (Sooty Jnr to me) who is the son of my longest standing friend in Weymouth. Except for one brief encounter, I haven't seen Diane since my 60th birthday party where, despite the presence of my own 2 daughters she was the 'Belle of the Ball'. It was good to see you again today Diane!

Diane (out of working gear) with partner Sooty Junior at the party

and for extremely 'good measure' my 2 little girls at the same party. Some memories there for you eh Lisa? and I still think yours were the best shoes Julie.

PS Jon Storey sends his love. I didn't show his face as I don't want to frighten the chickens.