Thursday, 16 October 2008

Owls tomorrow and that's yer lot for 3 weeks

Just a brief snippet of stuff today.

Firstly, via the blog I thought it may be worth publicising this Afternoon Play, Friday 17th October on Radio 4, The Owls. Why am I advertising the afternoon play? well because it has been produced from the BBC's Natural History Unit.

A fictional story written and narrated by Paul Evans and based on an island legend about a brother and sister who were bound by a wish sworn on a barn owl feather, which in turn became a curse that proved fatal. Recorded on location in Scotland.

Go on, have a listen, I'd be interested in any feedback.

And then again, I'll not be here to read feedback for three weeks. Yes, the Boy Border is finally off to have his Summer Hols. Those of you of sharp mind and quick wit, will notice that summer has passed and we're heading into Winter. Let that not deter me venturing off with my bucket and spade into the gathering darkness.

And so until November 10th (unless I get access to the Internet while away), I shall leave you with this quality photo of Bristol's Eagle Owl, now known as Eddie.

I know it's amazing isn't it, it's all my own work!!!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Phalarope the Grey

Blimey 2 posting in a single weekend, what has come over me? But this Sundays effort is a special one. Hearing earlier in the week that a Grey (or Red in some guides) Phalarope (139 for the year) was having a bit of a subjoin at Cheddar Reservoir, I popped down there early this morning to see if it was still entertaining the crowds from the shire.

Early morning mist didn't bode well for seeing this small wader, but it was picturesque enough as the sun tried to break through the mist. Anyhow I was faffing about with my digi-kit, trying to photograph some Black Headed Gulls, when this chap arrived at my left, mug of tea in hand and said,

"If you're looking for that rare bird, it's just outside the Yacht Club-House next to that boat. There are two chaps down there photographing it"

And so it was and so they were - blooming huge photo lenses, so I tried to hide my Heath Robinson digi-kit behind my rucksack and just did the best I could. And what a cracking little bird, didn't seem at all bothered by the small crowd watching it with more mugs of tea from the club house, not even when a dog splashed through. Or where they watching us twitchers thinking, what are they upto? Shut up BR, just let the photos do the talking (click to enlarge)

This is my digi-kit. slightly mad to set up but it'll do for lill' ole me. Follow the telescope to the waters edge and that pale bird is the Phalarope.

And what I saw through the lens.

this one refuses to rotate!!!

I like these two photos, as they show how small this Wader is against pied wagtails

But lets not forget in all the excitement, Cheddar is a nationally important overwintering site for Coot, 3-4,000 regularly come here. So to end this blog, birding and looking after wildlife is not just about the rare things, but also the common place....

........I wonder how many other birders who have come to Cheddar just to see the Grey Phalarope, even noticed the Coots?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Folly for Wildlife

Before I mention on the blog this morning's visit to Folly Farm, more wildlife folly. Below suspect 1, Collard Dove. Biggish bird, on a small bird feeder. The antics of the three Collard Doves on this feeder, yes dear reader there have been 3 doves on at one sitting....! has to be seen to be believed. Collard Doves are the Paris Hilton of the wildlife world in my view, nice to look at but lacking a certain mental ability. I'll keep quiet for their sake that yesterday I spied a Sparrowhawk over our gardens!

And so to this morning. I was kindly asked to attend the Avon Wildlife Trust's Folly Farm Media Group today. So at 11am I presented myself all spick and span as the new boy on the block, hair slicked back, shoes polished, pencil sharpened, that sort of thing. And what a wonderful place Folly Farm is. Click here for the website.

Without going into too much detail as to why we were there, we were basically there to brainstorm the notion "how do we promote this facility", using the group members wildlife media backgrounds and contacts; the fact of the matter is I've known about this place for years, had never visited, and so the very fact I'd never visited confirmed in my mind that, it needs promoting more. As we said, if the converted are unaware of it's existence, then the unconverted will be completely oblivious.

So in a small way, I'm promoting it on my blog. Not that anyone reads this rambling stuff. But keep an eye out in the future as I have offered to go there for a few days soon and look at "interpretation". Just get a feel of the place, why people come to visit, be there as a point of contact when they arrive and to advise. I'll look forward to that and will report back on the blog if I survive.

After our tour of the facilities with the Centre Manager we had a couple of hours "blue sky thinking" over coffee and cakes. Once the session ended I had decided to have a wander myself up to the view point, known as Roundhill, which not only looks over the 250 acre nature reserve, but out across the Chew Valley. This whole area was once Somerset, but in the 1970's became Avon and then in the 1990's became North Somerset. All very odd. But as we all said in the session it is less than 10 miles from the centre of Bristol and one could be in the middle of rural Wessex.

