Sunday 24 March 2013

Coming, ready or not

Hundreds of migrant birds seemed to decide yesterday that enough was enough, and, whether the weather in Britain was ready or not, they were coming anyway. After yet another week marred by illness, today I resolved to join them.
Wheatear: one of over 50 at Portland Bill today
On Saturday, Dorset's migration hotspots of Portland Bill, Hengistbury Head and, er, the drain behind PC World in Poole, were apparently buzzing with Chiffchaffs and Wheatears. Star of the show though was a White-spotted Bluethroat at Portland Bill, so I headed there first thing this morning.
This Black Redstart showed while the Bluethroat didn't
Portland this morning was as it should be: heaving with Wheatears. But after couple of hours standing around by the Obs quarry, where the Bluethroat had been the previous night, these and a Black Redstart were about all I had seen. A walk to the Top Fields produced a few Ring Ouzel and another came in off the sea as I headed back down to the Bill.
Goldcrest at the Bill
As I reached the car and was thinking of heading off, the pager reported that the Bluethroat was back, and after an undignified trot on my part and a short wait, it revealed itself in the quarry. It stayed hunkered down as a bloke with a strimmer, oblivious to the telescopes and lenses trained on him, stripped the vegetation from just above its head. Almost a red-spotted Bluethroat.
Male White-spotted Bluethroat
The strimming man eventually got camera shy and packed up, allowing the Bluethroat to return to feed on the path in full view. It was a tonic to be back out with my lens freshly back from the menders. Unfortunately, it turned out that the lens was fine, and it was the camera shutter button that was faulty all along. A shutter release cable circumvented the problem in the short-term, and an impulse purchase of a new Canon 7D online last night will do so in the medium-term.
The Bluethroat flashed its rufous tail sides aggressively at a Robin at one point
I made the mistake of discussing this purchase with several photographers present today, who told me what a crap camera it was, or that I'd paid too much, you know, just the stuff you want to hear when you've just sold a child to purchase consumer electronics...
Showing the leg ring fitted at the Bill yesterday
This was a Dorset tick for me and quite a few others present by the sound of it, and I headed home full of the joys of spring. Not even dipping on a Kentish Plover at Ferrybridge on the way back could wipe the smile off.

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