Tuesday 1 November 2016

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce

Half-term already seems a long time ago, and in case recent posts have given the impression that I spent none of the school holidays with my beloved children, be assured, dear reader, that this was not the case. Despite thrashing the patch and hustling up and down to Portland at every opportunity, I managed to sleep in the same house as them every night, and on Thursday the whole clan even made it to Abbotsbury for a 'Family Fright Night' at the Sub-tropical Gardens. I can't say that queueing for 30 minutes for a 30 second ghost train ride was the highlight of my week, but then I did drive for 12 hours to get a 12 minute view of a Dunnock a few weekends back, so I am perhaps not the best judge of what a good time looks like. Seeing the gardens lit up at night though was, by common consent, pretty cool.
Black Redstart on Portland
A confiding bird in the Bill car park
The following day saw us continuing the supernatural theme, this time on a proper train, heading to London for a self-guided Harry Potter themed walking tour. This took in the Millennium Bridge, Leadenhall Market, Old Scotland Yard, Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and various other sights, all of which the serious Potterarati would recognise from one or other of the juvenile occultist movie franchise.
Grey Plover, Ferrybridge
A lone and flighty individual
The tour reached its crescendo at Kings Cross station, where, in an uncharacteristic break from their corporate missions of imposing misery on the travelling public, and expecting them to pay inflation-busting fare increases for the privilege, the various enterprises formerly knows as British Rail have thoughtfully created a fake Platform 9¾ to keep visiting fans of the bespectacled YTS-warlock out of the way of busy commuters.
A stunning bird in summer plumage but still attractive in winter
The black armpit is diagnostic
Even more thoughtfully they have opened a Platform retail emporium, which, by some sorcery I have yet to fathom, relieved us of several higher denomination banknotes in exchange for a couple of plastic wands and some confectionery. Bargain. Mind you, I speak as someone who spent more than that in September flying to the Isles of Scilly to see a Swallow, so I am perhaps not the best judge of what represents good value for money. Besides, the children are delighted with their wands, especially the little one, whose new toy is sufficiently high tech that it actually changes the channels on the TV, much to his amusement, and to everyone else's annoyance. The wand of the elder son (which I guess I should call 'the elder wand' as an in-joke for the Potter fans?) is more substantially made but, disappointingly given the product, performs no such magic. 
Little Egret, Ferrybridge
A common bird now in Dorset but still a pleasure to see and photograph
After a brief return to an altogether more sensible lifestyle choice of rising in the small hours of Saturday morning for a day trip to the Isles of Scilly to see nothing in particular (more on that in a later post), Sunday saw me back on the touchline cheering on Wareham Rangers U-14s and son George to their first point of the season in a thrilling 1-1 draw with Merley Common Falcons. So, a slightly disappointing half-term week on the birding front by the end of it, but a very rewarding one from a family perspective. And that, I am reliably informed by the sort of people you won't find on Bubo, is all that should matter.
Portland sunrise
Sunrise at the Bill
A bit of black magic to end with, in keeping with the theme of the post

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