Archive for the ‘Rick Wakeman’ Tag

2015 – That was the year that was   Leave a comment

With 2015 over this post looks back over the year at some of the places we have been, birds we have seen, music we have heard and people we have met.

Of course, much more detailed accounts can be found clicking on the relevant month from the list on the left of the screen (or sometimes the month after if the post was uploaded a while after the event).

IMG_4325 Purps

The year started with the traditional New Year’s Day bird boat, kindly arranged by Mark and Mo Constantine for Dorset birders. These Purple Sandpipers were photographed on the Sandbanks side of the chain ferry on 1/1/15 . Also in early January I took part in the annual winter bird race, recording an amazing 126 species in Dorset in 12 hours.

IMG_0533 Lear's Macaws

The first foreign trip was to NE Brazil which lasted more than three weeks but resulted in me seeing over 70 life birds – by far the most of any trip of the year. There were many highlights, one being cracking views of the wonderful Lear’s Macaw in a very dramatic setting.

IMG_1818 rainbow

Here I photographed the nearby town through a rainbow whilst staying at the lovely and very birdy Serra Bonita reserve.

IMG_2550 Rick Wakeman

As well as travelling we both have a keen interest in music – be it old favourites from my past like Rick Wakeman, whose keyboard skills in the band Yes were much appreciated in my youth ….

IMG_0315 Paloma Faith

…. to more modern acts like Paloma Faith. We saw Rick Wakeman in February and Paloma about a month later in Poole and Bournemouth respectively.

IMG_2841 North Cape

In early March we took advantage of a charter flight to Tromso in arctic Norway where we boarded the Hutigruten coastal steamer and journeyed around North Cape at the top of Norway in the hope of seeing the Aurora Borealis ….

IMG_2713 aurora (best)

…. which indeed we did on four nights out of five. We were lucky as some do this trip yet come away disappointed, but if we had gone about 10 days later we might have had a truly spectacular display as the aurora was seen as far south as Norfolk.

IMG_3665 Sandhills

We booked on the Birdquest tour to Colorado that started on April 1st but we spent the last week of March on our own touring Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The main reason for this visit was to see the incredible gathering of hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes on Nebraska’s Platte River. We also visited the Badlands of South Dakota ….

IMG_3987 Mt Rushmore

…. saw the Presidents heads at Mount Rushmore, the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and even drove into Montana to look for the ‘dental floss bushes’.

IMG_4439 WT Ptarmigan

For one reason or another I never got round to editing all my photos of Colorado nor did I post any on the blog but it was a superb trip and one of the highlights was finding these almost invisible White-tailed Ptarmigan at 12500 ft in the Rockies. Perhaps I can find time this year to sort out the Colorado pics.

IMG_7191 The Matterhorn

Early May saw us taking a fortnight in the Alps and southern France, seeing such wonders as the Matterhorn (above), Mont Blanc and the Eiger. I also saw what was probably the last regularly occurring European bird that I needed, the elusive Rock Partridge.

IMG_8055 Elizabeth and Marc

The whole trip was a prelude to attending Margaret’s nephew’s Mark’s wedding to Elizabeth in Donbirn in western Austria. The only downside to the trip was that I found out whilst there that my next tour, a cruise in far North-east Russia had been cancelled as the necessary permit hadn’t been issued by the Russians.

IMG_8656 WW Black Tern

Late spring brought some great birds to the Poole Harbour area, such as the Red-footed Falcon that hung around the Wareham water meadows or this White-winged Tern at Swineham gravel pits.

IMG_8606 Margaret

In June Margaret had the privilege of being invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. It was the centenary of the WI and each one of the 8000 or so WI groups across the UK was invited to send one representative.

IMG_8696 Moody Blues

Back to music again: we went to a very entertaining concert by the Moody Blues in June. Some great old songs with a great visual effects, the three founder members and four new ones all performed very well.


During the summer our group was asked to undertake an intensive radio tracking study on Eurasian Nightjars on one of the local heaths. The data is still being analysed but the initial results seem very interesting.

IMG_8786 Amber and Kara

At the end of the spring term our granddaughter Kara (R) left school to attend a sixth form college. During the summer she and a friend visited relatives in the Caribbean. Her sister Amber (L) left Dorset to study and work in Cornwall.

