Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Reeling In The Years - Steely Dan

Rock Trivia - from where did Donald Fagen and Walter Becker lift the name Steely Dan?

The rendezvous with my 'birding' mate Jo Lawrence was same time 07:00, same place the Radipole car park, but there was much action before that. On another morning of hazy sunshine, partial cloud and a gentle breeze the situation was 'grave' in the cemetery as I encountered firstly this pair of

Grey Squirrels 'bonking' away like Boris on a gravestone and a little further on the now seemingly resident

Roe Deer. From previous pictures, my friend John Gifford has deduced that these 2 are possibly mother and fawn, the female being likely pregnant again, but John is surprised that there is no male in attendance. I am surprised that they are here at all given the 'postage stamp' size of this site and the almost continuous flow of human traffic. He also suggests that the Caterpillar of a couple of days ago is that of the Lackey Moth.

The next occurrence was indeed music to my ears, as Paul Harris and Dick Morris both alerted me to the presence of a Savi's Warbler at Lodmoor. Thus far it had not been seen, but the song of some of the Locustella Warblers (referred to as 'Reeling') is most distinctive but one reel can be confused with another. No time then for anything else to to phone Jo and get her to get the 'sprinting blocks' nailed in. In double quick time she was there to pick me up, and arriving at Lodmoor there was no need to leave the car as the 'reeling' could be heard loud and clear.

Savi's Warbler photographs both 'borrowed' from the Internet.

Perhaps not described as 'skulkers', this species is by and large confined to reed-beds and thick, attendant bushes so are usually very difficult to see, but easily heard and occasionally given to perching prominently, but there were to be 2 bonuses with this bird. First of all, a Grasshopper Warbler was also 'reeling' in the same area allowing excellent comparisons between songs, and it did show a couple of times to the lucky few. Described by Green (The Birds of Dorset) as a 'rare' passage migrant and summer visitor, which had bred in the county, this was only my third sighting in almost 40 years. My first was at Radipole in 1982, followed by the second only a few metres away from where today's bird was found.

Taking a short intermission from this most welcome Warbler, I wandered off to see the first of 2 male Garganey (in company with Canada Goose and Oystercatcher)

which obligingly climbed out of the water as the other flew off into the middle of the Moor.

This male Wigeon also flew off with its mate.

Next, I needed to take a look at the recently returned Arctic Tern which has arrived at the Common Tern colony for yet another year. In 2009 it did mate with a Common with a chick hatching but didn't live long enough to fledge. This year once again it seems it is having to content itself with 'fish carrying', but no recipient, displaying to anything close by in the hope of another chance.

Arctic Tern

Common Tern

There are also, like most other places, lots of Common Whitethroat.

Returning to the Savi's a small group were still gathered, with among them Martin Cade (left) Warden of the Portland Bird Observatory and Kevin Lane (third from right) the Dorset County Bird Recorder. In addition to the above, there were also 4 Dunlin , a Ringed Plover, a male Marsh Harrier and a good number of Swifts, and although the news was bleak from Portland we decided to try our hand there.

Valerian, a plant synonymous with Portland to me, is now blooming along every road side, dry stone wall and derelict building and the

huge Sow in the Reap Lane small holding has now given birth. There were 14 'piglets' in all, with one dying in labour and another since

but the remaining dozen appear to be doing very well in deed. We did walk the full length of Barleycrate, making a circuit of it along the West Cliff and Reap Lane but there was literally nothing to report. As tomorrow is Jo's last full day we may try somewhere a little further afield but we'll have to look at the bird websites and weather before committing.

Steel Dan is a mechanical 'sex toy' in the William S Burroughs novel Naked Lunch - next!

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