Thursday, 31 March 2011

In a Fire, The King Will Come

Thunder rolls, piper and drums
Evil sons, overrun
Count their sins - judgement comes.

The rain of yesterday had been replaced by wind this morning, except there was still a trace of the wet stuff early on, enough to tempt me into my wet weather trousers. All of this seemed to be having an adverse effect on the birds and while there was no sign of migration, neither were there many of them singing. Those that were included both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in the cemetery, but only the latter at Radipole where as usual Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting and Water Rail were all at it.

Saving grace came by way of a 'fourth' pair of potential breeding Great Crested Grebe recorded for the first time today, while the

'Deep-Blue Meanies' set up their detection equipment on the lip of the Weymouth bye-pass.

After 2 or 3 weeks absence (for me at least) once again the male Hooded Merganser was showing well at Westham Bridge

and regular readers know that can only mean one thing,

another series of photographs of this

remarkably gratifying bird - Long Live the Duck!

As far as the breeze was concerned, the wind-sock at Ferry Bridge told the story. A little south of westerly and 'stiff'. From there on in the only sighting of note were c5 Wheatears in fields along the East Cliff, an addition to the Observatory day list, so with little else in prospect I accepted a lift to Weymouth with John Down. The last time I saw him he had secured tickets to see Wishbone Ash, for the umpteenth time,

which had inspired me to return home and play their 'third' album 'Argus', for me their best 'studio' offering, to date. It's doubtful there's a Wishbone fan in the world who'd disagree that the 3 tracks contained on this record The King Will Come, Warrior and Throw Down the Sword are the bands finest compositions, and a 'must play' at every concert. Ostensibly a trio of 'Battle Hymns' which in my view MUST be played in the order stated and without interruption. Unfortunately, this is not how this album was engineered, the fairy insipid 'Leaf and Stream' having been included to separate the first 2 tracks. But fear not, there is an alternative which I always take.

'Live Dates' is an exceptionally well produced double album featuring a good number of this 'duel lead guitar' units best known songs, plus an extra non-WA blues thrown in, recorded at various venues throughout the land. Here the guitar playing particularly is far more fluid, especially on the 3 tracks in question, while the climax on The King Will Come reaches new levels.


Argos was released in April 1972 and Live Dates in June 1973.

Up until that time the band members comprised Steve Upton (drums), Ted Turner (lead guitar & vocals), Martin Turner - no relation - (bass guitar & vocals) and Andy Powell (guitar & vocals) then Ted left to be replaced by former Tina Turner guitarist Laurie Wisefield (sen-bloody-sational).

The only non-WA track on 'Live Dates' was the Jimmy Reed (1959) blues Baby What You Want Me To Do. This was recorded at the Portsmouth Guildhall on a night I was a member of the audience. I still maintain that it's me in the crowd shot on the inside cover - let me know what you think.

In the mid-70's The Ash declared that they would 'never' play the seminal track 'Phoenix' again in public. In 1979 they closed the Reading Festival (the best performance of the band I have ever witnessed) with, yes, 'Phoenix' running 5 minutes over time (Mid-night) and incurred a £1,000 per minute penalty.

Thanks JD for the lift & inspiration!

So, until something turns up and to keep our public happy we return to the archive.
The Fairy-Wrens
(some of Australia's smallest and most striking birds) are a family group of 8 members, some of which are divided into sub-species. On our 10 week trip during 2008 we encountered a good number of these.

Superb Fairy-Wren (male)

Superb Fairy-Wren (female)

Red-winged Fairy-Wren (male)

Red-winged Fairy-Wren (female)

Splendid Fairy-Wren (male)

Splendid Fairy-Wren (female)

Red-backed Fairy-Wren (male) we didn't knowingly see a female.

Variegated Fairy-Wren (male)

Variegated Fairy-Wren (female)

White-winged Fairy-Wren not easy to find let alone photograph.

Blue-breasted Fairy-Wren (male)

and finally, after showing my 'second favourite' painting yesterday

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère was the last major work by French painter Édouard Manet,
and is my favourite painting of all time. There is so much going on in there even the pundits cannot agree on the angle of perspective - well worth looking up, the original hangs in The Courtauld Gallery which is housed in the gateway to Somerset House at the north end of Waterloo Bridge, London!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Listen to the Pouring Rain - José Feliciano

You didn't have to be Trevor the Weather to predict today's rain, as by 06:00 as I watched the forecast the sky was already fully covered and getting blacker by the minute. Not until it's belting down will I consider staying home, but it was 'lean pickings' along the way with just this

male Chaffinch close enough to photograph and just a couple of dozen Sand Martins of note at Radipole. Walking along the sea front one of the

Condor Channel Island Ferries was conduction some kind of sea trials, and by the time Greenhill was reached the precipitation had started. Only about half a mile from Lodmoor it was thought best to continue, reaching the sanctuary of Edward's Folly just before the start of a heavy downpour. Predicting I was going to be there for a while, the alternative being a soaking, counting how many species were on hand seemed a good way of passing the time.