IMG_8829 Margaret & Jennie

Staying on the subject of family; during late June and early July Margaret and I visited her daughter in Essex and my brother in Derby. We also visited several sets of friends including Jennie, a friend from university days, seen here with Margaret at Wicken Fen reserve in Suffolk.

IMG_9006 Leds Town Hall

We continued on to Leeds where we spent time with Nigel, another friend from school and university days.

IMG_6416 Lytchett Heath dawn

Much of July and August (and indeed the rest of the autumn) was spent in our ongoing ornithological research at Lytchett Bay and Durlston. We were able to start ringing at a new and highly productive site at the north end of Lytchett Bay where this photo was taken soon after dawn.

IMG_9121 Hen Harrier Day Poster_edited-1

One issue that featured heavily during the summer was the campaign to save England’s remaining Hen Harriers. Although this has highlighted before on the blog it deserves repeating. All the evidence points to a systematic, ruthless and totally illegal program of raptor extermination in Britain’s uplands by a small number of people in an attempt to raise grouse stocks to hugely inflated numbers. The loss of these beautiful raptors is a national disgrace and the campaign for their protection will continue unabated in 2016.

IMG_6399 Killian and DIMW

We met many old friends at the Bird Fair in Augustand attended a number of talks. Without doubt the most inspiring was vetran birder Ian Wallace’s account of his best ever day’s birding. His contribution to ornithology and birding is immense. Here he is seen talking to another birding legend, Killian Mullarney fro Ireland.

IMG_6430 Wryneck DCP

Ringing continued on a regular basis throughout the autumn producing many interesting recoveries and useful data. The most unusual aspect was the enormous influx of Goldcrests in late October and November, but I suppose the individual bird that gave me the most pleasure was this Wryneck that I trapped at Durlston in September.

IMG_6437 Guy & Lila

It’s always good to stay in contact with old friends and it was good to see Guy Dutson in early September, back for a short visit from Australia with his daughter Lila.

IMG_0585 dawn Laguna Blanca

In late September/early October I went on a tour to Paraguay. The birding was excellent and the company good but it was very hot, particularly in the first week and the mammal sightings were disappointing. Compared the mountainous parts of South America, the scenery wasn’t that awe-inspiring, but the mists over Laguna Blanca at dawn were most photogenic.

IMG_0328 WW Nightjar

We saw some wonderful birds, non more so than these two species: White-winged Nightjar ….

SW Nightjar J Newman

…. and Sickle-winged Nightjar. The latter was of particular importance to me as it was the 8000th species I have seen. The bird was trapped by the tour leader as he is taking part in a research program on this threatened species and he wanted to see if it was one of the individuals he had already ringed. In my photo the bird has closed its eyes which looks less appealing so I have used one taken by my friend Jonathon Newman.

IMG_1444 Hagia Spohia

The last trip of the year was in late November to Turkey. It was a cultural, rather than a birding trip and we visited some great sites in Istanbul such as the magnificent Hagi Sophia ….

IMG_1769 calcite formations

…. and some natural one too like the beautiful calcite formations at Pamukkale.

IMG_2244 Jools Holland

Also in the latter part of the year we went to a couple more musical performances, veteran folk singer Judy Collins in Wimborne and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at the BIC.

IMG_6777 Boxing Day dinner

And the year ended, as all years should with get togethers with family and friends at Christmas time.

As I said at the start each picture above is taken from a blog post during the year. If you wish to see more photos from that event then cloick on the relevant month on the side bar.

Well, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy 2016, if you are a birder like me, may the year bring you lots of excellent sightings, if you are not perhaps you ought to give it ago, buying a pair of binoculars and a field guide back in 1977 was one of the best decisions I ever made.

March 2015 (mainly) – Catching up: musical and social events, Undiscovered Owls and a dip on an eclipse.   Leave a comment

I don’t know if its Facebook or WordPress’ fault but the picture that comes up when I post the blog link isn’t the one that appears on my Facebook Timeline. Can anyone help me stop this?

