What about this then for a start to the day? After the addition of Haiti just a couple of days ago, we travel to the opposite end of the world to welcome
our 171st addition to the country/region readership list, the remote archipelago of NEW CALEDONIA!
New Caledonia (French Nouvelle-Calédonie) is a special collective of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) from Australia and about 20,000Km (12,000mi) from Metropolitan France. The island group, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre (which locals refer to as "Le Caillou", the rock), the Loyalty Islands, Belep and Isle of Pines. The Chesterfield Islands in the Coral Sea are also part of the group which has a total land area of 18,576 square Km (7,127 Sq Mi), a population of 256,275 (2011 estimate) with the territory capital being Noumea. Thanks to Wikipedia for this insight.
With the Summer Solstice now behind us, we break into the first day of summer proper and what a dull start it has been. The heavy and sometimes prolonged showers of overnight rain had left a leaden sky at daybreak coupled with a light but chilly breeze and drizzle the feel was little short of autumnal. Certainly not enough to keep me indoors, I was soon about my business and admiring the wayside spikes of PURPLE TOADFLAX along the path to Radipole.
There, all of note was this single LINNET and although this very common bird has featured a couple of time in recent days, it was thought worthy as a none to frequent visitor to the reserve.
Walking the eastern edge of Weymouth Inner Harbour, this GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL had found fortune indeed.
A decent size BALLAN WRASSE but not a resident of the harbour. This fish was most likely caught in open water by an angler who, as so often happens, decided not to take it home so discarded it.
Most fishermen know that this is not the best fish to eat, being full of tiny bones, so why do they feel the need to kill them? In my days as a spear-fisherman these sea-going clowns had a 'no points' value so were never shot, easy targets as unlike other 'round' fish they would not swim away.
During a wander along Weymouth promenade to catch the bus, the progress on the Sand Model Amphitheatre was noted,
and further along I met up with PROFESSOR MARK POULTON the Weymouth Punch and Judy man. Mark tells me that his next project is a larger 'fold down' kiosk where, when he has completed making them, he will introduce String Puppets. (Holding your nose and reading out loud) Punch - That's the way to do it, Juuuudy, Juuudy my beauuuuuty come upstairs. Judy - no I won't etc, etc.
At Portland Bill, the weather conditions got even worse and by the time I reached the Obelisk the rain had returned, the wind increased and the sky got darker.
Maybe the same KESTREL as yesterday, but looking a little more bedraggled met me at the Admiralty Compound fence
It seemed even the Commercial Bass Fishermen had called it a day but this may well have been coincidence as they would have fished the last couple of hours of the flood tide at least. Only ever using rod and line for specific species (BASS) and regulated as to catch size, this is a most Eco Friendly way of fishing there being no 'by-catch' to throw overboard dead!
Back to the Lobster conundrum of yesterday, and a 'comment' from my learned and long time birding friend Bob Ford.
Paul, that stuff on the lobster is a Colonial Sea Squirt, so you were quite close when you said it might be a sea urchin.
and as promised the erecting and inaugural ringing of the
MONO PROJECT BELL
Still haven't found out a lot more about this and really cannot imagine where the design came from.
My own thought strayed to Tibetan/Medieval/Nazca Indians, but do know the surface of the bell is finished to represent Roach Stone. This is the layer above the Cap Stone and Whitbed (the world famous Portland Stone St Paul's Cathedral, York Minster et al) and contains a multitude of tiny fossils giving a jagged unfinished sort of look.
Here my friend Jane White of the Portland Court Leet (part of the Island's Governing Body) and wife of the Secret Lemonade Drinker, officially strikes the bell for the first time. The photos are courtesy of their son Robert (keep it in the family guys and Thank You Very Much).