Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A Breath of Fresh RSPB

Cloudless, windless and a good deal warmer, today was set to be a proper English summer's day, and while the number of Swifts were reduced to about 200 it was fantastic to watch Cetti's Warblers feeding young at Radipole. By no means as interesting, but of great entertainment value was bumping into Nick Quintrell the so called Warden of the reserve, for the first time since I raised concerns about him and his cohorts slowly ripping the heart out of these sacred places. Despite my jaunty "good morning" he remained impassive and silent, which had me wondering how this sort of person would perform should they ever find themselves having to get a 'proper' job outside the cocoon the RSPB have built for them! All in the name of daring to voice an acute concern? Pathetic!

A walk along the Rodwell Trail produced nothing out of the ordinary, except to say that I did count the Wrens as there seem to be extraordinary numbers here. In total there were 13 separately identifiable birds plus a singing Goldcrest! On to Portland, where here too things were very quiet except for a seemingly late, singing Sedge Warbler at Barleycrates Lane. Here I got to thinking about the overseas readers of this Blog, thinking they at least should have a photographic account of how these strange sounding places look.

An ancient farm track running from the main road at the village of Weston, this part of the lane runs east to west until meeting a left hand 'dog leg' at the top of the picture.

From there, it continues south towards Portland Bill and what used to be the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment, pictured.

There is then a second right angle turning back to the west, and towards the sea, which can just be seen above the lip of the land, ending at the West Cliff. This is one of the best 'catchments' for migratory birds on the Island.

Speckled Wood are now on the wing in numbers, along with a few other species of Butterflies.

'Flamer III', a charter fishing boat, Captained by my friend Colin Penny rounds the Bill for a days sea angling in West Bay.

One of 'many' Bee species. With only the Field Guide to go on, it may be a female Psithyrus rupestris?

Best magnified, this shot shows a view towards Portland Bill including the active (red & white) lighthouse on the right, and the Portland Bird Observatory (lighthouse) to the right of that. However, the picture was taken more to show the notorious Portland Race, an often unpredictable and dangerous (to the unwary) meeting of 7 tides less than 2 miles from the shore.

A closer view of The Race this morning in a gentle north easterly breeze at the top of a Spring Flood Tide. The viewer can likely imagine how this seaway looks when it's angry!

A pair of these beautiful Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonflies were gracing the Obs pond.

Also there, apart from the stalwarts Warden Martin Cade and tireless 'birder' John Lucas, I met up with long time friend Hugo Wood-Homer. Gentleman farmer Hugo, one time raced cars and played tennis for Dorset, was in his day also considered the finest 'shot' (mainly shotgun) in the county. He and I have spent many a happy hour studying our countries wildlife, especially on long distance 'twitching' rare birds. Looking, as ever, as fit as a 'butcher's dog' he informed me that he recently celebrated his 80th birthday, which put an increased sparkle into my day. While I know as a technophobe he is unlikely to read this, I do offer my hearty congratulations to this irrepressible, true gentleman! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUGO & MANY HAPPY RETURNS.

Meadow Brown butterflies were also on the wing, and as a usually folded wing percher I was lucky to get this open wing shot.

Meadow Brown in the more familiar perched position.

As I left the Observatory c2 male Pheasants were having a tussle in the adjacent field, as c2 Lapwings (one shown above) flew in from seaward and continued north.

Small White butterfly.

Rook, one of c8 seen at Ferry Bridge. Usually content to forage fields for invertebrates, this small gang have found easy pickings discarded by humans at the Visitor's Centre Snack Bar.

RSPB Update

This time last year I was heavily involved, once again, highlighting the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds shortcomings attempting to save the critically delicate Little Tern colony at Ferry Bridge. In brief, they were still hammering in fence posts at the end of May, long after the birds had arrived back from their winter quarters, keeping them from the nest site resulting in NO BREEDING at all. Along with just one or two others, I made great protestations both through these pages and personally to those involved, but to be honest expected it to fall , as is usual with the RSPB, on deaf ears.

While I definitely wish to claim no credit (my singular concern being the Terns) I am delighted to report a complete change this year. Works to complete the new style electric fence and sign erecting etc were completed long before the birds returned and all personnel seemed to keep clear of the area. Since then I have been able to pass on from the Fleet Warden Don Moxom that at least c10 pairs had successfully settled to nest in the colony, and just today the overwhelming news that c5 chicks have now hatched.

While I am quick to chastise and criticise those who do our wildlife harm, particularly in the name of PROTECTION, I hope to be even swifter to pass on CONGRATULATIONS! Let's hope the message filters down to Radipole and Lodmoor.

Part of the Little Tern Colony at ferry Bridge.

Bivouac on Chesil Beach from where the guardians of this sensitive site keep their 24 hour a day vigil.

The old 'shooting butt' on Chesil Beach now used as an observation post to protect these delightful and delicate birds. I don't know if I'd like to be couped up in either carrying out this kind of work.


and talking of tiny and delicate we return to Colombia, South America again.

Dusky Starfrontlet

Andean Emerald

Steely-vented Hummingbird

White-tailed Starfrontlet