Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Shape of Things to Come - HG Wells 1933

With the exception of a chance rain shower, all seemed set fair for a great party day with all the

right people in the right place at the right time, but what happened next was a huge 'BONUS' indeed.

One of my nieces, Leigh and her 2 children Isobel and Mia from Nottingham, paid us a chance visit. Mia, her oldest daughter, is now 9 years old and I had never met either of them so it was at least that long since we saw each other. The party went with a great swing, except I forgot to put the oven on to cook the sausages but Joy and Julie came to my rescue with the fastest frying pans in DT4.

The Frog Racing commenced mid-afternoon, but with only 4 of the elimination legs completed the rain started so we all headed for the house.

In between times Leigh's partner Frank turned up, the third of the quartet I had not met before and I can say it was a great pleasure to meet him!

I think it can be safely said a good time was had by all.

Regular readers will remember my message at New Year of an intent to fulfil a number of outstanding ambitions during 2011. In just one calender months time I fly to Los Angeles for my next adventure and hopefully achieve or get a little closer to a couple of these goals. Most of this 7 weeks journey will be over familiar territory, having travelled the full length of the Alaska Highway during 2008, but being such a magnificent part of the world there shouldn't be a dull moment.

The first of these ambitions should be fairly straight forward as it entails visiting the final 3 of the 50 US States. Landing in LA at mid-night, I intend spending the rest of that night there and hope to be able to get a flight next morning to Honolulu, Hawaii the first of the 3. Idaho and Utah are the other 2 which will follow after a few days in Mexico 'twitching' Yellow-footed Gull, one of just 3 Gull species in the world I have not yet seen. After this there are no set plans except to reach Anchorage, Alaska by the 6th July to catch an already booked flight to the Pribilof Islands, just north of the Aleutians, in the Bearing Sea. The main trust of this mammoth trek is to see yet another Gull, this time Red-legged Kittiwake on their breeding cliffs, which would then just leave Relict Gull to achieve the full set. All else that is a MUST en-route is to visit my 'all time hero' Jimi Hendrix now laid to rest in the Greenwood Memorial Park, Seattle, Washington.

Here is just a taster from the last trip of what may be Things to Come on the next!

Bewick's Wren

California Sea Lion


Lesser Scaup

MacGillvray's Warbler

The work of a Beaver

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yosemite National Park, California

Rufous-sided Towhee

Surf Scoter

Friday, 29 April 2011

You Don't Get A 'Royal Wedding' Every Day

Don't forget where you saw it first!

I wouldn't describe myself as a 'royalist', but neither am I anti! However, just mention the word PARTY and there are many in this locale will tell you I'm your boy, so today it's forsake the great outdoors for the great Gin & Tonic. The weather is improving by the hour, but there is a forecast of possible showers - now that will put us off, I don't think. Anyroadup, by way of a simple tribute today's Blog consists of a few shots from the archive showing birds with a ROYAL connection.

With precious little else to do this evening I know Kate & Wills will be reading the Blog tonight, so girls and bots, here to you for a long, happy and fruitful life together.

Pop! oh a Champagne cork - must away.

Royal Albatross


Royal Spoonbill

Perth, Western Australia

Royal Tern


Now, let's Party!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Cuckoo (is a Pretty Bird) - Bob Dylan

Almost a carbon copy of both avian and weather activity as yesterday, except for a slightly more brisk wind, but as the morning progressed both improved. Another day of forsaking all areas for an early Portland visit, where at Barleycrates there was just a single

Whinchat while the walk along the West Cliff and Reap Lane saw just a scattering of

Wheatear while at Fancy's Farm what looked like 'new arrivals' were

these 2 Pigs. No idea of breed I'm afraid (unless they are Vietnamese 'Pot-bellies'?) but will ask John or Sue Ilsley when I see them. The walk to the Observatory drew just about a 'blank' the saving grace only being a trickle of Swallows and

half a dozen Whitethroats now mostly holding territories. Even for the 'ringers' things were a little slow, except that the very first bird trapped was a Spotted Flycatcher which I missed. After coffee news was received of a Cuckoo in the Top Fields so it was time to head in pursuit. Having missed this by seconds it was thought best to give it a little time hoping it would show again.

