27 Jul 2022

27 Jul 22 - Head & Shoulders

After the success of a private boat trip up the Wareham Channel & the Frome last week, there was an offer of joining another trip this evening. Despite a busy day of volunteering on Brownsea, there is just about enough time to get off Brownsea, make a cuppa of tea & a very quick snack & get back out of the house in time to get to Poole Quay for an 18:00 departure. Like last week, I made the boat with not much more than five minutes to spare.

It was worth it, when one of the other friends on the boat spotted one of the Wareham Channel White-tailed Sea-eagles perched up in a bush at the water's edge. The skipper stopped the boat & for ten minutes it sat there, while the cameras were clicking & we were about sixty metres away. It was quite unconcerned about our presence, in the same way that birds & mammals are often unfazed by people close up in cars. Even though we were walking around in full view on the boat, the White-tailed Sea-eagle seemed to consider us as a boat, rather than a group of people walking close to it. The nice light was a bonus. Finally, it got bored of watching us & disappeared. I will do a longer Blog Post soon.
White-tailed Sea-eagle
The Birds of Poole Harbour team will be running a lot of their Bird Boats in Aug & early Sep into the Wareham Channel in the expectation of multiple Osprey sightings & the hope of other sightings including White-tailed Sea-eagles. Obviously, the birds seen & the views are always going to be a matter of luck of the day, but hopefully they will get some good sightings on those boats. A full list of the boat trips they will be running & how to book a trip is on their website.

19 Jul 2022

19 Jul 22 - Blast From The Past: 12 Years On

In the last few days, Gavin Haig has caught three Orache Moths in West Dorset. This prompted me to write this Blog Post. Back in late Spring to Autumn 2010, I ran my Moth trap most nights. This put a real strain on the Birding as I was having to get up pre-dawn to stop the local Robins, Great Tits & House Sparrows enjoying a Moth breakfast from all the Moths that were sitting on my patio etc. It didn't help that I was also commuting to Portsmouth four days a week and working at home on the Friday. With these early starts I was generally in bed well before it was dark. But I ended up catching some good local Moths with the best being this gorgeous Orache Moth, which was about the tenth Dorset record at the time.
Orache Moth: A good combination of rare, easy to identify & very pretty

15 Jul 2022

15 Jul 22 - Some Clearer Air On The Jurassic Coast

Three nights ago there was a superb sunset along the Jurassic coast from St Aldhelms.
Jurassic Sunset from St Aldhelms (12 Jul 22)
I popped out again for the evening sunset after another long session earlier in the day of trying to return the garden to looking like a garden, rather than the neglected grassland that the flower beds had become. The garden Birds seem to be enjoying being able to get into the more open garden.
Robin: An IPhone photo of one of my adult Robins which was looking for food & distracting me from gardening. There were also two independent juvenile Robins enjoying the bonus food
After several hot hours in the garden, it was good to get a decent walk in at dusk. There has been some fresher air since the first photo was taken & a lot of the dust in the atmosphere must have been blown away. The view was a lot clearer & the sunset lacked most of the red skies from earlier in the week.
Jurassic Sunset from St Aldhelms coastpath
Jurassic Sunset from the St Aldhelms coastpath
One of the best decisions I ever made was twenty-six years ago when I decided that I was going to stop renting in Southampton & start buying my own house in the stunning Isle of Purbeck. All those years of having to commute back to Hampshire for work were worth it.

