Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Alpine Maid - Traditional Song USA

With a continued chorus provided by Blackcap, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler etc, etc, the only change weather-wise was just a few wisps of high, cirrus cloud and a wind that had 'backed' to the north, increased to a gentle breeze bringing with it something of an early morning chill. That's all it was in fact, as before mid-day it had dropped away to zero making for yet another Summer like day - the holiday makers must be loving it.

In the cemetery I cast my mind back just a short 3 months when this fruit tree, as regular readers will remember, was favoured by many of the winter Thrushes (Redwing & Fieldfare) while deep snow lay on the ground.

Once again I favoured an early visit to Portland but as ever took a long look across Radipole Lake, as shown above.

With some minutes in hand before the first bus of the Sunday service, there was time for more viewing of the local scenes, this the Inner Harbour, Weymouth

and from the opposite side of the Town Bridge the Outer Harbour and the gateway to the open sea. With precious little at Ferrybridge, it was directly to Barleycrates where the birding was in sharp contrast - birds everywhere.

OK, most were Wheatear, over 300 by my estimation, but in addition a few Swallows were still passing through, and unusually 2 feeding on the ground with the Wheatears. A total of 4 Whinchats, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Stonechat and singles of Redstart (a male) and Grasshopper Warbler.

Reaching the West Cliff, this vessel was seen laying to a single anchor and carrying blades for wind turbines, but I just couldn't see the name. I needn't have worried as my friend Roy Henderson has a house that has a better view over this stretch of water than the Coast Guard, and had already text me telling me it is the M/V Liamare. Presumably these blades are for the proposed 'wind farm' to be built between the Purbeck Peninsular and the Isle of Wight, and another huge advantage of constructing such an energy source off-shore little needs transporting by road.

Not the only craft in the Bay as the Charter Fishing boys were out today 'mob-handed' - 'tight lines you lot!

All that was seen between here and the Bird Observatory where a few of the breeding Fulmar, once again lots of Auks (Guillemots and Razorbill) but no Puffin today, while some had seen both Manx and Balearic Sheerwater - oh for the latter! However, at the Obs 'good fortune was destined to strike very quickly, and when someone told me a

Subalpine Warbler had been caught, I thought it was a 'wind-up'.

The range of this dainty little bird, a female in this instance, usually stops short of North Africa and Southern Europe, but this one seems to have overshot and made the day of a lucky few.

Fitting into the category of 'Rare' just a few do show up on our shores each year, so it would be a great shame not to show it at every angle possible - so here you are!

During the lull and a coffee that followed, there was time to look through one of the Moth Traps laid in the Obs garden overnight, and while the content was just 'common fare' I was mildly chuffed that my memory was still working at least a bit.

Powdered Quaker

Hebrew Character It was now time to head home, but just before leaving a

Chiffchaff was caught. Perhaps not the most striking of the British Warblers and likely the most common, but it is

remarkable in that some can, and do survive even the most severe winters GB can throw at them. In addition, all birds take on a new dimension when viewed 'in the hand' so I was more than please to see this one.

Chiffchaff head detail.

Dame's Violet

Finally, a word about the company I enjoyed today, not unusual at the Obs, but today 5 of these were children (including the Warden's 2 daughters) and a great pleasure to talk with these lovely people and give them a chance to have a go with a 'big boys' camera. It also makes me feel

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