Saturday, 29 August 2020

A Risky Business

It's hard to imagine a more sedate pastime than birding. Strolling about, pausing regularly to scan the hedges and whatnot, or even sitting in a comfy chair for hours at a time while peering at the sea. Hardly free solo climbing is it? And yet...

On Thursday, in a strong SE wind, Mark D was seawatching at Berry Head...

In front of some torrential rain, the wind suddenly switched from 40mph SE to 70mph N, and apparently stayed that way for about 30 minutes. At the Berry Head seawatching spot there is no protection from a northerly. I couldn't help wondering what might have happened if ten or fifteeen seawatchers had been gathered, instead of just Mark. One or two of the perches used there are precarious, to say the least. Sobering. In the event, aside from sandwich box and brolly, no harm done. But could have been much, much worse.

This morning I went to one of the spots I've been plugging away at lately, Burton Bradstock. The cliffs here are some of the first coastal high ground W of Chesil Beach, and certainly attractive to birds. So the clifftop path is frequently my first port of call. Anyway, just before 06:30 this happened...

The cliffs at this point are apparently 160ft high, which gives you some idea of the scale of that rock fall. Notice how it appears to go almost all the way to the top. However, I can tell you that I set out from the Hive Beach car park at 06:20, and was probably right there on that clifftop path at, or very shortly after, 06:30, blissfully unaware that anything had happened, and that there was now a monstrous undercut in the cliff. In places the path is just feet from the edge, a fact which keeps a bloke with a healthy respect for crumbly cliffs and vertical drops very much on the inland side of it! Even so, flippin' heck!

So, a few photos from the last couple of days, one or two of which I unwittingly risked life and limb for...

Tree Pipit hiding in the clifftop grass at Burton Bradstock, one of three which dropped in together yesterday morning. My first locally.
The ubiquitous Wheatear shot, with tastefully blurred cow's backside.

A visit to West Bexington yesterday afternoon rewarded me with the entertaining spectacle of a Common Tern feeding its two juvs. I didn't do that brilliantly at getting food-pass type shots, and this one is probably the best...

Pair of Gannets
Three of five Sanderling. A fleeting, scuttly distraction
Cogden Whinchat from this morning's walk.
And a Swift, perhaps my last one of 2020?

There has certainly been plenty to look at over the last couple of days. Adding the totals gives me some 91 Yellow Wagtails, 39 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats, 3 Tree Pipits, a handful of common warblers, a pile of hirundines (particularly today) and a Swift. A party of three alba wagtails heading W this morning looked suspiciously like White Wags...the whole birding vibe has suddenly got very autumnal. Exciting times.

Hopefully not too exciting though!*

* See above...


  1. Gav, I saw this (cliff fall) on the BBC website yesterday and mentioned it to the others in the house.
    "Isn't that where Gav goes?"!!
    Well no casualties were mentioned so I assumed all was good.

    Admit it, you've been putting on a bit of weight lately. And you do have size twelve's.

    1. Believe me, I tread very lightly indeed up there! 😄