Monday, 28 February 2011

Thorn In My Side - Annie Lennox

Consigned to my desk-top and almost overlooked, no I didn't see this little beauty today - if only. This photograph of Northern Hawk Owl, sent to me by Paul Harris, is considered well worth sharing with the readership especially as one eminent Dorset birder I know considers this magnificent creature one of his 'Top Ten' birds in the world!

Despite being another dull, cold day with more than a slight chance of rain, it was the final one of February and my last chance to record a Wheatear before the month was out.

This Collared Dove, one of a pair, was the only target within camera range in the cemetery so I quickly moved on to Radipole. There I recorded what might well be yet another SOS (Single Observer Sighting) for me, the first

Mechanical Migrant of the year, arriving just in time for the RSPB Building Season. One can only presume (given the expense of Plant Hire) that this machine will be operational in the very near future, fitting in nicely with their plea for 'volunteers' to listen for 'booming' Bitterns. My personal prediction of this venture is that more than one person will hear a Bittern 'booming', despite what the Dorset records already show (Green et al) and will stand (within the RSPB) without furtherance!

I continue to watch and report as Annie might say.

Further on my favourite Drake, the Hooded Merganser, was showing again but that, apart from singing Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails, was all. The walk along the sea-front produced only c3 Great Crested Grebes and a single Black-necked Grebe in Weymouth Bay, while on Lodmoor this

Shelduck proved to photogenic to pass by. Not much further along the west path the White-fronted Goose (of the past few days) was showing well but distantly while in the bushes

c2 Firecrest were proving far less cooperative than the Shelduck. This is the best of a dozen images taken,

while this shot, taken from the archive, is how one should really be viewed. It was soon after this I met up with Daragh Croxson (recently returned from the Philippines) and Dick Morris who had just seen a Bittern land in the reeds close by. A short search ensued, and as Bob Ford joined our company he picked up twice on what was regarded as another flying briefly above the reeds. Almost like the 'gathering of the clan', Neville Fowler then happened along and surprise, surprise he had seen a third! Not surprisingly, I didn't see any of them! However, I was first to pick out c4 Black-tailed Godwit, and after Neville's departure we relocated the

Long-billed Dowitcher between us.

Over on Portland the quiet was only shattered by intermittent Naval Gunfire, but there was little in the way of bird life. The 3 mile (?) return walk from Southwell to the Bill produced just 3 Rock Pipit and not a single Skylark seen or heard but on the sea the familiar sight of this

local Mussels Dredger, HMS Moules Marinière,

my first Peregrine on the Island this year plus

the Exeter registered 'crabber' E521 'Rowella' returning to port at Weymouth.

In the field opposite the Observatory, c2 male Pheasants appeared to be vocally fighting for supremacy, and as the first rain of the day started to fall I set off for home.

Penultimately, Daragh has sent me 3 photographs from his recent trip, just a glimpse of the 150 new species he added to his World List - Thank You Daragh!

Philippine Frogmouth

Olive-capped Flowerpecker

Blue-throated Bee-eater

and finally an advert, sent to me by Dick Morris, for the next Joe Bonamassa gig. If things go to plan I may well be in Australia then, but otherwise, see you there!

The 'February Wheatear' will have to wait for another year!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Where The Raven Flies There's Jeopardy - Genesis

The third county in as many days joined the readership yesterday by way of Qatar, an Arab State (or more correctly Emirate) in the Persia Gulf. I have sailed along the coast of this country many times, but to date unfortunately never set foot on it. It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Blog, and in line with every other new reader I would ask you to pass the link on to all those you know - Thank You & Welcome!

and on the subject of Flags, in recent days I've noticed a 'new' one flying on the mast above the Council Offices in Fortuneswell, Portland. With a quick visit, via Google, to the Flag Registry of Great Britain it was found to be the recently acknowledged and official flag of the Island.

Flag Type: Town Flag
Flag Date: 14th April 2010
Adoption Route: Local Council
UK Design Code: UNKG7509
Aspect Ratio: 3:5
Pantone Colours: Stone 4545, Green 354, Blue 286
Certification: Chief Vexillologist, Graham Bartram

Notes: Portland Town Council confirmed the design of the Portland Town Flag. The colours represent the landscape of the area: Portland stone, grass and the sea. The white tower represents the castles and the naval coronet shows the long connection with the Royal Navy.

On the face of it this morning seemed like a spring day with little in the way of clouds or wind and a blaze of sunshine, but there was a sting in the tail! Intent on catching the 07-25 to Portland there was only time to capture

one of several Pied Wagtail and

this gaggle of Canada Geese at Radipole before continuing to Ferrybridge, where 'the sting' manifested itself. The thought of no wind was masked by the lee of the built up area, but crossing the bridge there was an icy blast from a little north of west, and despite a rate of only about 15 knots it was cutting. A bit of a blessing then that there was little on view, in fact apart from Gulls

There were just these c3 Dunlin

which did allow approach to about 30 feet.

Arriving at the East Cliff, Portland

this Raven flew directly overhead but perched in the direct bright sunlight.

Continuing to be obliging, it again took to the wing

and this time with the sun behind me, it too allowed

a close encounter at perch.

There followed a long search for a February Wheatear, but this met with failure as did a 90 minute vigil at Pulpit Rock awaiting the arrival of a Puffin. There's still one day left in the month and with the tentative plan to try for the Pacific Diver off-shore Penzance, Cornwall on hold it'll be same time same place tomorrow if the weather holds.

