Monday, 28 February 2011

Thorn In My Side - Annie Lennox

Consigned to my desk-top and almost overlooked, no I didn't see this little beauty today - if only. This photograph of Northern Hawk Owl, sent to me by Paul Harris, is considered well worth sharing with the readership especially as one eminent Dorset birder I know considers this magnificent creature one of his 'Top Ten' birds in the world!

Despite being another dull, cold day with more than a slight chance of rain, it was the final one of February and my last chance to record a Wheatear before the month was out.

This Collared Dove, one of a pair, was the only target within camera range in the cemetery so I quickly moved on to Radipole. There I recorded what might well be yet another SOS (Single Observer Sighting) for me, the first

Mechanical Migrant of the year, arriving just in time for the RSPB Building Season. One can only presume (given the expense of Plant Hire) that this machine will be operational in the very near future, fitting in nicely with their plea for 'volunteers' to listen for 'booming' Bitterns. My personal prediction of this venture is that more than one person will hear a Bittern 'booming', despite what the Dorset records already show (Green et al) and will stand (within the RSPB) without furtherance!

I continue to watch and report as Annie might say.

Further on my favourite Drake, the Hooded Merganser, was showing again but that, apart from singing Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails, was all. The walk along the sea-front produced only c3 Great Crested Grebes and a single Black-necked Grebe in Weymouth Bay, while on Lodmoor this

Shelduck proved to photogenic to pass by. Not much further along the west path the White-fronted Goose (of the past few days) was showing well but distantly while in the bushes

c2 Firecrest were proving far less cooperative than the Shelduck. This is the best of a dozen images taken,

while this shot, taken from the archive, is how one should really be viewed. It was soon after this I met up with Daragh Croxson (recently returned from the Philippines) and Dick Morris who had just seen a Bittern land in the reeds close by. A short search ensued, and as Bob Ford joined our company he picked up twice on what was regarded as another flying briefly above the reeds. Almost like the 'gathering of the clan', Neville Fowler then happened along and surprise, surprise he had seen a third! Not surprisingly, I didn't see any of them! However, I was first to pick out c4 Black-tailed Godwit, and after Neville's departure we relocated the

Long-billed Dowitcher between us.

Over on Portland the quiet was only shattered by intermittent Naval Gunfire, but there was little in the way of bird life. The 3 mile (?) return walk from Southwell to the Bill produced just 3 Rock Pipit and not a single Skylark seen or heard but on the sea the familiar sight of this

local Mussels Dredger, HMS Moules Marinière,

my first Peregrine on the Island this year plus

the Exeter registered 'crabber' E521 'Rowella' returning to port at Weymouth.

In the field opposite the Observatory, c2 male Pheasants appeared to be vocally fighting for supremacy, and as the first rain of the day started to fall I set off for home.

Penultimately, Daragh has sent me 3 photographs from his recent trip, just a glimpse of the 150 new species he added to his World List - Thank You Daragh!

Philippine Frogmouth

Olive-capped Flowerpecker

Blue-throated Bee-eater

and finally an advert, sent to me by Dick Morris, for the next Joe Bonamassa gig. If things go to plan I may well be in Australia then, but otherwise, see you there!

The 'February Wheatear' will have to wait for another year!