IMG_2550 Rick Wakeman

On 13th February we attended a lovely evening at the Lighthouse in Poole entitled ‘Yet another evening with Rick Wakeman’ Just the man himself and a piano, this proved to be a wonderful evening showcasing his fantastic keyboard skills as he played a series of pieces depicting various times in his life.

IMG_2554 Rick Wakeman

Musician, composer, TV personality, raconteur and comedian, Rick told stories about the recording of ‘Morning Has Broken’ with Cat Stevens, his time with Yes, describing singed Jon Anderson as ‘I have never known someone who cares so deeply about the planet whilst living on a totally different one’ and what happened when his mother took all the inhabitants of an old people’s home to see one of his extravagant rock concerts.

IMG_0361 Paloma Faith

Over a month later on the 15th March we visited the BIC to see the lovely and very talented Paloma Faith in concert. Her music was wonderful (although I found the sound mix to be a bit strong on the treble for my ears) but what really grabbed my attention was the support act ….

IMG_0298 Ty Taylor

…. I had never heard of California band Vintage Trouble before (although I have seen singer Ty Taylor performing with Paloma on the Jools Holland Show). The musicians played excellent blues and rock style but Ty Taylor stole the show, if you shut your eyes you could believe you were listening to James Brown or Otis Redding. His energetic act took him all over the stage and indeed all over the auditorium. He returned to perform an Aretha Franklin song with Paloma during the main set.

IMG_0304 Vintage Trouble

Stupidly I didn’t take my camera so these shots were taken on my phone. This was particularly annoying as we had great seats just behind the mixing deck free from other people’s heads. Here Ty Taylor, Rick Barrio Dill, Nalle Colt and Richard Danielson line up to be photographed by and with the fans.

IMG_0315 Paloma Faith

In the second half Paloma Faith did a great set on her white art deco stage, complete with a ten piece band (most of whom are hiding in this shot).

IMG_0368 Paloma Faith

And here dances with her backing singers.

IMG_2636 Amber

Some family news. Our granddaughter Amber is still working in Essex and living with her aunt and uncle Anita and John. She came back to Dorset for a week and paid us a visit or two. As those of you who have visited us might notice, we have had all the doors and some internal windows in the house replaced recently which gives it a much brighter look.

IMG_1685 John, Anita, Kara & M

John and Anita also paid us a visit on the way back from visiting friends in Weymouth and Kara popped in too. Coincidently it was Mother’s Day so that was a nice treat for Margaret.

IMG_1684 Bob, Alan and Ian

In the last fortnight I have had a reunion with an old friend and had to say goodby to some new ones. Alan Martin, treasurer and one of the leading ringers in Stour Ringing Group up to 1996, was back in Dorset on business so three of us joined him for a drink in Wareham on 13th. L-R Bob Gifford, Alan Martin and Ian Alexander

IMG_1686 Farewells

We were all back in a pub in Wareham (well nearby Stoborough to be precise) on the 17th to say farewell to two members of the ringing group. Simon Breeze, a warden at Durlston is leaving for a new job in Somerset and Mick Cook has decided to retire from ringing due to other commitments. L-R Ian, Bob, Shaun Robson, Simon Breeze, Mike Gould, Sean Walls and Mick Cook. We wish them both  well but manning the ringing site at Durlston without their input and their expertise is going to be a challenge .

On 18th it was back to Wareham again, this time for the AGM of the Dorset Bird Club which we held in the Methodist church. The Club had looked like it was in danger of folding but thanks to a very generous offer from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity, Marcus Lawson has been employed for two years to take the Club forwards. After the AGM we had a fascinating talk from Magnus Robb on the new Sound Approach book ‘Undiscovered Owls’. We heard some of the wonderful sound recordings (the one of a Ural Owl was so atmospheric), were informed about Magnus’ discovery of the Omani Owl and learned about how the Little Owls over much of Europe, North Africa and Asia are not Little Owls at all , but a separate species they are naming the ‘Cucumeow’. It was one of the most entertaining and informative talks I have ever been to.

IMG_1689 Magnus at DBC AGM

Magnus answering questions after his talk on Undiscovered Owls. It looks like this book is going to be of an even higher standard than the four the Sound Approach has produced already. See for details including a pre-publication discount offer.

