20th – 24th December – Merry Christmas to all readers of this blog.   Leave a comment

With continued wet and often windy weather we have just about given up ringing for the rest of the year, in addition several of the group have left to visit various relatives/friends for Christmas. Birding also has been pretty quiet apart but a break from the torrential rain allowed me to spend a nice hour at Holes Bay. A Common Sandpiper, a group of Avocets, a few wintering Chiffchaffs and the usual range of ducks were the highlights, but the Spoonbills have returned to their usual spot at Arne and there are no Spotted Redshanks around.

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The outfall from the sewage works flows into Holes Bay and keeps the bay ice-free in very cold weather.

Later in the day I had a phone call from Steve W Smith to say he had found a Whooper Swan and Bean Goose on the flooded fields at East Holme near Wareham. I have seen both species this year but both are rare in Dorset so I headed down there ASAP. On arrival the Whooper, although distant, was easy enough to locate but the Bean Goose remained obscured by a flock of Greylags. After watching for some time, the balance of opinion changed to it being a Pink-footed Goose, but confirmation was impossible at that distance. The following day Steve was able to get better views and confirm that it was indeed a Pinky. Although Pinkies are much, much commoner than Beans in the UK as a whole, I have seen only one of each in the Poole Harbour area before, showing that they are both very scarce this far south.

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In spite of recent rain the fields at East Holme weren’t quite as flooded as on my last visit on the 10th when they threatened to cover the road.

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Whooper Swan photographed earlier this year at Harbridge. I can easily fail to see Whooper Swan during the year, but in 2012 I have seen them in Dorset, Hampshire, South Wales and breeding and wintering in Shetland.

Margaret finished work on the 21st until the New Year. We seldom have much free time together except when we are away on holiday, so we looked forwards to a relaxing time over Christmas. Many years I fail to get into the Christmas spirit.  For half of the years between 1978 and 2010 I have had to work or be on call from home over Christmas or New Year. Other years, such as 2011 when I went to Ethiopia, I have returned from a foreign trip in December and whilst everyone else is talking about gifts and parties, all I want to do is wind down from the trip. This year I am really looking forwards to the family getting together for a meal tomorrow and the ritual present opening and visiting my brother and family later in the week.

Generally we avoid TV soap operas and talent shows, preferring wildlife, historical and scientific documentaries, enlivened by the odd science fiction program or comic quiz like QI, but we have both become quite fascinated by this years Strictly Come Dancing. The final was a real cliff hanger and we spent most of Saturday evening glued to the screen.

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The three couples in the final, personally I wanted Denise van Outen to win, but all three were excellent.

On Sunday 23rd we were paid a quick visit by Janis and family (who were on their way to visit Andy’s daughter in Sussex) and a longer one by John and Anita. In the evening Margaret and I went to the Parish Church for the Christmas carol concert. As always the church was packed and we ended up sitting behind the choir besides the altar along with a bunch of young kids. As the kids got restless Margaret entertained them by making paper hats and other origami with the hymn sheets.

Rather than wait until after Christmas when the cinemas will be packed we opted to go and see The Hobbit this afternoon. I think by making it into three films Peter Jackson has strung the story out somewhat, as The Hobbit was only a single book compared to the Lord of The Rings trilogy. The special effects, fight sequences and locations were superb but I think it would be fair to say that the film lacks the depth and complexity of Lord of the Rings, but there again so does the book.

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Unlike The Lord of the Rings, Tolkein wrote the prequel, The Hobbit, as a children’s book.

This evening we have all been invited to Anita and John’s for a meal but I’ll report on that in the Christmas Day update.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

Posted December 24, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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