10th – 21st May – areas near Poole, a choral concert and a serious dip.   Leave a comment


We had a number of attempts to ring migrants at the back of PC World early in the week but none have been very successful. Most migrants seem to have have passed through now. The retail park is always covered in litter in the early morning. Why McDonald’s customers are incapable of using the many litter bins is beyond me.


We also went to see the new Star Trek film. Certainly an amazing spectacle in 3D. I have long been a bit of a trekkie, and am glad that these recent prequel films have managed to keep the franchise going. Its remarkable that the concept has run for nearly 50 years.


I have failed to see Puffins at Portland this year so on the 16th I walked down from Langton Matravers to Dancing Ledge. A few pairs breed on the nearby cliffs and I have seen as many as 18 birds here in the past. I found one on the water and an RSPB boat trip to the cliffs a few days later found only two. Whether this decline has anything to do with the recent spills of PIB in the Channel is open to conjecture. Note the school party on a rock climbing course.


A Puffin on the water, a similar view to that which I obtained off dancing Ledge. Photo from the Internet.


On the 17th I made a return visit to Mordon Bog, this was more successful than on previous trips with Redstart, Siskin, Crossbill, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodlark and Tree Pipit all seen and plenty of other birds heard.


For some reason gorse bushes look particularly vivid this year,


Threatening clouds looked they would curtail the birding but the rain never amounted to much.


Margaret spent much of Saturday 18th rehearsing for the choir’s performance that evening, so I went up to Martin Down in the hope of seeing some Turtle Doves. I took the back route via Cranbourne and passed through these lovely bluebell woods.


Martin Down, just over the border in Hampshire is an fragment of the chalk grassland that once covered the whole area and is a haven for many invertebrates and grassland flora. Nightingales and Turtle Doves were once common but the former no longer occur and the latter hasn’t been seen there yet this year.


The lovely Orange Tip butterfly was some consolation …..


… as was this gorgeous display of cowslips.


The Barclays House Choir’s spring concert at St Peter’s Church, Ashley Cross. Margaret is just to the left of conductor James Eaton.


Soloists Pablo Strong and Ashley Duplechein gave a wonderful performance. It was a most eclectic mix of music , ranging from favourite operatic standards like March of the Toreador’s from Carmen, and the Anvil Chorus from Il Travatore to music from films and TV programs including pieces from Dr Who (hence the Dalek on the pulpit) and from Finding Nemo (hence the orange fish).


I keep getting in trouble with Amber for posting supposedly unflattering pictures of her on my blog, but she can’t complain of this nice pic of her and Auntie Anita in the pub afterwards.



Prior to the concert there was an unfortunate development. News broke very late on the Friday evening (after we had gone to bed) of a major rarity in Margate, Kent. A Dusky Thrush had been seen for several days but news only got out late at night. We had a lazy morning on Saturday and I didn’t pick up the news until 1000. Some friends were already  there and others said they could go on Sunday but then at 1030 I was offered a lift. Allowing 30 minutes to get to my lift, 3.5 hours driving each way and two at the bird and I would be back at  7 pm only 30 minutes before Margaret’s concert. Any delay and I would miss it. In the end I did the honourable thing, declined the lift and went on the Sunday.

Dusky Thrush is one of seven Asiatic thrushes (of the genus Turdus or Zoothera) that have occurred in the UK. I have seen all but one somewhere in Asia, but only three in the UK. The last twitchable Dusky Thrush was in 1959, so although I don’t chase rare birds anything like as often as I once did, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The thrush was seen off and on all day but wasn’t seen on Sunday. Roger Howell, Jol Mitchell and I set off at 0530 but turned around on the M3 when it was obvious that it had gone. We birded a bit in the New Forest before calling it a day. At least I have seen good numbers of the species in China, Japan and Siberia. Margaret and Janis’ friends Angela and Helen had come over from Southampton for the concert and had stayed with us so I spent the rest of the day socialising with them and our  family.




Mandarin Duck male: A small population of this introduced duck breeds in the New Forest. A beautiful bird, but scant compensation for missing a  Dusky Thrush.


Steve Ashton Dusky Thrush

For anyone who wonders what the bird looked like, here is a photo from the internet by Steve Ashton. http://steveashtonwildlifephotography.blogspot.co.uk
If only news had broken earlier, if only I had checked the bird news earlier, if only it hadn’t been the day of the concert, if only it had stayed until Sunday, if only I’d stop whinging and accept that dipping is a normal part of birding!!



On the evening of the 22nd we climbed up the chalk ridge that runs between Corfe Castle and Old Harry as a Nightingale had been heard there recently. The view was spectacular, although in the fading light you can see little of the landscape in the photo. The Nightingale sang well, but as always, was invisible. Later we drove around Hartland Moor where we heard one Nightjar and saw another.

Posted May 22, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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