Tuesday, 15 March 2016

OK, nature, you convinced me...

...spring is here. Although it's been colder this past week than most of the winter, the evidence has been mounting. So I headed out on a bright Sunday morning, before parental duty took me to Gillingham for Wareham Rangers' Under 13s final game of the season, determined to see my first Brimstone, or Sand Martin, or Wheatear of the year - three species which I normally have to see to be convinced. In the end I saw none of them, but the direction of travel with the changing season was still evident: breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebes were in Studland Bay, Med Gulls were cooing saucily overhead and Lesser Celandines were flowering on the verges.
Black-necked Grebe, Studland Bay
After an enjoyable hour on the beach I concluded that the Grebes weren't going to come in any closer so I headed back in the hope of collecting the family and heading off to the footie. This involved much chivvying and ferrying of stuff back and forth to load the car, but, just as we appeared ready to go, somewhere between the house and the car I managed to lose the ignition key. The spare had also gone AWOL, and in the process of searching for it we had left the gate open. At this point Director Fury, the bolder of two guinea pigs (Agent Coulson being the more cautious one) made a bid for freedom and pelted into the perilous world beyond the garden.
Mediterranean Gull, Studland Bay

Having persuaded a distraught wife and children that this was not a big enough crisis to justify a 999 call, recovered the rodent and located the spare key, we finally headed off. Wareham to Gillingham is about the longest journey we have to make in the Dorset Youth League, and after diverting for road closures, and being taken several miles off course by a dodgy satnav, we ended up missing the first 20 minutes of the match. Luckily, they still had enough players to kick-off, but despite our tardy super-sub of a son coming on at half-time, the boys still lost. We retraced our steps with some insight into how Newcastle fans must feel on the way back from defeat at Southampton. A brief stop in Blandford on the way found the Otters not at home, but a showy Treecreeper, and the discovery of the lost car key inside a child's shoe in the boot (obviously!) made up for that.
Treecreeper, Blandford Forum
Better still, with the Under-13s football season now over, we will at least get our weekends back, and the chance to enjoy the rest of the spring unencumbered by the emotional roller-coaster of sporting drama. For a season's worth of match reports, many penned by yours truly, see here; for a season's worth of what I hope will be lots of lovely wildlife photos, do come back to these pages soon.
Treecpreeper, Blandford Forum

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