Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Bird in the Hand is Worth 8 Round a Table - Ummm?

Leaving home at 06:00 it looked as if my day was going to be short lived as the fully covered sky looked full of rain. At the cemetery I was met by a host of Common Swift gathering overhead, which soon disappeared, otherwise there was just expected fare with both

Goldcrest and Coal Tit singing away but no confirmation of breeding. A different story along the western path leading to Radipole as

2 adult male Bullfinch in company with an adult female

were showing off their 5 offspring, but not long enough for a photo call.

Likewise there several young Tufted Duck but all except this one too distant for a shot, while

dad stayed in close attendance.

At the top of the lake, this Great Black-backed Gull had caught something

which remains unidentified but thought to be either a large Blenny or more likely an Eel.

Whatever, it soon disappeared from view!

Having watched a number of Mute Swan Cygnets continue to grow over the past couple of weeks it was strange to hear from Eileen White at the Observatory Book Shop, that she had been told by a RSPB Staff Member that they had all come to grief at the 'hands' of Great Black-backed Gulls as well.

As I reported to her then, there are at least 8 thriving as these pictures show, so hope this will reassure you dear lady.

On the way to Lodmoor and with many of the barriers now removed, it was well worth 10 minutes to view some of the new road system in Weymouth. To a none car owner it looks amazing, but I've heard nothing but moans from most residents. I don't know whether this is just the English preoccupation with talking everything down, or maybe I'm missing something having not driven in the Borough since the works. Come to the town and make up your own mind!

It is usual for me to take another brief stop at the Railway Station during this walk, for a short chat with taxi driver Dave Waller. Today we were interrupted by this

'Squab' a young Wood Pigeon which perched on his door frame, but luckily didn't leave a 'calling card' on Dave's Merc.

On the sea-front, the 'gloom' continued as looking towards The Purbeck Hills shrouded in murk, looked more like Mordor than Dorset.

On the Moor there are still a number of Common Sandpipers

5 by my count

in company with 2 Greenshank,

an unknown number of Lapwing,

a single Little Egret, 8 Oystercatchers, a single Green Sandpiper,

4 Black-tailed Godwit

plus a few small groups of Dunlin which were given much more than a passing glance in search of the now elusive Stilt Sandpiper. The search for the sandpiper continued for a further hour, without result, the only sighting being

a hapless Earthworm that had fallen prey to a nest of Ants.

I have often waxed lyrical though these pages of the opportunities for young people at the recently constructed National Sailing Academy (prior to the 2012 Olympic Games) at Portland.

This morning there was a chance to rattle off a couple of shots of these youngsters taking full advantage, In the top image a 'crew' make preparation to man an Oil Drum Raft, while those here are already waterborne in a variety of Canoes.

Others were heading for small sailing dingies which are out of shot.

At the Portland Bird Observatory it was more about Moths than Birds, but there wasn't an abundance of either. It was good to see my first Rosy Rustic of the year along with

Single-dotted Wave

Rosy Footman

and Dusky Sallow on Mint.

I had left a few promises during my last trip to show our new readers in the USA and Canada some views of my beautiful local area. Hoping there will be more to come in future post, here for the time being are all 3 of the Lighthouse at Portland Bill. The 'Higher Light' is the oldest of the three and has had something of a chequered career. As well as an aid to Mariners, it has been a private house, restaurant, the home of birth control pioneer Marie Stopes and is today available to all as a Bed & Breakfast. Hereabouts it is still fondly referred to as The Stopery.

What is now the Portland Bird Observatory left and the 'active light' a little further away.

I ended my walk in the company of a few more lovely 'birds' (doubt they'll mind me describing them as such) and a couple of 'soft' (yes soft) drinks. It's fatherly duties for me tomorrow, taking daughter Julie and family to Heathrow Airport from where they fly to Sydney, Australia to visit younger sister Lisa and her family. With the 'KIDS' out of the way, and their car at my disposal I too am off on yet another adventure which should start on Saturday so WATCH THIS SPACE!

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