Monday, 31 January 2011

Asalam Alaykum - Oman

By and large, the local cemetery has been overlooked during the past few days, and so on the last day of the month it was worth prolonged scrutiny today. There had been yet another night of hard frost and it was only the diminished wind speed and total cloud cover that prevented it from being 'bitterly cold'.

Entering the north section of the graveyard first my hunch was almost immediately rewarded with the discovery of a 'pair' of

Blackcap (male) and

Blackcap (female). A Warbler, one of just 4, that can be seen with a degree of certainty during the winter months in England, the others being Dartford and Cetti's Warbler plus my very next sighting a

Chiffchaff. It is unheard of in my little world not to see one during the month of January, but as previously stated it was the final day before it was added to the Year List. Over the road, the favoured fruit tree once again came up trumps as I counted 50 Redwing flying in and out before confusion prevailed as to whether they were in or out bound. It was indeed a 'Thrush' moment all round as Blackbird too was plentiful, Song Thrush nearly reached double figures, Fieldfare were represented by c2 birds as a Mistle Thrush also obliged by flying overhead.

At Radipole some of the lake had once again frozen over, but seemed to have attracted a few more wildfowl, particularly these Teal, plus more Shoveler and Gadwall.

This mornings 'Jesus bird' (walking on water) was represented by this Grey Heron, but it was now time to hurry on view the 'low water mark' at Ferrybridge. There, c2 of both Shelduck and Curlew were present as were just a few Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Mediterranean Gulls but the number of

Little Grebe had increased to c9 (these are just c7 of them) my highest count of the winter.

The day I tire of Portland is the day I hope to 'fall off my perch' and while there is always great and unique beauty here, today under a leaden sky with the sun trying its hardest to peep through it just seemed to have an extra dimension which spurred me to share a few of the scenes with you!

Walking the East Cliff south and towards the Portland Bill Lighthouse, there are 3 of these 'sheer-legs' used to raise and lower small boats used by the pot fishermen to catch crab and lobster (take it from someone who knows, these are the best in the world. If you know differently, I'm all ears).

One of a number of sea caves along this stretch of coastline and directly above this is what has become known as

The Whoosh Hole ( due to the noise the sea makes when forced through the cave and upwards). Carved out by the power of the sea over many decades, I remember in the 60's a hapless yacht foundering just off-shore and becoming jammed in the hole - oh for a photograph! From here,

you can see the second of the boat cranes, the active lighthouse at the Bill and to the left the Trinity House Obelisk.

In this closer view Soweto by Sea can also be seen. A mass of wooden sheds that go under the heading of Beach Huts, but love 'em or hate 'em there here to stay!

This is Reedy Ditch fed by off-spill water from the surrounding farmland and a spring, which coupled with the bushes at Culverwell (above) is a superb catchment for birds. I doubt there would be many disagree that headliner in this was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a trans-Atlantic vagrant, that appeared here in 1979. While I was more than content to end the month with a Chiffchaff and a huge total of 176, in the relentless search for more there was at least one plausible addition - Little Owl.

However, with a predator on the loose there was little (NO) chance of seeing one at the first traditional site. Can you see it yet?

This Black Cat proved lucky for neither me or the Little Owl! This is the moment the silence was shattered by an overflying aircraft.

There was a time when Portland was a veritable Hornet's Nest of helicopter activity, but since the Royal Navy disbanded the Heli-port at the north of the Island these 'petrol pigeons' are now scarce. Every reason then to suss out what this 'low flyer' was up to

especially as it 'landed' just west of the Bird Observatory. Being a bit of a 'Shrinking Violet' and a 'Nosy Git' there was only one course of action, bowl over and get the buzz. Met by 2 of the attendant company, one had a Royal Navy badge on his woolly hat which simply implied 'game on'. I did suggest what they were doing might be 'SECRET' it would be understandable if they couldn't divulge what was going on. I then suggested that if that were the case, physically knocking the information out of them was an option. In true RN fashion this was taken as the humour it was meant to be, and these 2 hilarious lads gave me the guff.

The Royal Omani Warship 'Al Shamikh' (photograph © Martin Cade) is undergoing 'maker's' (BAE) sea trials, and today was gunnery proving. The 'chopper, on hire to the builders, was being used to measure and calibrate the gunfire, for more information (recommended) visit the link below.

A timely reminder of my own visits to this fabulous country -

Redwing were much in evidence on my way home, and this

Common Buzzard was far too

tantalizing not to loose off a few shots.

the final 2 items include my continuous whistling today of 'Goldfinger' as we learned of the death of magical composer John Barry. No need to expand on this, save to say his compositions will live forever!

and this e-mail from my encounter yesterday with Ian and Rachel, I'll let them explain:-

* From: Rachel Foster
* To:
* Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2011 20:58:30 +0000
* Subject: Well Hello!

Hello Bagsy.
Returned to Rugby teatime and have just perused your blog... wow! can`t believe our photo is up already... THANK YOU!!!
what a lovely character meeting you today was a truly awesome moment!
Tried to find you on Facebook, but no luck.. if you look for me my name is Rachel Foster and Ian Haynes.. look us up and add us.
Love and peace

Rachel and Ian x

I simply hope ALL my meeting are the same as this!

No comments:

Post a Comment