Monday, 23 May 2011

Runaway - Del Shannon

It was a severe case of 'Slack Hammock' this morning, emerging from my bed at the crack of 08:30, but with the mornings formalities complete in quick time it was off to Radipole. Condition today were on the whole very blustery, with the wind remaining in the west, a leaden sky threatening rain and once again a chill in the air.

However, with a report of the first Southern Marsh Orchid on the reserve

there was no time to loose. The approach path to the North Hide holds the largest number of these beautiful but delicate plants (since the RSPB dug up the 200 strong colony elsewhere) so that was to be my starting point. Delighted to have seen a few in full bloom, I turned to leave for Portland but encountered Luke Phillips the RSPB Information Officer who told me that the Kingfishers were about due to fledge and that Sand Martins had been showing some interested in the purpose built breeding wall.

Taking an 'about turn' in the hope of seeing both of these, I entered the hide to find Nick Quintrell who parades under the heading of Warden whose reply to my jaunty and polite "good morning" was a terse "it was"! Now to be fair I have made some rather scathing remarks (all absolutely true) about this individual so I wouldn't expect him to be my best mate, but in sharp contrast he has never summoned up the courage to engage me on what my readership, et al, now know to be his failings. Alone in the hide together, I would have thought that someone who's bread and butter relies on Public Relations would at least make an effort to cast oil on troubled waters, but no he just 'ran away'! It is a fallacy to believe there is no such animal as 'bad publicity', I was here long before you arrived and hopefully will be long after they get rid of you, with eyes and ears wide open!

and so onward to far more pleasant happenings, and while the Kingfishers appeared to still be in the nest both parent birds were buzzing around in feeding mode. This shot shows one of the adults perched on the Sand Martin Wall. Unfortunately, I didn't even see a Sand Martin let alone recording any breeding activity at the Wall which is a great shame, but there may well still be time this year?

With Orchids and nesting birds mind, it can be seen from this image that the new pathways on the reserve are well constructed and adequate even for wheelchair users. Why oh why then has it been necessary to start cutting the vegetation on this of all weeks when these beautiful plants are emerging?

Cutting has taken place all along the margins, punctuated by patches extending into the reed-beds as shown. I extend an opportunity to the RSPB in Weymouth to answer 2 questions through the Comments facility on this Blog. (1) Why are you cutting these verges at this critical time of the year &

(2) How do you know there isn't a Cetti's Warblers nest or another atrofusca or fulvofusca waiting to fall to your blades? The public (the Owners of these areas) have a right to know why these practices are allowed to continue!

Note:- This photograph of the Orchid atrofusca, so rare it doesn't yet have a common name, was taken on Radipole last year. It is not advisable to enter into detail, but suffice to say this single specimen of this tiny plant may yet be found to be the only example in Great Britain. It would only be with great Luck that one could be detected prior to grass cutting.

Before leaving for Portland this Cetti's Warbler was caught out in the open.

Another new Coot's nest and

the Mute Swan continues to incubate close to the Gurkha restaurant.

This photograph, taken from the bus, is of the visiting Cruise Ship 'Marco Polo'

The Little Known Side of the Portland Bird Observatory

Open mind for a different view!

With few people at the Obs, a stiff breeze continuing and few migrant birds anyway, I was given the rare privilege of taking a 'behind the scenes' look at some of the workings at the PBO.

Only my third look in nearly 40 years at the extensive garden that runs from the lighthouse towards the sea, much work is carried out here. Filled with bushes and 2 ponds it is an ideal landfall for birds having just flown the English Channel, offering both food and cover. First on the agenda was the 'ringing hut' where many hundreds of birds are marked with a tiny leg ring.

The painstaking and often tiring work requires patience in copious amounts, total dedication and a gentle touch.

Some of the paraphernalia of the 'ringer' includes a vast array of rings of various sizes.

Various tools to fit the ring, weigh and measure the bird and

and a 'ringing log' to record all details gleaned.

The central pond, out of view to the casual observer on the patio.

One of many 'mist nets' strategically placed around the garden, this one furled in the breezy conditions.

Moth Trapping is also another huge part of the Observatories monitoring function, with several of these 'light traps' set around the garden overnight.

and what might be considered the main pond, viewable from the patio, with just one creature on

show during my visit, a male Broad-bodied Chaser.

I've set the clock to see just how long it takes the RSPB to answer the questions, ignore them (most likely) or come up with an excuse for not doing so!