Monday, 9 May 2011

To The Crew of Her Majesties Tug 'Pilot'

I was intrigued to see this old photograph reproduced in the Free Portland Newspaper as I know, or knew a good number of the characters therein. Without knowing the year it was taken, I do know that when I became part of the Port Auxiliary Service in 1970 some of these people were by then 'senior' figures.

John Dawson was both a fine 'Signalman' and probably even better 'calligrapher', who's hobby was put to good use on many of the certificates of competence etc within the service. Stoker Pud Mahoney was a casualty of the accidental gun fire from the German Destroyer 'Schleswig Holstien', when 2 x 4.5 inch projectiles landed in the engine room of the Ocean Tug 'Sea Giant'. Boy Seaman Curley Hanger (now over 80 years old) was, by the time I entered the service a Higher Scale Captain and personally honed my skills as a ship handler, a fine man! While Bill Baker was the Chief Admiralty Pilot.

The forecasters had given intermittent rain showers for parts of the day, but luckily we didn't see any. In fact, the sun was shining most of the time, the wind was a light southerly breeze and it was generally warm.

My search to relocate the juvenile Night Heron at Radipole began at 06:00 but an hour latter there was still no sign.

I did however discover a previously unseen Coot's Nest but had planned to meet Jo Lawrence at 07:00 so had to get my skates on. With little news locally, we first headed for the Portland Bird Observatory where there had been no news of yesterday's Red-backed Shrike, but a male Golden Oriel had been seen to land in bushes close to

Suckthumb Quarry at Southwell. A vast area of bushes and scrub

especially at the back of Avalanche Church, it was a little ambitious, to say the least, to conduct a search. However, with little else on offer Jo and I did give the area a 'once over' but perhaps needless to say we drew a blank!

Returning the The Bill we joined a few 'sea-watchers' who were also having a lean time of it, so while Jo looked for scarce sea-birds I just photographed whatever was on offer.

This Oystercatcher was about all, so I changed to something more scenic.

Jo, left, was fitting in very well with the other observers at the Trinity House Obelisk

and soon there was something for her to see in the shape of 9 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua

A quick shot of us together for the album

plus one of Pulpit Rock we then set off across the Common where there was

this Pied Wagtail

and an even more confiding Carrion Crow

plus an unidentified Caterpillar. After a brief stop at Ferrybridge for Jo to see Little Tern we decided to call it a day and parted company with tentative plans for tomorrow. Literally arriving at my garden gate, there was a message from Bowie and Sheila informing me of a 'calling' Bee-eater likely flying over the spot where I stood. Advising Jo to return, I first looked in the southern part of the cemetery, and when she arrived moved over to the northern part.

There, we both had fleeting glimpses of a European Bee-eater (photo from the archive) and informed some local birders. Extolling the fortune of adding another species to both the Year and Cemetery Lists, I turned around to spot

these 2 Roe Deer standing close to Jo's parked car.

This was also something I had never seen in the cemetery before

so they were added to the Mammal List, which now stands at 4 species!

The GB Year List + 247 while the Dorset Year List has reached - 203

and finally, I received an e-Mail from Colin Leake and Family in Toad River, Northern Yukon who seem to be eagerly awaiting my next visit, with promises of 'white water rafting'. Colin 'hunts' all their meat (Elk, Moose, White-tailed Deer etc) up there with a long and crossbow which I am also keen to have a go at, so roll on the first day of June when I fly to Los Angeles.

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