Tuesday 3 January 2017

Suffering for your art

The first day of 2017, normally a red letter day in the birding calendar, was a bit of a washout with heavy rain causing me to abort a planned afternoon visit to Swineham. Well it's the 'post-truth' era so much easier to conclude it would be birdless from the comfort of the armchair than to actually go there and prove it. So here are a few pictures from before and after that from two of Dorset's urban birding hotspots - Lyme Regis, which I visited to see my godsons last Friday, and the built up north shore of Poole Harbour, around which I strolled with the family yesterday. The sun shone mightily at both, and photographs were the inevitable result.
Purple Sandpipers often roost on The Cobb at Lyme Regis but they are either distant there or right underneath you making photography difficult - but it was low tide so I caught up with a flock on a rocky shelf at the beach 
The snag was they were feeding on a ledge surrounded by six inches of water and I was only wearing my 'about-town' shoes. So off they came enabling me to wade through the freezing water, lacerating my feet on the barnacled rocks. Well you have to suffer for your art...
Not often you get to see the beautiful purple iridescence on a Purple Sandpiper - but it can be seen on this one (click to enlarge)
A careful approach allowed me to get pretty close
A pair of Dipper were in the Mill stream which runs through the heart of town
A curtsying courtship display with a flash of the white eyelid
One of very few locations in Dorset where Dipper can be seen

Grey Wagtail also frequent the same stream

A misty Golden Cap from Lyme Regis beach
Mediterranean Gulls were also on the beach at Lyme Regis
No longer a rare sight on the Dorset coast
Ethereal sunset looking west from Chideock - we could see the reflection but not the sun itself
Black-tailed Godwits were present in large numbers at Upton Country Park yesterday - the first sunny day of 2017
Also a large Dunlin flock out in Holes Bay
Mixed flock of Dunlin and Blackwits against the backdrop of urban Poole
A good selection of wintering duck were in the bay including this smart drake Pintail
Blue Tit in the woodland at Upton CP
Finally from Upton a backlit male Stonechat
Earlier in the day saw me on the groynes at Sandbanks where a patient approach allowed me to get close to another favourite wader: Sanderling
Sanderling at Sandbanks
The roosting birds tolerated my careful approach and a less careful approach from a couple of dogs, but ultimately a jetski put them to flight - unfortunately an occupational hazard for the Sandbanks Sanderlings

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