Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Haven't We Damaged Enough Of Our Planet?

We start with a little mirth, sent to me by my mate Harry Challenor, as this male House Sparrow seems to have had enough of Her Indoors' chattering?

I met up with Dave Tissington at 07-00 this morning and with more or less clear sky, little in the way of wind plus no sign of rain things were set fair for a wander around the

at Sherford Bridge. As we approached Wareham town the picture changed as the eastern sky was filled with very dark towering cumulus clouds, and surely heralding some rain. As we travelled I told Dave of my plan to search for Red-legged Partridge along the Fleet later in the week, an addition to my 'ongoing' February list (yes, I know but bare with me), and also not seen in Dorset so far this year. Arriving at our destination, Dave looked across the road saying he had just seen a large bird land in the bushes. At first glance all I could see was a Robin, but he said it was definitely much bigger as I locked on to a

Red-legged Partridge (that'll save a walk) the first I ever remember seeing at this location. Within minutes of starting our walk we had logged both

Great Spotted Woodpecker and

Green Woodpecker but one of our targets here was Lesser Spotted Woodpecker altogether a much more difficult to find member of the family. Dave had also received information that the Red Kite of the previous days had been seen on a few occasions on the field we were now traversing. Third on the list of hoped for birds was

Common Crossbill (this one, for illustration purposes only, was photographed 'for sale' along with cages full of Siberian Rubythroats, Mongolian Larks etc in a Chinese street market) which dutifully obliged as c6 flew overhead alerting us to their presence by 'calling'. This was the first 'year tick' since the first day of the month!

On our way we noticed how the hedgerows are now starting to sprout, especially these Hazel catkins. Unlike Monday, when I trod this same path with Bob Ford and his group, today the forest was full of bird song, and in very quick time we recorded c3 Fieldfare, probably as many as 30 Redwing, Song & Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Siskin in varying numbers plus at least a dozen Goldcrest, with the continuous song of Skylark in the background. Next to enter the list was one of probably 4 individual

Nuthatch and after photographing this

Bracket Fungi (possibly Razor Strop?)

Treecreeper started to appear, with at least 3 showing well. From time to time we took up station on a hillock viewing a big sky and farmland beyond in the hope of the Kite, but this was not to be. However, by way of a small bonus we did see c2 Common Buzzards, the same number of Raven and by way of a HUGE bonus a male Hen Harrier as it lopped off to the west. Having spent a little over 4 hours with still no sign of the Lesser Spot our attention was drawn to the singing of more than one

Woodlark, which we found, along with Dave & Anne Raishley, at the traditional site close to the power cables. Finally at 13-00 we gave up the ghost on both Kite and Woodpecker but one or two boxes had been ticked with the Partridge plus Crossbill in addition to which we also c2 Hare which extends the Mammal Year List.

GB Bird Year List = 178 GB Mammal Year List = 15

and finally, this is the photograph I've been waiting for from the 'Land Down Under'!

Proud father Bernard and my lovely daughter Lisa hold on to Frederick III left, and new arrival Alexander (The Great) - Bless 'em!

I know I said 'finally', but this most important note from The Portland Bird Observatory web-site has only just reached my attention. The PBO, an immediate neighbour to the site of the proposed flights, is one of a few National Bird Observatories along the coast of Great Britain and elsewhere. The location of these establishments is such that each is at the heart of not only bird migration but also Butterfly, Moth other insects et al. The vital and essential work carried out here is on the whole overlooked by much of the general public, but it should be noted that it is of 'World Wide Value', thousands of pounds and man hours (almost all voluntary) have been invested here to improve habitat, protect our wild creatures especially nesting birds. These include Peregrine Falcons and Ravens (not so long ago almost lost to the Island) plus Fulmar, Razorbill, Guillemot and Puffin which is almost on its last legs as a breeding species in the County. Of the latter, these flight will have to ply back and forth directly (or very close to) this colony which is now reduced to a maximum of 2 to 3 pairs, if that.

Whilst we hesitate to get involved in the usually messy business of local politics, we feel we ought to alert visitors to a proposal to operate helicopter pleasure flights over the Bill (up to 22 flights a day between April and September). As visitors to the area during the thankfully now defunct Portland Steam Fair will be well aware, the racket from flights of this nature verges on the intolerable and certainly has the most detrimental effect on birding activity (quite apart from being potentially damaging should the flights take place, as proposed, during the breeding season). Click here for further details of this planning application.

Write, Phone, E-Mail or personally approach your Councilor, but please do not delay or 'pussyfoot. I'll undoubtedly see you there!

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