|Short-toed Eagle, Morden Bog: possibly my worst record shot ever. But am I bovvered?|
We had a family walk to Dancing Ledge planned with our non-birding friends, who had now arrived, so I did my best to put thoughts of Short-toed Eagle out of my head, and prepared to knuckle down to some hard-core Puffin-spotting. Four birds were present and this calmed my mood considerably as all cooed at them appreciatively. At least until some character in a rib flushed the Puffins and all the Guillemots off the cliffs by going in for too close a look.
Just as we got back to the car, the pager wailed a mega-alert for the second time today, which could only mean one thing: Short-toed Eagle re-found. I imagined it would be somewhere in the New Forest by now but no - it was back up the road at Morden Bog. More potty-mouth action ensued. Steve lives near where we were parked so I arranged to meet him at his place, having secured permission to bale out on family and friends - I say permission, well, I certainly asked, but I've been informed since I didn't exactly wait for an answer. I underestimated the distance to Steve's, but ran it anyway, with camera, scope, rucksack etc swinging inelegantly off my back. But this was no time for dignity.
|Puffins at their traditional site off Dancing Ledge|
|Adonis Blue: a classic species of Dorset coastal downland, seen on our coastal walk before things all got a bit crazy, Eagle-wise|
Ian was just down the road in Wareham. Brett was on the way from Weymouth. Jol, Joe and Caroline Mitchell were on the way back from London, somewhere in the New Forest. Paul was legging it from Surrey. They arrived in roughly that order, in varying stages of hyper-ventilation. Brett confessed to some stressful and moderately aggressive driving, Jol had fallen over and sustained a nasty cut, and Paul phoned in a panic from a place called the The Gurkha Restaurant pleading for directions. Fortunately it was The Gurkha in Wareham not the one in Weymouth or that would have been seriously off course. Ian works for Natural England, so as well as seeing the bird he was able to organise some off-road parking, and keep good order on this, his employer's excellent National Nature Reserve (if you go tomorrow, please stick to the paths to protect the ground-nesting birds). Happily, everyone connected: I counted them in, and I counted them out.
An unbelievable day. Unbelievable. So glad we decided to holiday at home this week. Well done Paul for the find - even though it ruins my chances of claiming the Dorset raptor of the year award, it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke. And a big thank you to George for sticking it out on at Morden Bog when myself and others had given up hope.
|Lesser Whitethroat near Langton Matravers - a ringed bird|