Sunday, 13 March 2011

It's Been A Long Time Coming - Beverley Knight

In line with just about every other human being on the planet, my thoughts today are very much with the people of Japan and more particularly the residents of Sendai on Honshu Island. Every day of April 2007 was spent travelling the full length of this mystical country, and despite the scenes of devastation on our TV sets I'm sure some places were familiar to me. Stopping off for a couple of days, literally placing my life in the hands of a complete stranger, the memory lingers long with me.

One simple rule on my travels is, never turn down the opportunity of trying bizarre or weird foods and Fugu, the deadly Japanese fish, was a not to be missed moment.

I sometimes think that if Chef had been a beneficiary to my will, he may not have done such a good job,

but I survived the platter. Note:- in the 'vintage year' of 1958 there were 176 reported deaths from this delicacy in Japan.

This was the view from my hotel the following day - Heaven!

It was an early start to get an early bus this morning, as the text announcing the arrival of a Hoopoe at Portland Bill coincided with my lunch date of yesterday. The short walk from home threw up

c32 Carrion Crows (this being about half of them) in the trees along the redundant railway line, while in the Harbour

most of the Charter Skippers were engines ready and getting underway. Among them Lone Shark III, under the skillful command of Richard English, who I have enjoyed some fantastic fishing with in Sharks I & II but am yet to sample III. "Tight Lines" Richie!

I rarely phone the Observatory for information, but today the 'twitch' overtook me and was pleased to hear Martin confirm that the bird was still present. On the way HMS Ocean was still cruising around off the Bill and in far clearer conditions took the opportunity to bring you a better picture.

The only other maritime movement was the small freighter Arklow Raider "Butting through the Channel in the mad March days" - John Masefield's poem 'Cargoes'. Then suddenly, there it was flying right across my track, but soon landed on the Common not far away.

The Hoopoe


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Port and

Starboard. There was no sign, for me at least, of the Black Redstarts today, nor did I see the Firecrest but a single Wheatear had put in an appearance at the Reedy Ditch so I was already well pleased. All of this 'birding' is alright if you have nothing else to do, but there are those who have to complete the building of the Equipment Shed in Helen's Field!

I 'clicked' Mike Munro just as he was about to leave the Obs, complete with a single Barn Owl and several 'small bird' nesting boxes (made out of off-cuts from the main building) which will be the final touches to the construction. It is hoped that Mike's family and friends in New Zealand enjoy reading this in the knowledge that he is happy and healthy (except for the knees after nailing the roof on).

So, what has been 'a long time coming'? Well, shortly after biding Mike farewell, Duncan Walbridge arrived and told me of presence of

Little Owl at the Grove. In all my years of bird watching I had never failed to see this species at least in the first month and mostly the first few days of the year, but it has taken until now to add it to the 2011 GB Year List.

Searching the quarry site on the east of the Island, one bird was seen for a split second but what must have been a second was photographed taking the sun as these Owls often do.

PS - it should be pointed out that the Sam Cooke, Beverley Knight, Tom Jones et al song isn't in fact titled It's Been A Long Time Coming (this being the key refrain of the lyric) but A Change Is Going To Come. I guess in the case of Little Owl either would fit, but know which I prefer.

Calling in to Radipole on the way home in hope of a Sand Martin, none were seen but the abundance of blossom (this being Blackthorn) more than compensated for this.

Just a few Martins have already been seen and this week should see more, but for now I was content to look at this Willow blossom

and this of an unidentified fruit tree (along with Gorse) before heading home.

Paul Harris sent me this image of a maritime (binnacle) table and 2 Captain's bow chairs in the recently refurbished Ship Inn, Weymouth Quay, and to end should just say how nice it was to see Niel Arnold and Christine today - see you again soon I hope!

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