A pair of Wigeon still remain on the Moor, and although distant

they did climb out of the channel to feed on grass.

Otherwise just these 2 Mallard ventured into camera range and with no likelihood of improvement I made a dash for the bus. On such a dull day, it's was considered a little colour might cheer up our readership so here are a few Australian Parrots in the hope of doing just that.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - believe it or not this tiny bird is 2cm smaller than the House Sparrow. Arriving at Karunda (known as the village in the Rain Forest) close to Cairns, Australia we found the tree full of these minute Parrots which stay for just 2 or 3 days each year before moving on to other feeding grounds.

Elegant Parrot

Western Rosella

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Rainbow Lorikeet (front)

Rainbow Lorikeet (back)


Red-capped Parrot

Ringneck (Port Lincoln)

While probably not the most colourful of this selection of Psittacines Carnaby's Black Cockatoo is certainly the rarest. Confined to just a few small pockets of South Western Australia. it is considered 'rare' and likely to become extinct.

'Peach Blossom in the Crau' - Vincent Van Gogh

Having spoken to Roy the Fenlandwalker today (see Comments) and viewed some of his artworks, it reminded me of my own love for the Impressionists and my second favourite painting ever.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys

In sharp contrast to yesterday, when bird-life this side of the Beach Road was thin on the ground, just a few short steps from home Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff could already be heard from the cemetery. Add to this Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock and a brief but distinctive 'yaffle' from a Green Woodpecker things looked set fair for a good day.

Carrion Crow already seem to be sitting on eggs, but the bad news is no signs of any Great Spotted Woodpeckers in recent days. While Radipole didn't exactly abound with 'vocals', it's always welcome to kick off with

Bullfinch and while not

'point blank' approach to within a few feet is not usual here and to get a

female to linger as well is considered a bonus. There were also a good number of Sand Martin and a Swallow with Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail getting more vocal by the day.

Wood Pigeons too were in evidence as several dozen flew high and into the north east as I made my way to Lodmoor. On the way, a lady of senior years stopped me at Greenhill and asked where she might find 'The Lake'. Telling her about the 2 local nature reserves, her enthusiasm to visit seemed to be bubbling over, and mine too as able to impart some useful information about what is partly 'my patch'. This kind of encounter goes a long way towards my personal Good Vibrations, as recent encounters with Annie Meadows, Jo Lawrence, Lesley Godfrey et al has proven in recent months!

At the Lodmoor entrance c9 Black-tailed Godwit were circling at great height, while news from Daragh of a

Grey Plover on the west scrape was of great interest,

not at all 'usual' on this reserve, so headed straight there to view it in company with c2 each of Lapwing and Oystercatcher.

Returning the way I came, it looked like a Sandwich Tern have recently arrived, my second of the year, and while very much keeping its distance

the archive is usually good for a closer look. During every visit to the Moor, the Long-billed Dowitcher is to much of a temptation to miss, so off I went in search of it.

On the way it was seen that the previously ariel Black-tailed Godwits had alighted and were busily feeding.

All 9 were seen to be in various stages of plumage with a 'winter' bird (front) starkly contrasting with the other already best way to summer attire,

and as if to order there too was the Dowitcher.

Again today I had opted for my warmer jacket, which thus far was considered over-kill, but reaching the seaward end of Barleycrates Lane (without seeing a single migrant) it came into its own. The fairly stiff easterly continues and coupled with patches of dense fog (Portland couldn't be seen from Wyke Regis just a couple of miles away) it was by and large a dull day. However, reaching Reap Land the sun did make a couple of attempts to show through but soon overtaken by the afore mentioned conditions.

Along the West Cliff Jackdaws are busily building nests, and no sooner had I thought that only one Peregrine had been seen in Dorset so far this year,

a pair appeared from nowhere briefly performing aerobatics. The first of only 2 migrants to show before reaching the Observatory was a Wheater, followed by a

male Blackcap which unlike its predecessor perched long enough for a photograph, while at the

Obs visiting 'ringer' John Cromarty

plucked another out of a mist net. That was the end of the birding for today, but with traffic light problems and continuing road works it was a long journey back to Weymouth. Fairly close to my destination the driver dropped me off, continuing via a walk along the redundant railway line. There along the virtually untouched banks was a fine display of flowers, some wild and some dumped by humans including

these Grape Hyacinth (or Muscari)

along with these pretty Primula.