Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Mud In Your Eye

Today was not only the last of August, but also the final day of the Meteorological Summer only it was gloomy, overcast and darn right chilly early on with the sun only breaking through mid-afternoon. For me, after a spate of travelling and a fantastic dollop of Rock 'n' Roll, it was back to the familiar circuit starting as ever in the cemetery where there was hardly a cheep of bird song! There was a fleeting glimpse of a Goldcrest, but most numerous was Magpie totalling 7, so it was quickly on to Radipole.

There, the water level was lower than I ever remember before with the 'cut' through this reed-bed looking high and dry.

It would be right out of character for the RSPB to say "OK we have had it wrong" but to see the area looking more like a Refuge for ALL birds (particularly Waders) rather than solely a prospective breeding ground for Bittern was encouraging to say the least.

Add to that the almost absence of 'industrial style strimming' along ALL pathways gave the whole place a feel of a truly Wild Place. Please keep up this good work!

So low is the water, that along the western watercourse these Mallard were standing where previously they have only ever paddled.

Far more importantly, on the exposed mud outside of the Visitor's Centre the first Wader to be seen (thanks to Ian Stanley) was this Little Ringed Plover. In addition there were a few Dunlin, c2 Black-tailed Godwit while yesterday there was a RUFF! Ask yourself when was the last time you saw Ruff at Radipole?

This Grey Heron seemed also to be capitalising, having caught this good sized Eel which it occasionally dropped to the ground and speared with its stiletto like bill.

Black-headed Gulls would be here regardless of the water level, but it was interesting to see this 'first winter' bird

but even better as far as I was concerned this adult Lesser Black-backed Gull

with a hungry juvenile, a stage of plumage not previously photographed. Also seen here were a few House Martin, Chiffchaff, Blackcap plus Willow and several very vocal Cetti's Warblers.

So, onwards to Lodmoor where today I decided to walk the upper level along the Greenhill gardens, allowing a more elevated view of Weymouth Bay looking east to The Purbeck Peninsular and then

west towards the Isle of Portland, distant left, and Weymouth Town and Seafront.

Passing the tennis courts this shoal of fish caught my eye, making for a lovely splash of colour on an otherwise uninteresting fence.

On closer inspection each were seen to be unique in shape, style and decoration, with fishing hooks on this one replacing scales. Not only eye-catching but also a cleaver idea which I thought, had it been created by Chris Ofili, perched on 2 Elephant turds and hung in the Royal Academy would be worth £1000,000 and awarded the Turner Prise?

On arrival at the Moor, there was news of a Curlew Sandpiper which was seen but too distant for a photo, but there was also this Sandwich Tern,

a single Black-tailed Godwit,

3 or 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, a Green Woodpecker and a Common Buzzard.

An impromptu shot from the bus heading for Portland shows preparation for a fairly large sailing event, also seen later in the day close to the Middle Arm Breakwater.

Janet Reed had e-mailed me yesterday evening to tell me of the impending arrival of the Paddle Steamer Waverley to local waters. Thank You Janet.

Built in 1946, on the River Clyde, Scotland she is the last sea-going, passenger carrying Paddle Steamer in the world. It is also worrying to think that funds to keep her sea worthy are very much depleted. If you are able to help, please visit the web-site.

At the Observatory, Martin had held onto this Feathered Gothic Moth, a scarce visitor to the Island,

and also allowed me to photograph this bizarre looking Caterpillar of the Bedstraw Hawk-moth.

Next I spotted the 14 volumes, each one a tome, of the

which have been
I could easily have spent the rest of my life, let alone the rest of the afternoon, flicking through these pages, but found the paragraph above 'disheartening', to say the least. That was when John Lucas arrived back to report the now long-staying

Wryneck was showing well in the Obs Quarry. That was true enough, but still at some distance but today's image is an improvement on Sunday's, albeit slight.

At Culverwell, the 'tongued' blooms of Lords & Ladies have now been replaced by ripe berries and the birding about to be replaced by music.

Calling in to see my long time friend and shipmate Gary (the Secret Lemonade Drinker) White, is a guarantee of some stimulating muso talk and today was no exception. From Barclay James Harvest to Ten Years After, we were talking for a full 2 hours until this little beauty arrived in the garden.

One of 3 recorded today, this Common Redstart

took a thorough 'wash & brush-up before continuing its journey south.

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