Thursday, 1 December 2011

In Search of the Lost Chord - Moody Blues

For 'Chord' read 'Bird'!

The end of a most memorable November when no fewer than 8372 'hits' were logged on the Blog as 4 new counties joined the readership. There were 4 additions to the GB Year List (Glossy Ibis, Rosy Starling, Spotted Sandpiper* and Hume's Leaf Warbler*) with those marked * also increasing my Dorset List, while along with Dipper & Common Crane, it was the first time I had recorded any of them in the county during that month.

It is well known that, among several others, I keep an 'ongoing' Dorset Month List. That is to say once a species has been recorded in any particular month that is that which is interesting in itself but also spurs me on. So, with no fewer than 5 potential new birds to add to the December List (all rarities) it was an early start. First was a Ring-billed Gull, seen briefly at Radipole late yesterday afternoon, so despite the light rain I was searching there from first light. Helped by the usually present Ian Stanley, our search was in vane but there were a few Mediterranean Gulls (foreground) with Common Gull (behind), a number of Common Snipe, 5 Grey Heron, a Kingfisher and what sounded like a whole host of Bearded Tits with just a few seen.

In addition there was a single Black-tailed Godwit on the mud, but as I turned to leave 3 flew across the reserve.

Not the best of starts and the news on the birding websites had not been encouraging as it had not been reported for 4 days. That didn't mean the Spotted Sandpiper wasn't there, a bird that many must have thought might over-winter, so was always worth a look. It was the X53 that again that took me west and past what seem to be an unusually large number of sheep for this area,

before dropping down into the picturesque village of Abbotsbury with St Catherine's Chapel high on the hill in the distance.

Over a series of rolling hills, the next village is Burton Bradstock

with its quaint pub The Three Horseshoes.

At my destination Lyme Regis, now recognisable by most regular readers as being frequently visited of late, first on the scene were

about half a dozen Pied Wagtail

which along with

Rock Pipit are always good to see.

This is another Rock Pipit, the photograph being rather for the decaying wooden pile than the bird. With no sign of the Wader in the area where the River Lim meets the sea, it was just a short and very pleasant walk to the

(Lyme Regis) Harbour and the Cobb beyond. Along this stretch it becomes very obvious why so many birds linger here this time of year, as the Sand Flies were in 'swarm' proportions. Over the last 200 yards or so there were at least 48 Rock Pipits alone.

There is just a tiny beach where the sea wall meets the rocks forming an extension to the Cob, where I arrived just in time to see 19 Purple Sandpiper fly in.

Content to perch on the face of the stone work to start with, they soon moved to the beach where they began feeding, and where there may well have been another 2 making a total of 21??

One of my favourite Waders, hence the number of images, but although they are fairly recently arrived in a blink of the eye it will be time for them to return to their breeding grounds in Iceland.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Spot Sand, but hopefully it will be relocated over the next few days, I for one have not given up on it just yet and will likely return here again before the month is out!

Back to the River and a pair of Grey Wagtails had appeared

and were certainly worth a couple of shots as was a

Black Redstart not seen earlier in the day. With some luck starting to kick in, it was worth having a look for the

Dipper and joy of joys as the under-pinning work on a small bridge further upstream was completed making for no human disturbance.

A bird you could never get enough of, there were 2 here today and so good to see.

OK, no luck with the target birds so far but time for a pose in the new coat and an attempt to push the town clock over. As the return bus neared my stop a lady next to me received a call on her mobile describing where she was and the prevailing weather, Her exact words were "no rain yet and it doesn't like there will be any"! She was right, right up to the moment I stepped from the bus coinciding with the heavens opening. A mile and a half walk to hopefully see the

Hume's Leaf Warbler by which time the rain seemed to have set in for the day. Not ideal conditions to find, or see for that matter, such a tiny bird but on arrival met Dave Chown who after 40 minutes had finally located it. Fortunately, it showed again very quickly, but not wanting to get the camera/lens wet, this is the best that could be achieved. At least it was seen, and given the conditions very well, making it 1 out of 3 which is far preferable to 0 out of 3. I'll be looking for more tomorrow if the weather holds.

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