Thursday, 22 April 2010

Another Day At The Office

With a little more cloud cover this morning it initially felt a few degrees warmer when I left home, but it soon became apparent that the wind had veered even more towards the east and was equally chilly. In the cemetery the Jays were still active, while at the Radipole kissing gate it seemed very much like the Lesser Whitethroat was once again holding territory at the traditional site. That was about all bird wise, with the Common Sandpipers gone, but there was an almost perfectly intact Mallard's egg shell on the path. With just a narrow split, it looked like Charlie Crow and been in action somehow sucking out all the goodness from within?

The empty Mallard's egg.

It was only when I arrived on the Esplanade did I feel the full effect of the wind, which was only about 15 knots but added a wind chill component to the already cold temperature. There were a couple of unidentifiable Terns in Weymouth Bay, but of note, all the merchant ships had left (maybe a sign of an economic upturn?) leaving just 2 Royal Naval Destroyers carrying out anchoring drills. I noticed they were communicating to each other by morse code on an Aldis lamp, something I thought may have been superseded by now given modern technology. I remember when I did my Mates ticket in 1976 how I struggled with semaphore, but by the time I did Masters it too had been, thankfully, consigned to the bin. It surprised me that I could still read the message, but being in the usual 4 letter code format was unable to make head nor tail of it. Probably as well as they wouldn't want the public to know they are going to blow Osmington Village off the face of the map tomorrow!

The moor was alive with bird song, not least this Sedge Warbler, trying to attract a mate but both Common and Lesser Whitethroats were also doing their share. The small Dunlin flock had diminished by 50% from yesterday, now comprising just c11 birds, but Common Sandpipers still remained at c3.

Common Sandpiper, this one being quite confiding this morning.

In the north west corner there were still a number of Hirundines Swallow, House & Sand Martin which today had been joined by about a dozen Swifts. Walking the sea wall c3 Little Terns were flying and fishing close to the shingle beach, while just a little further off-shore there were c2 Common Terns doing likewise.

Common Tern


Little Tern


On Portland, starting at Barleycrates, c4 Redstarts appeared in quick succession including my first female of the year, to be followed by a male Blackcap, c4 Whinchat, a small passage of Wheatear appearing to fly straight through and a fairly close look at c3 Gannets as they flew along the west cliff.

Ring Ouzel

From Reap Lane, across Top Fields to the Observatory was all but devoid of birds, except for a steady trickle of Swallows, but at Culverwell there was news of a Ring Ouzel in the next field. While this Blackbird like bird with white bib does show up occasionally in the Autumn, this really is the best opportunity to see them in Dorset. Having spent 15 -20 minutes looking in the reported field with no luck, I decided to follow another birder up the Sweethill footpath where, some yards ahead of me, he flushed it. It remained on an elder bush for about 2 minutes, affording me a good view, before disappearing into the heart of the bush and not being seen again. The person who had reported it to me came up the field some minutes later, but alas to late to see the bird. Today's individual was a female, who's bib is always duller than the male.

Finally, while leaving Culverwell, for a much needed coffee, I was approached by a Brumie lad and his family who asked if it was me making complaint about the Marsh Harriers at Radipole. On such occasions I'm inclined to ask "who wants to know" and especially after yesterdays incident on the Radipole footbridge. If they say 'good on ya' then I admit who I am, alternatively if they are staunch RSPB followers I'd simply say "good bit of management burning the Marsh Harrier nest down wasn't it"? This bloke said he recognised me from this Blog and was most complimentary and supportive, telling what the RSPB were destroying up his way.