1 Oct 2014

1 Oct 14 - Family Photo Tick & Some History

It's been a while since the last Bird Family Photo Tick, but the opportunity came by after the visit to Portland Bill for the putative blythi Lesser Whitethroat. For the last week or two, a Black Guillemot has taken up residence in the Southern end of Portland Harbour. This is an uncommon species in Dorset & it's possible to go two or three years without any records, other than a brief flyby (at best) past Portland Bill. Therefore, it was worth a quick stop to try & get some photos. But I had been warned it wouldn't be close it. Frustratingly, some boat owner decided to row a small boat out to his moored yacht & it decided to quickly drift further out in the harbour. So the photos are barely better than record shots & only made it onto the blog, as it's a Bird Family Photo Tick.
Black Guillemot: Good view of the underwing
Black Guillemot: It is the only UK Auk with a big white panel in the wing
Black Guillemot: At least it's polite & waves goodbye
Black Guillemot: Spot the Guillemot competition. The last photo without the massive cropping (look for the pink buoy in the middle of the shot) 
The Black Guillemot is best viewed from the English Heritage Portland Castle or adjacent to it. The castle was built in the 1540's on the orders of Henry VIII as one of a series of forts to protect the South coast from invasion from the French or Spanish.
Portland Castle: The Black Guillemot is visible from the English Heritage Portland Castle
A few days after DD in June 1944, the Allies towed across the components to make two temporary Mulberry Harbours at Omaha & Arromanches to support the US & UK bridgeheads, respectively. In total, there was 10 miles of floating roadways. The US Mulberry Harbour was severely damaged by a storm & was taken out of service, but the Arromanches Mulberry continued to be used for 8 months (against a designed period of 3 months). The floating bridges were protected by huge concrete breakwaters, known as Phoenix breakwaters. Two Phoenix breakwaters remained in Portland harbour.
Phoenix Breakwaters: Parts of the Mulberry Harbour still remains off the Arromanches coast, whilst a few bits were salvaged & used elsewhere for bridge reconstruction at the end of the Second World War