On the morning of the 20th there was the long-awaited partial eclipse of the Sun. It was going to be about an 88% coverage of the Sun by the Moon but that would have been spectacular enough. However there was thick cloud in our area and all we noticed was a drop in light levels and temperature. Fortunately I have seen several partial eclipses and a total eclipse, although the latter only briefly. In August 1999 I took a flight from Hurn airport specifically to see the total eclipse. We flew SW of Cornwall to the area of totality. Views through the aircraft windows were good but not excellent, because in spite being in a window seat as soon as I had seen it I had to duck down to let the other two passengers in my row have a view and because almost immediately the pilot had to turn the plane around to let the other side have a chance. As a result views of totality were restricted to a few seconds. One of the most memorable things was watching the shadow of the Moon race across the clouds towards us leaving a dark purple stain in its wake.

1999 eclipse scan of print

Although far better shots can be seen on the internet I have uploaded a scan of this photo which was taken from the cockpit of the 1999 charter flight and was delivered as print to all the passengers. It has been on my sideboard for the last 16 years and has faded some what. This along with it being taken though an aircraft’s window explains the poor quality.

And finally I delayed posting this entry until after our Ringing Group’s AGM on the 22nd. I thought it would be nice to have a photo of all of us together, well 13 out of the 16 of us actually. The evening went well and we made lots of plans for the future, sorted out a few issues and awarded the ‘Stoate Award’ for the worst paperwork entry of the year, but after the meeting had broken up I realised I had forgotten to take any photos. We have managed to go three years since the last AGM (does that make it a TGM?) so it might be 2018 before I have a chance to do that again.


A prom, a move and a great concert   Leave a comment


Without wishing to sound like the old Yorkshire men in the Monty Python sketch, ‘it wasn’t like that when I was at school’. The best we had was a sixth form disco at age 18.  Amber, now aged 16, has been excited about attending her school prom for some time now. Imagine the turmoil when Janis phoned to say that her car had broken down on the way back from work and she woldn’t be able to take Amber to the prom at Kingston Maurwood near Dorchester. Even worse she had Amber’s new shoes with her.

We quickly went into action, Margaret went off to help Amber get ready and I went to find Janis and rescue the shoes, whilst she waited for the breakdown services. After much faffing we eventually took a beautifully made up Amber her friend Matt’s house near Wareham, where she met up with her boyfriend Josh. Josh’s mother then took Amber, Josh and Matt to Kingston Maurwood. Sue’s comment ‘wow Amber you look like you are 21’ says it all.

These photos were taken in Wareham before they set off.


IMG_0029 Amber Josh Matt IMG_0028 Amber Josh IMG_0022 Amber Josh

IMG_0027 Amber

On Saturday we went over to Bournemouth for a concert, but first we called into John and Anita’s flat for one last time. They were all packed up for the move to Essex. It has been great visiting the Bournemouth flat, which overlooks the pedestrianised Old Christchurch Road, the scene of many a stag or hen party. Over the last year we have attended lots of interesting events, beach parties, concerts, firework displays etc, of course we can still go to them, Bournemouth is only a 20 minute drive away, but somehow I doubt if we will be quite so motivated.



We were on our way to the BIC to see the 40th anniversary of Rick Wakeman’s ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’, a musical version of the famous Jules Verne novel. I have enjoyed keyboard virtuoso’s music since his days with progressive rock band Yes. I have to say that on the records I prefer ‘The Six Wives Of Henry VIII’ to ‘The Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ but tonight’s concert was excellent. Any  fears that I might have had after the Martha and the Vandellas concerts that these ‘blasts from the past’ are not worth going to were completely unfounded. The rock band were supplemented by a full orchestra and choir and the concert was very well received by audience.

During the short first ‘half’ Rick Wakeman played just four numbers illustrating various stepping stones on the way to the performance of ‘Journey’, in addition he told hilarious stories about the original productions world tour in the 70’s.

In the second ‘half’ which was three times longer than the first and comprised of the full concert and a lengthy encore. Rick Wakeman appeared with his trademark golden cape and played his usual bank of keyboards.

In the first photo below he is joined by vocalist Hayley Sanderson during the first section, the rest are from the full concert culminating in a standing ovation.