Sunday, 23 March 2008

Hail and Gale an Easter Saturday Tale

Blimey O'Reilly, it was a bit blustery yesterday and absolutely freezing. Mind you as I write this at 8am Sunday, it's snowing quite heavily in Dorset.

After shopping in Yeovil in the morning, always a treat for a countryphile such as myself, plus a spot of lunch at Castle Gardens in Sherborne (amazingly re-opened 2 days after a fire destroyed 50% of the building), in the afternoon I left Thelma to snooze in the warm conservatory, and himself ventured out onto Bulbarow Hill in the teeth of a gale (with a grey wagtail at a ford on the way). And at 900 feet up it was surely a gale. Struggling to get out of the car my first view was an incoming hail shower... which was nice!!

Apart from a woman walking dogs, presumably because she had to, I seemed to be the only one stupid enough to be up there. It was glorious, as I'm addicted to severe weather. I always become depressed in the summer when it's hot and humid as just don't like hot weather. I've always been odd. Give me a cold winter's day, a gale and some wildlife, and I'm in heaven. I have to admit though, this was quite challenging, some gusts really took your breath away and twice I nearly took a tumble. The only way to use the binoculars was to wrap myself around a fencepost to stop them shaking too much. But worth it.

Huge numbers of Corvids up there, particularly Rooks and Carrion Crows. Spent a bit of time watching Rooks pestering a Buzzard which was flying a bit too close. Amazing how agile Buzzards can be when being mobbed. That was the second Buzzard being mobbed, one at Clifton Maybank near Yeovil earlier. Very few passerines about, but hunkered in the lee of a hedge Red-Legged Partridge and pheasants, numerous rabbits. Sadly though no Brown Hares - unlike me they had the sense to lie low and keep out of the wind.

However even for me, after an hour I had had enough of being buffeted, so drove to Hammoon. 600 feet lower, the weather could not have been any different. Was it the same day? Still a wind, but I could stand up. Scanning the Stour River, 2 Little Egrets were faffing about by the river.

Also today's quiz - Spot the Duck in the water meadow. Click to enlarge.

In the opposite direction to the Little Egrets, Hambleton Hill. I keep meaning to go up there, not today though.

Finally as it was heading towards sunset, popped to Fiddleford Manor. Absolutely stunning spot with the Mill, a weir and unspoilt scenery. I was watching a "charm" of Goldfinch and some Long Tailed Tit in a tree when a "seep seep" attracted my attention. And indeed, 2 Kingfishers. I watched them flying to and from a branch as I stood on the sluice gates here. Not far from this spot I also found their nest hole. In the evening light, the male particularly turned almost Azure-Purple, glorious. By the way incase you're wondering, females have an oranger lower bill, though not easy to see at times.

And last but by no means least, sunsets. Top was a wonderful cloud formation as a I left Fiddleford, and below it, sun through Common Plantation near Stalbridge, which holds a sizeable rookery, presumably as less than a mile away where most of the rooks in the garden come from. Also a good spot for Roe Deer.


  1. If you're addicted to severe weather you should be living here, lol. Even in summer the winds can be so high that the tall spruce trees swirl around in a mad dance. The pictures are just beautiful.

  2. Ahhahh that's fresh in my book... some of my very best birding has been in bad weather, birds tend to be flying about more rather than perched and enjoying the warmth. Glad you liked the pictures

  3. Plenty of severe weather here too! Haven't had a lot of time for posting stuff on my blog or anyone else's recently - busy with work and was over in Cornwall too.

    Mr Brambling still visiting the garden as well as a Siskin now.. the first time for one of those too... v. exciting!

  4. Hi Miranda, nice to hear from you again and that you are keeping busy, and that the Messers Brambling Siskin are around. It's been another good year for the later. They are such wonderful birds and in recent years have become more and more a garden visitor. With any luck today we will be going to the Larmer Tree Garden in Wiltshire. Depends on the weather, yesterday like France by the sound of it was a bit wintery. Must be Easter, and tough for the gardens which are opening to the public, only to see wind and hail batter everything.