Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A broad church indeed

Lest any non-Dorset birders be tempted to visit the county on the strength of the recent ITV series 'Broadchurch', I thought I should correct a few misconceptions the programme may have created, randomly interspersed with some bird photos taken on the Jurassic Coast this weekend.

1. The whole series was completely unrealistic: the sun never shines that much.

Male Whinchat, Barleycrates Lane, Portland, Sunday 21 April. OK, I admit it, the sun does shine now and again.
2. We don't all talk like lorry drivers' sons from the Forest of Dean. Well I do, but then I am a lorry driver's son from the Forest of Dean. But Dorset is a different dialect altogether. It's always been a mystery to me why actors depict anyone from west of Basingstoke in a non-specific Wurzel accent, and then proceed to hop from Norfolk pig farmer to Zummerzet carrot-cruncher without so much as a by your leave. But then I didn't go to RADA, where they are presumably taught that. Good job the sublime David Tennant was spared the indignity by being allowed to be Scottish, though I'm sure he would have carried it off.

Meadow Pipit, Barleycrates Lane, Portland, Sunday 21 April.
3. Nor do we occasionally lapse into clipped Home Counties tones when we forget to stick with our non-specific Wurzel accents, like some members of the cast who shall remain nameless, Sophie out of 'Peep Show'. An increasingly high proportion of us are in-comers from the Home Counties anyway so we talk like that all the time.

An old Cock Linnet - plenty of these in Dorset to make the DFL's* feel at home
(* Down From London)

4. Statistically speaking, you are far more likely to come across one of these on a Dorset beach that the corpse of an 11-year old child:

Something of a fall of these on Portland this weekend. Come on dog-walkers, bag it and bin it.
5. The locals don't make a habit of forming impromptu, pitch-fork waving mobs to conduct witch-hunts, other than for certain kinds of renewable energy development. It's the 21st century, and we believe in the due process of law like everybody else. And besides, everyone knows that ducking the suspected witch in the river is the most scientific way of establishing guilt or innocence.

Don't worry, in the unlikely even of a corpse being dumped on the beach overnight, the local Ravens will clean it up before you've got your swimsuit out of the tumble-dryer. This one was on Portland, Sunday 21 April.
6. Local papers don't go in for the sort of sensationalist journalism depicted in the drama. You could go on a killing spree, and they would probably go with traffic congestion as the front page lead. Unless the killing spree resulted in, or was provoked by, traffic congestion, in which case it might get a mention as a contributory factor.

Redstart, Barleycrates Lane, Sunday 21 April.
7. Hard-nosed Fleet Street reporters don't weep at the funerals of murder victims, like the otherwise convincing moral vacuum played by Vicky McClure. They're far too busy trying to hack into the voicemail accounts of the deceased. Allegedly.

Female Linnet, Portland, Sunday 21 April.
8. The slogan of the Dorset Tourist Board is not 'I hate it here. I hate the sand. I hate the stupid people. I hate the way they work. I hate their bloody smiling faces. I hate the never ending sky' (DI Alec Hardy, Episode 2). Though I'm thinking of getting that printed on mugs and selling them on-line as souvenirs. Leave a comment if you'd consider buying one. It's a sort of market test.

Willow Warbler, Portland, Sunday 21 April.
9. Your trip to the Dorset coast is unlikely to end with an ever-so-slightly anti-climactic ending which leaves you strangely dissatisfied despite thoroughly enjoying everything which went before. Like my visit on Sunday, it's far more likely to end on a high with you jamming in on a rare bird like a Serin. Though hopefully you'll get better pictures than I did. Enjoy your visit.

Serin, West Bexington, Sunday 21 April. A vocal but mobile bird, this was one of two brief views, and the only one which allowed even a bad photo to be taken.

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