13 Jul 2022

13 Jul 22 - The Hassles Of Moving Home

Back onto Brownsea for my regular Wednesday volunteering on the DWT Brownsea reserve. This week I was first up on the entrance desk meeting & greeting visitors. After about thirty minutes, two ladies arrived & asked about where to see a Red Squirrel as that was what they really wanted to see. I didn't even have time to start answering when I saw a pale flash in the grass. Over recent weeks, I've picked up Red Squirrels best at a distance by an unexpected pale movement. Asking the ladies to give me a minute, I moved a couple of metres & confirmed I had the pale movement was a Red Squirrel's tail. After pointing out the directions to the two ladies, I moved again to get a clearer view. There was something odd about this Red Squirrel as it had something in its mouth.
Red Squirrel: There was something interesting in the Squirrel's mouth
Red Squirrel: As suspected from my first sighting, the interesting object was a third-sized baby Squirrel & the parent was moving it between dreys
Red Squirrel: Having moved the baby, the Red Squirrel came back & posed for us on the entrance bridge. It's possible to see a nipple in this photo, so it's a female
Red Squirrel: More posing
Red Squirrel: The posing has increased to mimic the DWT sign
Finally, the Red Squirrel crossed the track & lay down on one of the branches on a nearby tree. I had seen a Red Squirrel do this a couple of weeks earlier on the same branch & assume it was the same female. On that occasion, the Red Squirrel was quite happy to pose for about fifteen visitors & allowed prolonged views.

While today's Red Squirrel was posing for the next couple of visitors, I saw a group of twenty-five to thirty small children, teachers & teaching assistants from Talbot School coming along the boardwalk. One of the teachers said they were going to stay on the NT side of the island, but they really wanted to see a Red Squirrel. I couldn't say no to that request, but explained they would need to be quiet. Fortunately, the Red Squirrel went along with this & soon there was a class of happy small and quiet children watching her. It's great to be able to show the next generation something exciting. It was nice how many of the children said "Thank you" on their way off the reserve.
It was great to see the next generation enjoying their first Red Squirrel sighting

12 Jul 2022

12 Jul 22 - Jurassic Sunset

There was a superb sunset at the Jurassic coast from St Aldhelms.
Jurassic Sunset from St Aldhelms

10 Jul 2022

10 Jul 22 - Meeting The New Neighbours

I'm keeping with the themes of the last two Blog Posts of low-angle photography & the garden. It's always good to meet the new neighbours as I catch up with the long overdue removal of weeds from my gardens. This is one of five Robins that have been checking out the area I've been gardening for some bonus food in the last few days. The others are a couple of adults, one of which is tailless, a second similar-aged juvenile Robin and a juvenile Robin from an earlier brood, that is going through a body moult & is developing a red breast. While this juvenile Robin tolerated the adults, it was quick to drive off the other juveniles.
Robin: Juvenile. It became more confident with me today & approached to within about six inches of the IPhone
Robin: Juvenile
Robin: Juvenile

8 Jul 2022

8 Jul 22 - A Nymph Speckled Bush Cricket

I've taken advantage of the nice weather & relatively quiet Birding period to catch up with the long overdue removal of weeds from my gardens. There are some bonuses of this including my first garden Speckled Bush Cricket for four years. I suspect they occur more regular in the garden, but there is plenty of vegetation for them to hide in.
Speckled Bush Cricket: Nymph
Speckled Bush Cricket: Nymph
Speckled Bush Cricket: Nymph

6 Jul 2022

6 Jul 22 - Young Brownsea Friends

Wednesday is my regular volunteering day on the DWT Brownsea reserve. One of the key activities for the volunteers is to man the entrance desk to the reserve, where the volunteers get to meet & greet the visitors.

Over the last three weeks, there has been a female Mallard in this area where the DWT reserve meets the National Trust part of the island. This female has been mum to four ducklings which have grown in size, confidence & now character. Today, it looks like something has happened to one of the four ducklings, but the other three have been doing well. When they came into view this afternoon, the three ducklings were chasing after some of the visitors with mum following on behind along the main NT track. They then came to see us on the entrance desk.
Mallard: Fearless & inquisitive Ducklings
It was time to get the mobile out & get some photos from ground level. I don't often get to photograph Birds from this angle, but I always enjoy the results when I get the chance.
Mallard: Duckling
Birds don't always have to be rare, to be fun to see.

3 Jul 2022

3 Jul 22 - My Hummingbird Hawk Moth Is Back Again

My most recent Hummingbird Hawk Moth has reappeared on the Red Valerian in my front garden. It is only about one metre from my living room window.

All I had to do was open the window & point the camera out of it. This time, I turned up the ISO settings to allow a faster shutter speed, albeit that makes it a grainier photo. But it is very hard to try to freeze the wings of a flying Hummingbird Hawk Moth.
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth