Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Through the Trees - Handsome Family

You didn't need a 'crystal ball' this morning to predict the longevity of today's 'birding' foray, no even before springing out of the bunk the storm clouds were gathering. As usual a wander through the cemetery, with a view to taking a look at the Ash Tree saplings within, but also taking more notice of the other trees than on a daily basis. 
I know the names of few of them, always thinking this might be Holm Oak?
and this Redwood of sorts.
It was however interesting to find this 'burr' on the same tree and not previously noticed
and also the evidence of a by-gone age!
The only birds of note were c2 ROOKs, a species recorded daily as 'fly-overs'
but rarely seen on the deck.
Another item I have passed by a thousand times and never noticed, this IVY BANK,
but not so the Ornamental MAPLEs which are eye-catching at any season but especially now.
Not surprisingly the afore mentioned saplings appear to be in fine fettle, with Ash Die-back Disease still confined to more northerly counties than Dorset. The question remains however, for exactly how much longer??
Most of the Fungi here usually falls quickly to dog walkers, but today there were at least 30 'stands' of this fine looking specimen. The rain had started in earnest long before reaching Westham Bridge, with the wind well up into 'gale-force' numbers
causing something of a 'Blowing in the Hood' - Bob Dylan - HOODED MERGANSER.
PS:- If you haven't yet caught up with 'The Handsomes', then maybe you ought to give them a try. Different and very much 'to the point' lyrically! Try this 'side splitter' before you take supper this evening, noting the words!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Wanderer (s) - Dion

A complete contrast to the weather today as bright sunshine replaced yesterday's rain, the wind dropped to next to nothing leaving an almost hot feel to the day. Good job then that I put on fleece, shirt jacket and Arab scarf - Pheeew! Next to nothing in the cemetery, not even the Jays, while at Radipole things were similar except for a small party of Bearded Tits calling away as they flew close in front of me, several singing Cetti's Warblers along with
a male and
female TEAL close enough to photograph. Another look at the Pink-footed Goose of yesterday was worth the bus ride to Ferry Bridge, but on arrival I was intercepted by Graham Bright who informed me of a
just along the Rodwell Trail and close inshore of Portland Harbour.
Soon located, it was a bit further out than first described but feeding in short dives it was always going to be worth spending a little time to see it a little closer.
Patience paid off and while it was never 'point blank' some great views were had of a bird more often seen mid-harbour.
Back across Beach Road there was once a good gathering of Brent Geese, but Graham had reported that he hadn't seen the Pink-foot.
Settling down at the nearest point to them a Black Brant plus c6 Pale-bellied Brent were seen along with c7 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Little Egret.
Then suddenly everything was put to flight,
making for a spectacular sight, but what had spooked them.
It didn't take long to find out as these 2 people wandered across the sand flats in the direction of the birds. I like to think that they were just enjoying a day out, totally oblivious to the Geese, until they took to the wing and meant nothing by it.
On the way back I was able to witness once again the legacy Portland has gained from the Olympic Games, these white sailed yachts being just a small part of the fleet of about 100 out there this morning.

Monday, 29 October 2012

I Am A Mole and I Live In A Hole - The Southlanders

In truth, I have never cared for the cut of Peter Saunders jib, an arrogant individual, 'font of all knowledge' who seems to think there should only be one voice in any conversation. On the other hand, his lady wife Debbie is mild mannered, charming and probably, and equally, the most well versed female 'wildlifer' I know. However, for the sake of 'peace on earth' I always meet them with a respect and have, over the years they have lived in the borough, frequently notified them of any bird sightings that come my way. So, it was always inevitable that sooner or later, after the debacle of the 'rare Warbler' in their garden a week ago, that we would eventually meet up.
It was a filthy start to the day with a high wind driving heavy rain against the windows, so I awarded myself a Guard and Steerage (an official lie in) which was preferable to being branded 'Slack Hammock' (lazy git). Hardly had the Nescafé settled in the bilges before a text alerted me to a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE at Ferrybridge, unbelievably just 11 days after sighting the Purple Heron at Radipole (up until then my Dorset Bogey Bird) than it's replacement on that list as the next Bogey, suddenly becomes a prospect. Clutching bus pass and bins in my mitt I arrived at the bridge at the same time as a thunderous 'front' shed its load and began a very damp search for the Grey Goose among about 1,000 Brents. Reaching the lee of the Visitor's Centre, I felt sure I could see it on the left flank of the huge gaggle which was quickly confirmed by JW, who appeared from nowhere, erected his 'scope, picked up the bird and gave me a prolonged look. That's when Saunders arrived.
I had seen his approach, so I for one was not caught on the back foot, but clad in my hood, against the elements, he was unaware that it was me. Now, I am going to be extremely careful with my words from here, not wishing to distort the 'one sided conversation' in any way and for the sake of brevity, stick just to the salient bits! He began by saying "I want to tell you the TRUTH (emphasised) about what happened last Monday", so believe you me I was all ears. He told me that when the bird was found, he and his wife knew that it was something 'rare' and immediately decided that they were not going to encourage a 'cast of thousands' so would only invite a 'select few'. His reasoning was, not to bring about the situation of the crowds that gathered following the discovery of a Collared Flycatcher in late April 2009. As an aside, and without interrupting him, I visited that bird every day it was present and didn't witness, or hear of any misbehaviour at all save a 'third part' account of a 100 year old lady who was purported to have said "why don't you lot f**k off and leave us alone". Everyone who had been invited was sworn to secrecy, before entering the property, as a small number of people gathered in the garden, where a little later he attracted the attention of those present and said "where's Paul Baker"? This was met, he went on to say, by "TOTAL SILENCE"! Flabbergasted, I did break my own silence to ask why he thought that was? "Because your HATED in the Birding Community" he replied. Now, it would be naive indeed for anyone to think that they know all their enemies, but with such characters as Ricky Lambert, Ken Parker, Hugo Wood-Homer, Dave Tissington, Martin Cade et al in situ, it would be impossible for me to believe that any such announcement was ever made. Nonetheless, he did say that he thought I was 'away', despite me having reported a Wood Warbler to him personally during the preceding couple of weeks and having seen me in a neighbours garden even later than that. Not withstanding this and given the magnitude of the bird surely a text, just in case, might have been a better idea? It was felt that he was now taking on an air of desperation, which was adequately endorsed when he brought up the subject of the Red-necked Stint and my failure to either positively identify it or report it to the community. That is documented elsewhere on this Blog, but I did interject to observe that I was now in excellent company as everyone, with the exception of Brett Spence, left that garden believing the bird to be a Eastern Crowned Warbler. Having kept my own council for long enough listening to this 'waffle', I was getting thoroughly P'ed off. Eventually, he asked what I had to say about the situation my answer being, from what I had heard thus far, "NOTHING". He then said something incoherent about an 'agreement', offered me his hand, which I declined and I departed telling him that I would always meet him and Debbie with politeness but little more than that. I did also issue an unequivocal and sincere apology for the 'cut-throat' gesture I made towards him the day after the Warbler was sighted.
In addition to all of this, there was also a snippet regarding Debbie making, what was described to me as a 'frantic' telephone call to Cornwall where Dorchester 'birder' John Down was on holiday and had (without their blessing) already received the news of the bird, in an attempt to maintain the Ring of Secrecy. Bearing in mind the 'oath to silence', it is now known that 2 people (Brett and John) had been informed by someone other than the Saunders' - a MOLE, now I'm sure there are a few who'd like to know who that might be, not least the Saunders' and Me!
It made my short visit to Asda on the way home a much more pleasant affair when I met LES BLAKE, a work colleague who I have not seen in an age. Don't seem to have changed a bit 'Blakie' and 86, hard to believe. Best Wishes Shipmate.
and just to close on a cheery note a final few cartoons from Willie Downes.

Apologies to Portlanders, I had no idea how to block the 'last word' out!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

America - Manic Street Preachers

Another day of great forward progress at home, but little in the way of information regarding the Warbler at Sea Mist on Monday. Seems someone had the idea that about 27 people saw the bird, but the very few I have spoken too really don't know how that number was reached. I will compile a list. It has also been said that there was no 'malice' attached to any of this activity, a suggestion I am still having great difficulty believing.
Anyroad, back to a proper hobbyist and my next trip away. Giving too much detail would, I believe, spoil the impact of what is hoped to be the continuation of the daily Blog, but for now can say that the direction will be WEST and hopefully include countries on the South America mainland that I have not previously visited. With that in prospect, here are a few shots and videos taken during my trips to Colombia and Venezuela, in the hope that some at least might be re-visited.
male BAT FALCON (a tiny thing only the size of a Common Starling, the female however is 1/3rd larger again). 
and finally, I often get a laugh for some of Willie Downes offering but today he has excelled himself, so thought they should be shared with you!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

