Tuesday 27 January 2015

Sick, and tired

A bit poorly this weekend so no additions to the photo year list to report on account of spending the best part of 48 hours asleep or sneezing. Just about summoned up the energy to update my neglected website, the first time I have managed that in over a year. It's now looking a bit old hat design wise but I lack the time, technological know-how and courage to turn it off and create something better at the moment. As a result, it has developed haphazardly over the years like a badly extended house, with no particular plan or design. I know, I'm really selling it aren't I. It's also snowballed in size from a modest start to now getting on for 3,000 photos, including over 400 species of bird photographed in Britain, not all of them terribly well, all the British breeding butterflies and a variety of other critters. Check it out, anyway, just so I'm not the only one reminded of the times when I used to go outside and take pictures of things.
A bird: long time, no see

Sunday 18 January 2015

Supermarket sweep

OK, having lured you in with a vaguely interesting shot of a sweeping Spoonbill and a supermarket trolley (where else but Holes Bay?), it's confession time. The photo year list has got off to a bit of a slow start, see, so it's time to put a spurt on. As a result, after a couple of glam pics of Spooners I'm afraid it's lots photos of garden, farmyard and duckpond birds to follow, plus a few from the largely birdless swamps of Swineham yesterday and the avian paradise of Weymouth and Portland today. On the upside, there's very little in the way of narrative to string it all together. I know, I spoil you.
One of two present - presumably the same two young birds present over Christmas
This bird was unperturbed by the presence of pedestrians, joggers, dogs and one naughty little boy chucking great lumps of concrete into the drain nearby. Thanks, son.
Right, now for some ducks. I thought Swineham would be a good bet for some easy photo ticks from this family but there was a fair bit of disturbance going on. Over the course of the weekend though, I've added:
Mallard #43: before heading to Swineham yesterday, I knew the quay on the Frome in Wareham would produce one
Gadwall #44: nice patterns on the water for this one at Swineham
Pintail #45: king of the drakes in the fading light of Holes Bay
Pochard #46: a shy female at Swineham
Tufted Duck #47: at Radipole Lake where we lunched today en route to...

...Portland Harbour, where a female Eider (#48) was hanging out near to...

...a Red-breasted Merganser #49, my second sawbill of the year.
From Portland Harbour it was up the hill to The Grove, to see if the long-staying Hooded Crow was still around. I needn't have panicked and run around the pig farm back in the summer to get this on my Dorset list when it first turned up. It was still there, with a collection of other corvids, for whom the smell of swill was clearly irresistible:
Hooded Crow (#50) at The Grove
The Hoodie was with a large flock of the closely related Carrion Crow (#51)
A few Magpie (#52) tagged along
...as did several Jackdaw (#53) - this one photographed yesterday in Wareham.
Some trashy waterbirds were easy enough to add to the photo list, as were the low hanging fruit of the pigeon family:
The ubiquitous Canada Goose (#54), part of a large flock at Upton Country Park
Mute Swan (#55) on the River Frome at Wareham
Collared Dove (#56), Wareham
Feral Pigeon (#57), Wareham
Wood Pigeon (#58), Wareham
With all those pigeons around, a Peregrine (#59) was sure to follow: this one over the Grove on Sunday.
And finally, a random selection of passerines which were out enjoying the weekend sunshine. And yes, I am going to post one of every species photographed this year, and, yes, I probably will regret it, and, no, I'm sorry, I'm not going to change my mind, so don't try and talk me out of it. Transparency is key to the integrity of the list, even though it's pointless and no-one but me cares:
Blackbird (female) #60, Wareham
Chaffinch (male) #61, Wareham
Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) #62, Wareham
House Sparrow (male) #63, Wareham
Long-tailed Tit #64, Swineham
Mistle Thrush #65, Wareham
Nuthatch #66, Swineham
Song Thrush #67, Wareham
Robin #68, Wareham
Reed Bunting #69, Swineham
Starling (male) #70 over the garden in Wareham
Wren #71, Swineham
A photogenic female Stonechat #72 at The Grove, Portland

Sunday 11 January 2015

Things are looking up

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
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
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