Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Just 'Do It' - It's Later Than You Think!

It was good to get back to the usual beat again today and to see just how well many of the young birds are doing. In the cemetery several Dunnock, Wrens and Blackbirds were in family groups, but while the pair of Collared Doves were in the area of their nest site no young were seen.

At Radipole there looked to be dozens of Coots in the west channel but well outnumbered by juvenile Herring Gulls down at Westham Bridge while the most numerous of all were Swifts.

Herring Gull (juvenile)

With the tide well out at Ferry Bridge it was always going to be worth a look but it turned out to be much more productive than anticipated. Despite the first young Little Tern taking to the wing a week ago this morning was the first time I had seen one, while the were a couple of dozen adults fish carrying and preening on the exposed sand. Other Terns included c3 Common, one carrying a fish and squawking as though there were a youngster in attendance,but no,and c5 Sandwich one a juvenile. c15 Mediterranean Gulls, in various stages and states of plumage, was a decent count, while there were 4 times that many Black-headed Gulls c13 being juveniles. A lone Redshank was the best of the Waders, but c7 Sanderling (a long awaited first for the year) accompanied c35 Dunlin, c12 Ringed Plover and c2 Oystercatcher as well as c5 south bound Little Egret.

Single Sanderling (foreground) with a couple of Dunlin

2 Sanderling and Dunlin

Sandwich Tern (juvenile)

Sandwich Tern (juvenile) after I got a little too close.

Common Tern carrying fish.

Portland was dull by comparison, but there's always something to see, including a group of c11 Swallows flying seaward, several dozen young Goldfinch and Linnet, plus

this Gatekeeper Butterfly, my first of the year.

With a little patience I managed this 'open wing' shot.

On the way home I noticed this young Herring Gull awaiting the arrival of mum with the groceries.

Unfortunately, the day ended on a very sour note as I saw the headline of this evening's Dorset Echo in a local shop, announcing the untimely death of mine, and many others, friend Steve Needham. Just 6 short days ago Steve and I were swapping anecdotes of diving in the Gulf of Aqaba, from where he had just returned, enthusing about the shoals of migrating Hammerhead Sharks. It has been a while since I dived there so the memories came flooding back.

Tributes to Tragic Weymouth off-licence boss

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular dad who has died tragically young. The family of Steve Needham say he was someone who would go out of his way to help anyone. They said that 42-year-old Steve, who managed Cheers off-licence in Weymouth, was a man who regularly carried out good deeds for others.

His family has been overwhelmed by support from customers and dozens of sympathy cards sent by well-wishers. Steve’s funeral will be held on Thursday and people have been asked not to wear mourning clothes to remember the dad-of-two. He died suddenly at home in Chickerell of natural causes.

Tracey Sparks, his partner of 22 years, said: “This has made us realise just how much people thought of Steve. “It’s now like something in the shop isn’t quite right. “It’s like losing your arm but it’s much, much more than that.” Steve, dad to Aimee, 14, and Craig, 12, ran the family business in Abbotsbury Road with his parents Shirley and Fred Needham for 20 years. Shirley, 62, said: “We want the kids to grow up knowing how much everybody loved Steve.

“We’ve had so many people asking about what happened to him. We’ve had both men and women coming into the shop and crying.” Keen diver Steve took up the hobby aged 25 and reached the professional rank of dive master. “His life was all about the family, the shop and diving,” said Tracey, 38. She added: “He was quite a private person who didn’t like being in the limelight. He had two different faces. “One was the businessman at the shop and the other side of him was the family side which was a much softer side.”

Former Budmouth school pupil Steve wanted to have children before he was 30, Tracey said. “He couldn’t do enough for them. He loved them to bits. Anything that Steve could do for them, he would.” Steve, who would work seven days a week every day of the year in the shop, would try and help anyone who asked him. Shirley said: “He found lodgings for some of the workmen who are working on the roundabout down the road. “He helped Polish people get accommodation and helped people move into flats around here. He would always know how to get people in touch with the right people. People would come in to buy something and they’d still be talking to him 45 minutes later. “He’d always be laughing and joking with people.” Anyone who knew Steve is invited to his funeral at Weymouth Crematorium on Thursday at 1.45pm.

R.I.P. Steve