In the mean time this

Fox appeared out of the hedge

and took a steady prowl across the horse paddock.

Within a minute or two this Spotted Flycatcher turned up in the same field, and while always at distance it did put on a fine show of, yes, 'fly-catching'.

These 2 photos are taken from the archive

for illustration purposes, and then, there it was scrabbling through the hedge

a (the) Cuckoo which very quickly took to the wing

flying across the field

before disappearing into another hedge, not to be seen again. In addition the flow of Swallows continued while a single Swift flew overhead and a female Redstart foraged among the bushes.

The Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher were both new species for 2011 an brought the
GB Year List up to 236 and the Dorset List to a round 190.

It's the royal wedding tomorrow which my daughter Lisa reminded me of in an e-mail saying, "bet you can hardly wait to see Kate's dress tomorrow, can you Dad"? When your daughter is your 'soul mate' they know you too well - LOVE to you all my lovely girl!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Down Under - Men @ Work

The main contrast in the weather today from previous days was the sky, completely covered by dark and threatening looking clouds but otherwise the wind remained in the NE quarter still making for a chill. Deciding to 'lash out' on a bus fare and heading directly to Portland, there were two minor happenings of note as a Common Tern flew over the cemetery, 'calling' loudly, while on Westham Bridge (partly build up area) a Lesser Whitethroat was 'reeling' from within a small isolated bush.

The walk through both Barleycrates & Reap Lanes, along the West Cliff across the Slopes and onward to the Bill passed without result, the full list reading just 5 Common Whitethroat, 3 Stonechat, 5 Wheatear plus a single Swallow. It seemed as if the day was to be more about what was ON the sea rather than what was flying over it as the

Scallop Dredger 'Boy Michael' (port of registry Colchester CK) steamed past Pulpit Rock on her way into Lyme Bay.

There were also a fair number of largish yachts

obviously taking advantage of the brisk breeze.

The military were also represented by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Small Tanker 'Gold Rover' which I though had been decommissioned years ago. I say that because the last time I saw her was in Simons Town, South Africa about 8 years ago, and even then she looked a little worn out.

Also out there was HMS Ocean, described as a Landing Platform, Helicopter (LPH) the 'sixth' Royal Naval vessel to bare the name. Hoping not to be to disparaging, her ungainly proportions make her look more like a British Rail Platform!

As I walked across the Common towards the Observatory, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were settled right up until the moment I raised the camera when 2 of them took to the wing. At the Obs there were a number of trainee bird 'ringers' taking advantage of the trickle of migrants, and after processing allowed me to take the following shots.

Lesser Whitethroat

and although these two look quite different they are in fact the same species Willow Warbler from different regions. The 'greyer' individual would be from a more Northern European ancestry, while the more yellow one, which we are more used to, hails from the south.

This male Common Redstart was the one shown via these pages last week, here again for comparison to a

female which was caught today.

and to end today, a few shots from others. The first four, which when I saw them last night on the Portland Bird Observatory Website, were immediately considered worthy of a wider audience and are © Martin Cade, Warden PBO.

The Bird Observatory was alerted to the presence of this Red-rumped Swallow (top right hand corner) by a group of observers looking for passing sea-birds at the base of the lighthouse.

With what could only be described as 'lightning reaction,

these fantastic images were captured

which, with kind permission, I now have the pleasure of passing on to you.

and from A 'Land Down-Under:-

This is The Family 'York', my son in law Bernard holding holding the rapidly growing Frederick (the III) David, and my beautiful youngest daughter Lisa with new arrival Alexander (the I) James.

Mum & youngest Son

Mum & both Sons

Frederick (soon to be the find of a cure for the Common Cold and Australian or England Test Cricket Captain, or who knows just for novelty value BOTH!).