Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Visitors from afar

Without wishing to give the impression I am an anti-social cuss, I try to encourage friends and family to avoid visiting me during the months of May and October, as these represent two of my favourite months for wildlife photography. I could of course expand this to cover the bird migration seasons of 'spring' (Feb-June) and 'autumn' (July-November) but that would seem unreasonable. In any case, as often as not they ignore this advice, in which case I am forced to fall back on the small print in the visitors contract which states that if they insist on coming (i) I can't promise I will be there and (ii) I can't promise to appear to be enjoying myself if I would rather be somewhere else.

This Bank Holiday weekend friends from Cornwall (Debbie and Alec) retaliated to my frequent visits to their house at convenient times of year for rare bird migration by arriving at mine. They were of course made very welcome, and a bit of birding had to be squeezed in on Friday night before their arrival, and Monday evening after their departure. And on the Saturday, when we took them to Arne. And a bit on Sunday when I dragged Alec to Portland for an early morning shift. Well it's not my fault if they didn't read the small print.

On Friday there was just time between plumping up the pillows in the spare room and rolling out the red carpet to nip up to Longham Lakes to see a Bonaparte's Gull which had spent a few days in the area, one of a number of this wanderer from the Americas to turn up in southern England in recent days. That was easy enough to find on the North Lake, either hawking insects or sitting out on a man-made island near the shore.
With our guests arriving late on Friday, the household succumbed to the temptation of a lie in on Saturday and after lunch at the Arne café, we took the long route around the reserve which took us away from the busiest areas. Highlights were a couple of Sand Lizards, one of which, to our surprise, sat out on the heather next to the path and didn't scarper as we made our way past. This was closely followed by an exquisite Small Copper and an equally exquisite male Siskin by the café.
Dragging Alec down to Portland early on Sunday morning proved to be a bit of a disappointment bird-wise - a strong wind was blowing from the south east, migrants were thin on the ground (restricted to a few Yellow Wagtails, a couple of Turtle Doves and an Arctic Skua past the Bill) and we failed to see an Eastern Subalpine Warbler present at Cheyne Weares despite a near two hour vigil. Fortunately in view of the lack of birds, as a former Naval officer, Alex was happy to revisit former haunts around Portland.
Bank Holiday Monday saw us bidding farewell to our guests, and me heading back to Portland shortly afterwards for another crack at the Eastern Subalpine Warbler. In much more clement weather, this was successful, and it showed about as well as any Subalpine Warbler I have seen, feeding actively and singing in the late afternoon. Wheatears and Linnets at the Bill capped a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for visitors - avian and human. With apologies to my guests if my body language ever suggested otherwise!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peter - you forgot the New Years resolutions of getting out in Jan as much as possible (thus avoiding visitors)