Sunday, 17 April 2011

Tea For One - Joe Bonamassa (Led Zeppelin)

This morning was as much about expectation as anything else, as the Rare Bird Alert among others had, at close of play yesterday, announced the arrival of both Ortolan and Cretzschmar's Bunting in the county and not a million miles apart.

Even at 06:00 the weather was warm and by the time I got to the bus stop at 07:00 the sun was shinning, the sky was blue and the wind nothing more than a zephyr a day set fair for a good walk. With a little time in hand before the first bus, there was time to pay a short visit to a mate I hadn't seen for many a month, and as his anglers for a charter fishing trip were already boarding

Flamer IV, in the inner harbour, it was great to see

Skipper Colin Penney after such a long time. So out of the picture I I hadn't realised Flamer III had been superseded by a new generation boat. The promise of a pint at a later date, the bus dropped me at Ferrybridge where there was even more action as again unbeknown to me the annual Dorset

24 Hour Endurance Challenge was well underway. The chap in the orange coat was an official, but the other 2, competitors, had left Studland at 18:00 yesterday evening to start the course that would take them along the Purbeck Peninsular via St Alban's Head, then along its west coast, via the notoriously steep Bat's Head, to Ringstead, Osmington, Preston, Weymouth, around the Portland Coastal path and the Bill and along the Fleet to Charmouth close to the border with Devon. This by my estimation is close to 60 miles, which would 'puff me out' if I took the bus, good luck to all participants and organisers, and of course your charities!

As for birds, there were a total of 9 Sandwich Terns ( a couple perched on the small mooring buoys) plus

3 Mute Swans flying south high above the

Chesil Beach before loosing altitude and disappearing behind the West Cliff, Portland.

Before continuing my journey to the Bill, it was noticed that the Thrift (Sea Pinks) are now in bloom and when the 'carpet' of flowers is complete I'll endeavour to bring you a picture!

Walking Barleycrates Lane to the cliffs

an un-photographed female Redstart was seen, along with this far more obliging Dunnock,

while along the coast dozens ofGarden Snails were taking advantage of the overnight moisture and this

small boat fisherman was busily pulling his Crab pots. There were quite a number of bird watchers on the hoof today, but unfortunately the birds were not playing their part as most were sitting on the Observatory veranda 'yarning'. Not that I mind this one bit as it gives opportunity to catch up with those who have been absent over winter. John (JR) Ricards being one of those who's repertoire doesn't end at 'birding;. His knowledge and conversation on the subject of contemporary music is, I hope, in line with my own and this morning was no exception as we wandered through Jethro Tull, Yest, Genesis et al, before realisation that we had both discovered Joe Bonamassa at about the same time. With that, he kindly loaned me 3 of Joe's albums, containing a number of tracks that I have not thus far heard one of which is on the Juke Box as we speak.

Natural Break - have just had to get out the 'Air Guitar', free with the February edition of Classic Rock Magazine, and play the 'lick' from New Day Yesterday, then turn my attentions to his rendition of the Zeppelin classic Tea For One - you really ought to keep me away from such things JR, but thanks anyway!

That's when the Tree Pipit got caught in one of the mist nets, and the conversation turned dramatically, another 'first for the year'. Thanks to Peter Morgan (el Prof) this was also added to the 'Bird in the Hand' photo file. After this there was little in the way of bird action, and as fellow 'birder' and friend Julian Thomas had decided to investigate the Ortolan, I was only too happy to keep him company on the drive to Christchurch.

On the way a Jay put in a brief and distant appearance, while one of the 2 pairs of Garganey (Ducks) were showing, but only via the telescope, across the lake - an addition to the Dorset year List. It was obvious the couple of dozen people across the watercourse were looking at our target, and very soon we joined them only to find the bird being less than 'showy'.

However, Ortolan on the list, is Ortolan on the list and

slowly but surely it started

to show more of itself

giving decent 'scope' views

and not too bad for a photo or two.

Part of the vast expanse of Longham Lakes and

some of the 30 or so other 'birders' enjoying not only a Year Tick, but my first ever 'spring' Ortolan.

Among those in attendance was, of course Julian left and for the second time this year George Green, author of The Birds of Dorset and co-author, along with Martin Cade, of Where to Watch Birds in Dorset & Hampshire. Having not seen George for about 6 years prior to the White-tailed Eagle in February the 'No 68 bus syndrome' kicks in and there he was again - good to see you George!

Home was now very much on the cards, but there 'pager' crackled to life to tell us of a Night Heron seen at the River Stour Country Park but last reported flying downstream. As luck would have it my dear friends the Dampney's just happen to own this 'beat' of the river, and were more than happy to welcome both Julian and I to make a search. All in vane unfortunately except for a second House Martin of the year for both of us, and

this Wood Pigeon sitting on eggs. However, neither Julian or I baulked at the Cider and Chocolate Cake served on the patio after the event - Good to see you Hugh. Janet, Daz and Kath, see you again as soon as I run out of food or good wine!

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