It's been a pretty grim week what with the weather, the end of the Christmas holidays, pet-related trauma and the dark mornings etc. So it was nice to have some good news this weekend: not just it being the weekend, but the acquisition of two new guinea pigs, Coulson and Fury, to replace the one which went to the great hutch in the sky earlier in the week. Not that he can ever be replaced, of course.
The new pets are named after characters in the TV series currently enjoying most favoured status in the Moore household: Marvel Agents of SHIELD. Fury, played by Samuel L Jackson in the TV series, is Director of SHIELD and mediates between the US Government and the random selection of superheroes who feature in the series. Coulson is his right hand man, an ice-cool spook whose 'powers', according to the Marvel encyclopedia which one of my sons had for Christmas, include 'excellent administrative abilities'. I have been trying to find a way to make my kids think that my job at the council could be cool, and this is as close as I've come.
Anyway, it was not just those things that were looking up this weekend: several thousand waders at Middlebere were too, keeping a watchful eye on the skies for hunting raptors. While Coulson and Fury were being procured from Yeovil yesterday, and groomed this morning, I was free to spend a couple of hours each day at Middlebere looking for them. There were plenty around in yesterday's low light - best of all Hen Harrier, but also Marsh Harrier and Merlin. In addition there was a Spoonbill, 500+ Avocet, a similar number of Black-tailed Godwit, 300+ Lapwing, and too many Dunlin to count. Not so many raptors this morning in perfect sunshine unfortunately but Merlin and Marsh Harrier put in another appearance.
|Hen Harrier, Middlebere - a female seen here regularly this winter was ringed at Langholm Moor in Scotland.|
|Hen Harrier, Middlebere - species #34 on my photo year list|
|Marsh Harrier - a male (#35)|
|Marsh Harrier - female|
|A Merlin scattered the waders and pursued a Dunlin flock briefly but unsuccessfully (#36)|
|A female Bullfinch fed in front of the hide|
|Common Teal were present in good numbers (#37)|
|Great Black-backed Gull (#38)|
|Yellow-legged Gull is reliable at Middlebere|
|Two were present and their short flights would often disturb the roosting waders|
|Wheeling flocks of Dunlin were disturbed by passing raptors (#39)|
|Several hundred Avocet were present over high tide (#40)|
|Over 300 Lapwing were in the creek (#41)|
|Just time after the boy's football today (a 5-1 away win at Puddletown, Moore Jnr scoring with a header from a Joe Mitchell corner) to twitch a Bewick's Swan near Tincleton -it was nearly dark by the time we found it (#42)|
|Fury and Coulson: the Avengers Assemble|