Thursday, 21 August 2014

Return to Morden Bog

Summer holidays and at last a week off work. However this was not a week for birding, rather it was a family week. With nothing booked, I took my daughters to visit my brother in Dorset who rather conveniently lives in an idyllic cottage next to a watercress farm in a pretty valley not far from the coast. Grey Wagtails greeted us as we arrived.
The following morning neither daughter seemed overly keen on leaving the comfort of their beds, they are teenage after all, so I passed a pleasant morning around the house and garden. A Buzzard mewed from a telegraph post in the neighbours garden and the anxious chatter of the local Swallows signalled the arrival of a Hobby rocketing across the front lawn. Flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets frequently dropped in to drink and bathe in the clear waters of the watercress beds but the biggest surprise was the shrill call of a smart Tree Pipit which dropped by to join them.
With the day wearing on I managed, with great effort, to drag the girls out of the house for fresh air and some exercise and took them to the nearby Morden Bog, the scene of my first twitch of  2014. Despite her earlier reluctance, younger daughter suddenly took a great interest in grasshoppers although birds were strictly off limits as far as she was concerned. I had given her my camera to keep her interested and one of her grasshoppers perched obligingly on her finger for her to photograph it. I've yet to identify it.

She disappeared down the path in pursuit of other insect prey and came back to announce she had photographed a blue dragonfly. Checking her photos revealed a fine Keeled Skimmer, a species I have yet to see, but the sun promptly went behind a cloud and there was no sign of any dragonflies after that.

The bog was much quieter than at the start of June, hardly surprising in the middle of the afternoon towards the end of August but I managed to find 2 Dartford Warblers, 2 Stonechats and a Wheatear. The heath bore no sign of the trampling presence of the hundreds of birders just 12 weeks previously.
Today I stuck strictly to non-birding stuff and despite taking the girls to Weymouth, didn't visit either Lodmoor or Radipole, although I managed to spot a Med Gull as I drove over the bridge next to the latter. At Maiden Castle, a spectacular iron age hill fort near Dorchester, I left my bins in the car yet again but proving that once a birder always a birder, veered from our planned route around the ramparts in pursuit of the large cronking corvid that flew over, and located that east anglian rarity, a Raven, next to a small group of Crows, its great bulk obvious even to my non-birding brother. For a family trip I feel I've done rather well on the bird front and the girls seem happy with their trip too. Result!

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