China (Boo Hoo) Girl - David Bowie

Well, you were notified earlier in the week, we haven't left the house today! Bright, sunny but cold for the duration the day didn't start as well as was hoped as I knocked my c1750 Qianlong Charger off the work-top, score at 08:30 Me 0 - Antiques World between £250 and £300 quid. Looking on the bright side, at the end of the day it's only a bit of Chinese Junk, well it is now. Otherwise, everything has progressed famously with quiet a few mails on the subject of the Pale-legged Mist Warbler (see Comments at foot of yesterday's post), mammoth progress at home along with a relaxed late afternoon drooling over the prospects on the next trip. All else on offer are a few photographs from the window of the Secret Coffee Lounge on Portland. 
One of c4
plus a single
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, now seemingly semi-resident in gardens hereabouts. Hope there's time tomorrow to visit the archive at the very least.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A Trick of the Tail - Genesis

My departure from home this morning coincided with the start of a light drizzle which was exasperated by a freshening north easterly breeze. It was however the slamming of my out of control front door that flushed the
BLACK REDSTART from my garden wall, never to be seen again. My attentions should have been more concentrated on things the other side of the door but with such a start (no pun intended) it was off to the cemetery. Even before reaching the gateway the sound of 'Crests' were heard with
GOLDCREST very quickly located. On a morning when 'spotting' such tiny birds let alone photographing them was difficult I found lee behind a large Yew bush to sort through the many dozens within.
Further difficulty was trying to determine an accurate count, but in all I felt comfortable with at least c5 FIRECREST, more that ever encountered there before.
A particularly poor picture, but relevant to me, as the first sighting this year of an adult feeding a juvenile bird. By no means conclusive proof that they have bred here as both were capable of flight and may have come from elsewhere, but do breed here most years.
 JAYs were far less troublesome, just on size alone, but continuous squawking helped in
locating at least c10 individuals, another record count for me at the location. Chaffinch were also numerous as both Siskins and Meadow Pipits flew overhead
as a Great Spotted Woodpecker knocked 10 bells out a snapped off tree.
With both wind speed and precipitation increasing, conditions were becoming prohibitive for sensible birding, but before leaving there was one more (insignificant) record to be broken. With all photos plucked from the archive, c2 RAVEN were seen (here with a COMMON BUZZARD) flying over,
CARRION CROWs in usual good number,
JACKDAW on adjoining rooftops,
ever present MAGPIE
plus fly-by ROOKs made it a record 6 Corvides in a single visit - not noted before.
I did spend some of the remainder of the day looking for an 'apparent' Olive-backed Pipit at Portland, and trawling through some of the 'many' comments relating to the Rare Warbler seen at Southwell on Monday, of which a couple caught my eye. Firstly, I would respectfully correct Lee Evan's where he states on his Blog that "only selected local birders were invited", with the definition of 'LOCAL BIRDERS' relating to those 'resident' on Portland. Fact is Hugo Wood-Homer lives in Puddletown, both Ken Parker and Dave Tissington in Weymouth, while County Recorder Kevin Lane lives I know not where, but much further afield? 
The DorsetDipper said... (via Brett's Goosey Ganderings) When birds are on private property we just have to respect the rights of the owners and take the consequences. Missing birds is one of the hazards of birding and if people can't accept that and still behave reasonably then perhaps they should hang their binoculars up. Congratulations on seeing it, and for the second time this autumn well done on rejecting the accepted opinion. Hope the moaning of others hasn't spoilt your enjoyment of the moment. 25 October 2012 11:16
While agreeing ENTIRELY with every word, it is rather an over simplification of such a situation, for which there is no definitive answer. I have already spoken to a number of the estimated 27 who saw it, with each overjoyed at the prospect of adding a MEGA to their list, but similarly distraught at being constrained by a 'ring of silence'. One told me of being unable to phone his Best Birding Friend of many years for fear of the backlash and now faces the onerous task of facing him and presenting a plausible case for not doing so. I am finding myself completely intrigued by the whole performance, already having received 13 e-mails with some making allegations that I certainly couldn't publish or substantiate. However, it is starting to sound as if there is more to this than protecting the bird or for that matter the local community, as a number of things quite simply don't add up. I am now keeping my ear very much to the ground, in the knowledge that the human race has never been able to keep a secret and one thing I do know for sure, there is a 'Trick in the Tale'!