Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Rain Stop Play - Not Here!

I'd like to start today's post by extending a huge thank you to Jacqueline and all my other friends at Sotomayor, Arica, Chile for their kind thoughts. The same to Anna Piatkowska, family and friends, now returned to south east Australia, after our meeting at Hato Pinero, Venezuela for your company then and the endorsement of you invitation for me to visit you in Melbourne - I WILL come! Austrian Stefan Kainbacher for the brief but most pleasant lunch we all shared, and Doru Popovichi who gave me so much help in Bucharest. Your E-mails have been very welcome - I hope we all meet again and you pass my 'link' to all your mates. Thank You!

Grey is the only way to describe this morning, but while the rain was threatening it wasn't falling, so that meant I was out! Ferry Bridge, at the very least, seemed like an option as I made my way to The Rodwell Trail, and a cacophony of bird song. The tiny Wren was the most predominant bird, numbers singing all the way along the trail, but there were also sounds from Chiffchaff, Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroat, while House Sparrows continued to build nests and a Garden Warbler was feeding young.

This male Blackbird, ably assisted by its partner, was also feeding

a brood of young, of which this was one.

Along the way were a number of common wild flowers, with these

Woody Nightshade just a day or so past their 'sell-by-date and

Common Valerian in 3 colours, usual pink, deep red and white.

Describing the fore-shore at the 'bridge' disappointing would be a gross understatement with just c2 immature Herring Gulls and a single Oystercatcher, but with the rain now starting all that was detected of any Little Terns were their 'calls'.

Barleycrates Lane at Tophill Portland was next, but bird numbers were about the same.

This Meadow Pipit, the only one I've seen since my return, lingered long enough for a photo call, after which all that were seen were a few Swallows coming in from the sea, and an absolute host of
Slugs and


Once on the brink of extinction, the Portland Sheep has a great deal to offer, renowned for the flavour of their meat, were once plentiful on the Isle of Portland, yet the breed had to be rescued from the brink of extinction in 1973. Now, with the benefit of enthusiastic new owners, they look to have found a fresh role in a niche market not only for their meat but also horns which are prized in button and walking-stick manufacture. Along with this 'flock' at Reap Lane there are also Chickens, Pigs and even Alpacas (one of the finest meats I have ever eaten).

Apart from the few afore mentioned the only other bird, seen in numbers, was Common Whitethroat seemingly holding territories in many bushes.

Just as the day seemed to be paling into 'ordinary' I walked down the slope to the bushy area of Culverwell where I met up with Martin Cade (Warden of the Portland Bird Observatory) and John Lucas, fellow 'birder'. The latter had just located a Red-backed Shrike, and in very quick time the trio were looking at a 'text book' adult male. Unfortunately, at some distance and in growing murky conditions the photographs were never going to be brilliant,

but these two shots give the idea.

Red-backed Shrike

For a clearer look at the bird, Martin Cade has kindly allowed me to publish his image, which it seems only the 3 of us saw.

A clearer view.

Finally, on the way to the return bus I bumped into a couple of mates I haven't seen for a while, who trade under the collective heading of 'Bright & Jenkins Gas Fitters'. Ian Jenkins (left) is one of my drinking pals from Finn's public house in Weymouth, and a character I get on with as well as anyone. We get on so well we dub ourselves 'The Mutual Appreciation Society'. Graham is a very long standing 'birding' friend, but since I moved from the Island to live I see much less of him - good to see you lads!