Friday, 31 August 2012

Bird In The Hand - Ice Cube

The early morning 'Mackerel' sky and unseasonable chilly wind quickly gave way to the bright sunshine as the day wore on and even before leaving the house I was in for a treat or two. A neighbour had given me a Yucca plant some time ago, and while that is doing very well the 'self set' Buddleia that has grown beside it is outstripping it in size. I had attempted to pull it up but very pleased not to have had the strength as there on the path was this fine
which quickly decided that the blooms would be far favourable than the concrete. Racing indoors to collect both camera and binoculars I returned to hear something of an unusual 'chirruping' from above
recognisable as a TREE SPARROW. The bird was in fact seen but would have been of no use had it remained mute, so what is an excellent record in Dorset these days was immediately entered in the log. Archive photo. In the cemetery there was a family party of Coal Tit, confirming breeding there this year, along with more Insects than probably the total seen during the rest of the year?
 Diptera, the FLIES, is not a subject I'm at all familiar with although they intrigue me, so consulting the Field Guide this specimen is thought to be Sarcophaga carnaria, sounds a bit too technical to me!
This would appear to be the Hoverfly Volucella inanis
along with maybe another Hoverfly Syrphus ribesii.
This appears to be the same Insect but is posted more for 'artistic content' due to the leaf. The 'full moon' is upon us at present, making for and early (07:00) high tide so directly to Portland Bill on the bus rather than Ferry Bridge. Ain't it always the way, as from the bus window I spotted what for me at least was the first
BRENT GOOSE of the year and the first I have ever seen in the month of August - only just! Archive photo.
There was certainly some action at the Bill as within minutes a good number of Hirundines were recorded, mostly Swallows but at least 6 Sand Martins along with a couple of House Martins. Around Pulpit Rock and the Common Wheatears too were in good numbers as were Pied Wagtail and Rock Pipits both of which seemed to be favouring the rock ledges.
At the Bird Observatory there was news of a Nightjar which had been seen twice, but for me there was the pleasure of the first returning BLACKCAP of the Autumn, a male,
and this ROBIN. With little in the Moth Traps to keep me Culverwell was to be the next stop as that was the direction the Nightjar was last seen flying.
The COASTGUARD HELICOPTER passed low overhead as I reached the bushes, but there was no sign of the target bird. Instead I got lucky with
lots of GOLDFINCH, a few Greenfinch
and a single RAVEN. The Whitethroat photos are from the archive for illustration. There was to be a final bonus before I left for home, by was of a Grasshopper Warbler which, bearing no 'ring' was not the one caught at the Obs earlier in the day.
Back at home the Buddleia was now awash with Butterflies as the presumed Painted Lady had stayed there to be joined by c5
c8 SMALL TORTOISESHELLS - makes me glad I didn't pull it up!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Seagull - Bad Company

 Seagull, you fly across the horizon
Into the misty morning sun.
Nobody asks you where you are going,
Nobody knows where you're from.
A peek out of the window at 05:00 and the town was once again shrouded in threatening black clouds looking every bit like a continuation of yesterday's wet weather. Hanging on for the turn of the high spring tide proved beneficial as I missed the only shower of the day and also caught up with this fine looking
LITTLE GREBE at Westham Bridge.
Whether keeping a low profile during the breeding season or just simply absent, this is the first I have seen for a number of weeks.
The bus to Ferry Bridge and already there was a strip of sand exposed at the southern edge holding a few small Waders, but they would have to wait until I had investigated what this HERRING GULL hand caught.
Its distinctive plumage showed that it is an individual that has taken up residence close to the bridge in recent month and had caught a PIPEFISH. A species that frequents the shallows and not difficult to catch I would suspect, but for a Gull devouring it would be quite another challenge. Narrow, long and bony makes it a bit of a bill full, but they are also strong, pound for pound, have a leathery skin so frequently found stranded and abandoned - bon appetite. 
Not all of the Waders further on were small as c2 Curlew, a Whimbrel and an Oystercatcher were among 100 or so each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, as were c7 Sanderling, c2 Turnstone and what was likely 'the' Knot of recent days. All else of note was a Little Egret in the margins until the mobile phone crackled into life, "a rare bird at Portland Bill"!
Paralympic Sailing starts over the weekend so already 'security' has been beefed up. HMS Bulwark deploying Merlin Helicopter with regularity, Dorset Police following suit, few more officers on the ground and as shown here the Met Water Division patrolling local sea area.
Continuing with Olympic business, I had chance today to serve a long outstanding apology to this gentleman. I have known Dave Derby since the early 70's but always thought his surname was Allan. In the Royal Navy, all with such name are affectionately referred to as 'Derby' Allan and I have always called him this. It wasn't until he was a Torch Bearer at the Bill that I realised his proper name so had chance to redress the matter this morning. All the best to you and Mrs Derby again David.
I think secretly that Secret is becoming a secret 'twitcher' and likes to know what is going on in the 'birding' world, so passed this mornings message on to him en route to the Bill. We met up in Southwell village and as we arrived were met by John and Morwellan Down and told that the 'rare bird' was still in sight and not too far away - can you see it yet??
Those already in attendance gave us a clue, so we headed for the group consisting of from left Keith Pritchard, Peter Coe, Martin Cade (Warden PBO), Ken Parker, Neil Arnold, JW (Williamson), Neil's partner Chris plus AN Other and there it was.
A splendid adult SABINE'S GULL
which I circled at a distance to bring you every angle possible.
A bird of Northern climes, it would be more suited to areas within the Arctic Circle right now than here in Dorset - but who's complaining?
On the approach of a local dog walker with her 3 dogs, I kindly requested she gave the bird a 'wide berth' which she duly did. Whether it was the presence of the animals or not, the Gull soon took to the wing, gained good altitude and disappeared to the west.
The Sabine's gull is named after the British general and scientist Sir Edward Sabine, who discovered the species in 1818 on the west coast of Greenland.
Having photographed all but 3 of the world's 54 Gull species, these images taken in the Pribilof Islands last year were the best achieved thus far of Sabine's.
Today's bird provided a much sort after closer view and shot than previously.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cuckoo Cocoon - Genesis

You didn't have to be a meteorologist to predict this mornings imminent weather, so no alarms and no surprises as persistent heavy rain set in at 09:00. Another chance to get things done indoors, but again a reliance on the photograph archive to bring a little colour to today's post. Having been absent for all of the Spring there are still several species of bird I need to catch up with for the Year List, so here are some that have joined the total so far.
and the far more dowdy female COMMON REDSTART.
LITTLE STINT both recorded at Ferry Bridge, while
this one 'in the hand' was caught on the Buchan Alpha Oil Rig some years ago.
PIED FLYCATCHER wasn't represented by a nice male,
but again by a few less striking females.
TREE PIPIT was only heard as I wandered the Top Fields some days ago,
but maybe a chance to see another plucked from a 'mist net' later in the year. Come back Prof all is forgiven!
I had 'heard' a CUCKOO earlier in the year at Parley Court Farm, so it was technically already on the Year List,
but to catch sight as I wandered Avalanche Road was considered a great bonus.
Finally, the 27th of the month also saw the second anniversary of the finding of Dorset's only