Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Lemon and Lyme

Before the Bank Holiday weekend was so rudely interrupted by that Prince of the LBJs, the Red-throated Pipit, I was enjoying some quality time with the family at various events around Dorset, such as the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. The place was heaving with it on Sunday so I dropped the gang off near the sea front and headed back out of town in search of parking.

A dash of Lemon: Wood Warbler, Cogden (#168)

And a slice of Lyme: Dipper, Lyme Regis (#169)
A space was located conveniently close to a stretch of the River Lym, along whose length I would now have to walk to get back to the town centre, and where I knew there would be a good chance of catching up with Dipper, a rare breeding bird in Dorset. After a bit of fruitless searching, eventually a piercing call in the distance carried sufficiently far over the sound of running water to get me in the right area and an obliging bird posed for photos whilst filling its beak with morsels harvested from the river bed.
Species new to science: Glass-headed Dipper
Brilliant camouflage given away by the white eyelid.
Then it was into the throng of the Festival, where I was impressed by the diversity of the factions which inhabit the niche markets of the earth sciences. The Geological Society exhibited just across from the Geologist's Association, with more than a frisson of competitiveness, I felt. The Paleontological Society rubbed shoulders, not altogether cordially, one secretly hoped, with the Paleontological Association. But both were perhaps united in their hatred of the common enemy: the Micropaleontological Association. Splitters! Actually, much to my disappointment they all seemed to be getting along just fine and it was a great event for getting folks, particularly younger folks, excited about the marvels of rocks, fossils and our very own World Heritage Site.
Someone's child plays recklessly among the boulders while their parents are doing goodness knows what...
...probably photographing the local Rock Pipits or something.
Duty thus fulfilled, and at the price of the promise of a pub meal later at the Smugglers Inn, near where Dorset's legendary Siberian Rubythroat was found, I was allowed what has become known as a 'Daddy stop' on the way home to look for a Wood Warbler at Cogden. The bird had been found singing that morning by Mike Morse, but the copse was silent on my arrival. Being an ace birder - OK, OK being an average birder on a lucky streak - I was able to locate it in the low canopy after a short search and get a few record shots, the lemon yellow face and white underparts glowing despite the fading light.
Claire often asks how I can justify the cost of twitching birds far from home when I am normally so careful with our finances. I point out that it's cheaper than twitching birds close to home if the rest of the family is with me, as they usually extort the promise of an expensive meal on the way home as compensation. Given their tolerance of several recent excursions of late, however, I can't really blame them. And it saves on washing up.

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