The walk up to Roundhill is a bit of a climb, through open woodland and then into this glorious dappled shade path, helped today by the fabulous weather.

Eventually the path heads off towards open fields and a viewpoint. Just through a stile was this lovely view across rolling countryside.

But then at the top of the hill, the view. Not quite in the same league as I've been used to over recent years in Dorset, but I have to say on a day like this it was just lovely to look out over Chew Valley Lake. I had to remind myself this wasn't summer, but mid October. Just me, some sheep and a warm breeze. Perfect autumn weather.

And made up for me not being at the Alwinton Show in Northumberland today. As I write this blog at 6pm, I can imagine the show field there emptying and the autumn sun setting over the hills. I may be in Wessex, but the heart is always up't in the Coquet Valley.

And now, a quick wash and polish before the pub. Champion pet.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Bristol's wildlife

Just a snippet blog today, as there is an article in today's Guardian by Stephen Moss about a resident Eagle Owl in Bristol.
We were informed of this a week or so, and this lunchtime I'm planning to have a shufty at the little fellah, before he eats any small animals or children. Didn't mention this before as trying to keep the location quiet, but it's now on the public domain. Actually this posting makes me think, Bristol is a fab City for wildlife, maybe a topic for a future posting, bubbling away in embryonic form.

Funnily enough bumped into Stephen at lunchtime, and he mentioned a Grey Phalarope is on Cheddar Reservoir, so that's this weekends birding sorted then. As a postscript, I have now seen the puffball on the ledge, Top bird !! And many thanks for Mr C for taking me to see it.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Tern around Lyme

This blogging malarkey is a funny old business. I've just finished decorating the bedroom in preparation for an M&S bed and Tempura mattress to be delivered next week. So there was me at 1pm today heading for Dunelm shopping emporium in Weston super Mud to look at bed-linen and rugs. I'd got half way there when a feeling of nausea, depression and fatigue took over me, I just couldn't face it, shopping on a Sunday, yeuck. So turning the car around, a sudden change of plan and by 2.30 I was here..........

........ go on guess where? No, no idea?..... well have a look at this, the clue is in the famous Cliff, the bird and the sea............

Yep my favourite haunt, Lyme Regis. And today because of the dreadful weather forecast of rain and pestilence, it was empty, and there wasn't any rain either. So as I was at the seaside, what did Border do next? A £1.80 double scoop Purbeck ice-cream (scoop each of mint choc chip and Dorset honey - lush!)

So I sat on the Cobb, with my gelato and watched the birds. Bit of an offshore wind blowing today so the gulls were having a frolic and play about in the sky. Always a pleasure watching them, seemed to come a bit close at times though, I hope they weren't after my ice cream!

I feel loathe to show these 2 pictures after the last posting of that stunning Kingfisher, but I am, no matter how bad they are, as they were there so at least a record shot. Never let it be said that Border shirks his responsibility of posting dreadful photographs on his blog for his publics amusement. This Oystercatcher above flew in and wobbled about the rocks, while this rock pipit seemed interested in what was behind a bench. Probably after my ice cream as well, as he seems to be sidling up to me in a furtive fashion.

And then just when I was considering getting some fudge as a pudding after the ice cream mains, this fellah-me-lad flopped down onto Cobb right in front of me. A juvenile Common Tern. Presumably it was a bit exhausted as it just sat there and allowed me to get to about 20 feet away, before it flew off, round in a circle and landed behind me (the second image).

Of course never having been a boy scout, unprepared I didn't have my bins with me, so couldn't get a good look, but it seemed fine, just resting. Behind it I could see a woman walking towards me. So camera poised, I waited and waited and waited for the take off a flight shot........ next stop Africa.

Finally a few mood shots of surfers on the sea. Lyme Bay is not exactly Bondai Beach, but it was providing some terrific sport for the mad devils who were braving the sub optimal sea temperatures today.

By the way the surfer is on the wave mid ground left, in the one above (I was being pretentious and arty with the camera settings)

Crikey mother, what on earth is this poised in the stream? Well dear reader it's a bird. Or more correctly a sculpture of a bird, no idea what other than a bird of prey and one of many installations around Lyme this week for the Lyme Arts Fest.

I just hope it keeps it's talons off my ice cream................!!!!!!