Fortunately, the c2 Black Redstarts were still in the Bill Quarry

and while they were flighty there was chance to get a couple of shots away. Both were feeding well on these little white 'grubs',

and occasionally posing,

and while this is not exactly the 'shot of the day' it does show the red 'Start' which is Anglo Saxon for 'arse'!

I am occasionally asked the difference between the Cormorant and Shag but my 'stock answer' is not printable in a family publication. Really for someone who has already misidentified both through these pages perhaps I'm not the bloke to ask, but here (unless you know differently) the Shag is at the back.

and how are these for a couple of interesting shots?

The first, ostensibly just a small while spot on a black background is in fact the Space Shuttle 'Discovery' and the International Space Station.

Just after sunset yesterday both hove into view it a quickly darkening sky, as the Shuttle was arriving at the ISS. Programmed to 'dock' a little later, once the photograph was cropped much more detail was discernible. Thanks to Martin Cade the Warden of the Portland Bird Observatory for these extraordinary images.

Finally, a look at the current 'statistic chart' where the recent additions can be seen, but not those countries that have dropped off the radar. Unfortunately, the readership overall is taking a bit of a tumble, particularly countries like Australia and New Zealand, but feel that the citizens of the latter (especially those of the capital Christchurch) have a little more on their mind lately. Our thoughts are certainly with you all down there. A plan is afoot to start a revival, but in the meantime if you do enjoy the read please pass the LINK on to all your e-Mail addressees, it only takes a minute and 3 clicks. Thank You!

Num Perc. Country Name

drill down771273.45%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill down6115.82%United StatesUnited States
drill down3693.51%TaiwanTaiwan
drill down1731.65%GermanyGermany
drill down1561.49%NetherlandsNetherlands
drill down1541.47%FranceFrance
drill down1521.45%EcuadorEcuador
drill down1321.26%EstoniaEstonia
drill down1141.09%ItalyItaly
drill down1010.96%CanadaCanada
drill down690.66%MexicoMexico
drill down590.56%SpainSpain
drill down510.49%AustraliaAustralia
drill down410.39%JapanJapan
drill down360.34%SwitzerlandSwitzerland
drill down350.33%BelgiumBelgium
drill down320.30%SwedenSweden
drill down270.26%BrazilBrazil
drill down240.23%PolandPoland
drill down220.21%GreeceGreece
drill down210.20%IndiaIndia
drill down210.20%ArgentinaArgentina
drill down200.19%DenmarkDenmark
drill down200.19%IrelandIreland
drill down170.16%SingaporeSingapore
drill down150.14%South AfricaSouth Africa
drill down150.14%PortugalPortugal
drill down140.13%Russian FederationRussian Federation
drill down140.13%Dominican RepublicDominican Republic
drill down140.13%Czech RepublicCzech Republic
drill down120.11%BulgariaBulgaria
drill down110.10%ColombiaColombia
drill down110.10%VietnamVietnam
drill down100.10%HungaryHungary
drill down100.10%TurkeyTurkey
drill down90.09%IsraelIsrael
drill down90.09%VenezuelaVenezuela
drill down90.09%RomaniaRomania
drill down90.09%Korea, Republic OfKorea, Republic Of
drill down90.09%NorwayNorway
drill down80.08%SerbiaSerbia
drill down80.08%UkraineUkraine
drill down70.07%SloveniaSlovenia
drill down70.07%CroatiaCroatia
drill down70.07%MalaysiaMalaysia
drill down70.07%FinlandFinland
drill down70.07%PeruPeru
drill down70.07%ThailandThailand
drill down60.06%IndonesiaIndonesia
drill down60.06%MaltaMalta
drill down50.05%PakistanPakistan
drill down50.05%SlovakiaSlovakia
drill down50.05%AustriaAustria
drill down50.05%New ZealandNew Zealand
drill down40.04%Sri LankaSri Lanka
drill down40.04%Brunei DarussalamBrunei Darussalam
drill down40.04%Hong KongHong Kong
drill down40.04%PhilippinesPhilippines
drill down30.03%BarbadosBarbados
drill down30.03%ChileChile
drill down30.03%GuernseyGuernsey
drill down30.03%GuadeloupeGuadeloupe
drill down20.02%BahamasBahamas
drill down20.02%MoroccoMorocco
drill down20.02%Puerto RicoPuerto Rico
drill down20.02%EgyptEgypt
drill down20.02%EuropeEurope
drill down20.02%GeorgiaGeorgia
drill down20.02%JerseyJersey
drill down20.02%Bosnia And HerzegovinaBosnia And Herzegovina
drill down20.02%CyprusCyprus
drill down20.02%ReunionReunion
drill down20.02%MauritiusMauritius
drill down10.01%LebanonLebanon
drill down10.01%Moldova, Republic OfMoldova, Republic Of
drill down10.01%AlbaniaAlbania
drill down10.01%ArmeniaArmenia
drill down10.01%Anonymous ProxyAnonymous Proxy
drill down10.01%BermudaBermuda
drill down10.01%OmanOman
drill down10.01%LuxembourgLuxembourg
drill down10.01%BelarusBelarus
drill down10.01%SurinameSuriname
drill down10.01%United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
drill down10.01%Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
drill down10.01%YemenYemen
drill down10.01%QatarQatar
drill down10.01%AzerbaijanAzerbaijan
drill down10.01%NamibiaNamibia
drill down10.01%MozambiqueMozambique
drill down10.01%MadagascarMadagascar
drill down10.01%Isle Of ManIsle Of Man
drill down10.01%IcelandIceland