Friday, 16 April 2010

Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do!

For 10 days now I have been watching a pair of Coots working their little hearts out constructing this loose reed nest, and laying, so far, 3 eggs. This may not represent a full clutch, the average is 4, but chances of achieving this looked highly unlikely this morning as Apex Divers moved in to undertake what didn't look like 'life saving' works.

Floating bulks of timber across the Swannery, close to the Westham Bridge sluices, I doubt these couple of Herberts had a clue as to the disturbance they were causing and the possible failure of a breeding attempt. Someone in a position of power and responsibility has commissioned this firm to undertake this work, but where, I ask, is the RISK ASSESSMENT? The nest is just a few feet to the right of shot.

In this instance nothing to worry about, it's ONLY a Coot, but less that a mile north the final touches are being made to the Sand Martin Wall being built at the very heart of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Yesterday's headline (RSVP) served a purpose by bringing the 'Warden' of our sensative Nature Reserves out of the woodwork. Only 7 days into the struggle, this KEY player has eventually offered his invaluable comments. Last Evening Nick Quintrell, the Orchid Strimmer and Scent Marker, sent me a text, not suggesting noting your concerns, can we not try some meaningful and constructive dialogue, no, all he could muster was "thanks for the 'hatchet job', Mate" which begs the question why so long in the coming? Since raising these issues with the reserves manager Nick Tomlinson, I have encountered a number of his staff without reaction to my findings. Rather strange I thought as all I consider to be reactionary in such circumstances. No, what I think it is their boss has kept them in the dark hoping the matter will blow over (which it won't) but his hand was forced when the Dorset Echo contacted him yesterday, hence the sudden text. So, let me reassure the readership I will not be suppressed, silenced or daunted by either of these slouches who are methodically tearing apart our sacred sanctuaries!
HMS Keppel, Type 14 'Blackwood' Class Frigate

I predicted it would happen back in 1963, as Great Britain methodically plundered Icelandic Cod, I said they would get us back one day! Engaged in Fishery Protection duties at that time, I witnessed at close quarters the start of a programme to coat the UK in a carpet of volcanic ash bringing business and commerce to a halt. This beginning was called Surtsey. While patrolling these seaways, a massive sub-sea earthquake erupted forming a small island, just south of the Westerman Group. Some years later, I was on a ferry to these islands in an effort to 'twitch' Brunnich's Guillemot and thought I recognised Surtsey, now colonised by plants and Arctic Terns, in the distance. I questioned the ships Mate to find I was right, and told him that years ago I had 'landed' on the island. He assured me that no one, save a handful of scientists, had ever done so and that I must be mistaken. Soon after the eruption had subsided and cooled, HMS Keppel was deployed to survey what was a major correction to admiralty charts, where we found the Norwegians had beaten us to it planting a flag at the apex. Not to be outdone, our Gemini inflatable boat was sent to do likewise and I, as a young Ordinary Seaman, was duty bowman. Along with the Leading Seaman Coxswain and the Officer of the Day we scrambled ashore, posted the flag and returned to the sip with a box of pumice as souvenir for the crew. I think it safe to say, at the very least, I am one of only 3 Englishmen to do so?
Surtsey erupting 1963

and so to today. Another sunny, cold day with little shift in wind direction and little movement of birds. At Radipole the were more 'brickies' than birds, but a single Oystercatcher was roosting on the island, while a Sparrowhawk was searching for breakfast overhead. I never tire of the sea-front walk between the reserves (Radipole to Lodmoor) despite the lack of avian interest there is always something to be seen. Arriving to the call of a Redshank, I found c2 resting on the mud flats in company with an additional 5th Oystercatcher today. Further along a single Lapwing passed overhead and while listening to a Pheasant calling from the depths of the reed-bed, my first Swift of the year flew in. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the Grasshopper Warbler, reported by Daragh, at the south end of Beechdown Way, so returned home for breakfast.

This afternoon, dropped into JD Wetherspoon to meet up with a few mates, haddock and mushy peas from Weymouth's BEST fish and chip shop The Marlborough then catch up on a few 'domestics'. Let's hope there is some notable bird movement tomorrow!