Friday 18 January 2019

Around the world

The head of the household was away recently leaving her offspring and I to make our way around the culinary world without the usual level of dietary guidance to constrain our choices. So Monday was Italian night (BBQ chicken pizza), Tuesday the turn of Mexico (Chilli con Carne), Wednesday a 'home' fixture in England (steak pie and three veg), while Thursday saw us indulge a taste of China (sweet and sour chicken). And lest anyone accuse me of undue sloth, I should point out that only one of these was procured in take-away form. When herself, a vegetarian, returned from a five day trip to New York with the Book Club (!) at the end of the week, we had to confess that Veganuary had not been going so well.
Ring-necked Duck, Radipole Lake
All this globe-trotting reminded me of a few visitors from afar which could be found in Dorset during the first few days of 2019. On New Year's Day I headed down to Weymouth with Steve Smith to see if one of them, a Ring-necked Duck from the Americas, was still present. I first saw this bird before Christmas when it was in a drab brown first winter plumage, but by the turn of the year it had smartened up somewhat and was starting to look more like an adult drake should. We located it at the end of the Radipole Lake nature reserve and enjoyed close views in the sunshine.
Bearded Tit, Radipole Lake
The other notable wanderer was a juvenile White-fronted Goose which took up with a flock of Greylags before Christmas and which had been seen periodically around my local patch at Swineham and Bestwall. Apart from Greylags, the other grey geese - White-fronted, Pink-footed and Bean - are all quite hard to catch up with in Dorset. Judging by the colouration of our wintering White-front, it will have come from the general direction of Russia, being of the sub-species albifrons. I had seen this bird distantly in flight with Greylags on a couple of occasions, identifiable by its small size compared to the rest of the flock, and eventually caught up with it on the deck at reasonably close range on nearby Bestwall.
White-fronted Goose, Bestwall

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