Sunday, 26 November 2017

Sunday Morning: Just Before Breakfast.

It was cold on the cliffs this morning! The sort of cold that catches your breath and makes you wonder if you have enough layers on!
Even now though, on a Winter's morning the heat of a distant Sun still warms and soon you can enjoy what has to be the best part of any day. I had a time limit this morning (I had to be back home to drop the dogs off before returning for my walk at 10.30 and I don't like being late) and the worst thing you can have on a morning like this is a time limit.
There was still a chance to be impressed by the views from Durlston Head: north past two bays to Old Harry and beyond, across the water to the Isle of Wight or just straight out to a distant horizon, they never get boring. When you reach the southern cliffs the views change and the activity increases with sea birds taking to both the air and the water and the most perfect soundtrack accompanies you. In prime position this morning, giving me a look that is reserved only for a apex predator, was a Peregrine getting ready for breakfast.

Friday, 24 November 2017

An Afternoon at the Ledge

How long it takes to get to get to Dancing Ledge is up to you! The walk along the cliffs from Durlston will take an hour or so if you want to rush, longer if you take time to read the landscape around you page by page. From Langton it takes barely 20 minutes: the walk is easy and the view, when you reach the ridge, across to St.Aldhelm’s Head hits you in the face much more powerfully than the wind. 

Yesterday was blowing well, I knew that from my wave watching at Durlston just a few hours before, but wind can do nothing but improve a walk here. Roe Deer can be seen along the hedge rows here, keeping out of the wind, and two separate families were on show. It is always good to see this year’s youngsters doing well and both family groups had successfully increased the small numbers that we have on the Isle of Purbeck. Later a lone Roe Buck, a big lad at the peak of his fitness, burst from the undergrowth and ran from a Lurcher that was doing its best to keep up but there was more power in the deer’s legs and the dog soon gave up. I have a similar dog and it is a reminder as to why I keep mine on the lead when there are deer around.
Dancing Ledge was deserted when I got there but the waves didn’t care who was watching and continued to hammer the rocks with far more force than any quarryman. Cracks are visible along the cliffs and they widen with every impact: it was obvious that the next fall would not be too far away as the process of erosion reshapes our coast. 

When it is time head up the hill it is impotant not to forget to look behind you, you leave the sea soon enough so make the most of the views while you can.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Close but not too close.

Everywhere you look Autumn has well and truly taken hold of the Isle of Purbeck and there is no better example of this than our precious heathland. Life here changes rapidly as winter closes in but there is still plenty of activity within the shadows it just takes a bit more time to find it. Away from the main path, amongst a bed of multicoloured heather and sheltered from the light winds by deep, thick gorse, Sika can be found enjoying the heat of the Sun before the cold night changes their world again. It can feel like trespassing if you get too close, and you would probably be right, but the thought of disturbing these animals should make you keep your distance. Close is always good, but close without being too close is much better.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Still dark at the pool

All was quiet when I reached the path high above Chapman's Pool, the Sun wasn't awake enough reached the water, the Pheasants that joined us for the walk were keeping themselves to themselves and the dawn chorus was made up of distant sheep and cows.
In the bay below a single fishing boat was checking pots and amusing the gulls, a yacht appeared in the distance and made the most of a light breeze but apart from that all really was quiet.
From here you can see for miles, the view stretches past Houns tout, Kimmeridge and Lulworth with the Chesil bank and Portland providing the horizon: the lack of anything happening does nothing to spoil my time here.
There are many fine views on the Isle of Purbeck and this part of our coast provides my favourites.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Different Day

The atmosphere up on the cliffs this morning was completely different from yesterday with more sound, more light and more birdsong. The Sun seemed slightly redder than usual: there was a haze along the horizon, but whether this was Portuguese smoke or Saharan sand I don't know. Waves had been whipped up and were rolling along the rocks giving an undulating rumble, making some of the finest background music you will find anywhere. Behind me in the Gorse the chatter of birds was as constant as the waves, with Robin and Wren trying to out-shout each other, then suddenly a Firecrest popped up. This tiny little bird, our smallest and about the weight of a 20p coin, makes the Wren look positively chunky and disappeared just as quickly as it arrived.


Monday, 16 October 2017

The Calm Before the Storm.

As Ophelia slides up the coast of Ireland blowing in excess of 80mph, life was quieter and a little less turbulent on the cliffs this morning. Waves were rolling and crashing against the rocks but the sea wasn't too rough, clouds were building but they weren't too dark and a few drops of rain fell but it wasn't too wet.
As the usual Jackdaws and gulls made the most of a freshening breeze a slate-grey Peregrine, only slightly darker than the blue-grey sea, patrolled the cliffs looking for breakfast.
There was nothing to sea here, nothing at all!

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Triple

 We have more than our fair share of wetlands around here, from the shores of Poole Harbour to along the river valley and also at Weymouth. This gives us a great chance to see many different species of water bird including the the Great White and Little Egrets and the faithful old Grey Heron. It was more than a little special to see these three in the same place though.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Snakes, Dragons and the Stonechat.

I called in to the Purbeck Artisan Yard in Wareham today to replace a few prints that have sold and took the chance to wander down the river for a while. The weather was perfect and there was plenty to see with Stonechats supplying a soundtrack just louder than the rustle of reeds in the wind. Butterflies were out in numbers as well as a few Dragonflies, Swans passed on the tide and a couple of Mallards had a serious discussion about one thing or another. Every now and again I'd stop to watch a ripple on the water, the movement of a Reed or listen to a sound that didn't seem to fit. I was careful where I stood, partly because of the mud but also to keep the noise down, but it was a bit of a shock when a beautiful Grass Snake came to life just in front of me.

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Kingshrimper

On the shores of Poole harbour you may well see a Kingfisher or two, that is if you are lucky and paying attention. These birds are quick and you may well only see a flash of neon blue as it skims above the water.
If you are really lucky the Kingfisher may choose a perch not too far away and start fishing for shrimps. Watching them do this is a real treat and catching it on camera is pretty special.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Good Hare Day

This evening's wander was always going to be good, rain that had hounded the day had cleared and left a beautiful evening.
Amongst the Sika and Roe, one massively outnumbered by the other, was a Fox and two Hares. On any other walk I would have played hide and seek with Mrs Fox but the chance of a close encounter Hare was too much to resist.
As the Sun went down a second Hare appeared, boxed slightly with the first and then settled to eat the tender new shoots of grass that have been so helped by the rain.

Thursday, 24 August 2017


I have been neglecting this little blog for the last few months , this may be due to the summer being a busy time in our little town or it could be that July and August are months that I find difficult to work with. Nature is always around of course but I feel far more comfortable in the Autumn, Winter and Spring.
There is always the morning wander though, the walk with the dogs that is the most important of the day, and this morning I found myself on the cliffs again. For me there is no better place to sit and watch the world go by.

As if the view needed improving, to our right sat a Peregrine completely disinterested by our presence and with a selfcontrol that is reserved for our apex predators.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Time for the Kestrel

We are lucky here on the Isle of Purbeck to have a regular breeding pair of Kestrels and this year triplets have fledged and are learning their flying skills above the cliffs. Photographing one of these birds is always great, managing to get two in one frame is pretty lucky, but four in the same shot and nice and close to each other was incredible.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Kingfisher's Breakfast

The morning had barely begun and the Sun was yet to clear the horizon but there we were sat in a hide a few metres from a pond that contained goodness knows how many Trout. A tall tree to the left had a leafless branch that was, apparently, where an Osprey likes to sit to contemplate his next breakfast. I have told the story of our Osprey shoot but there was another story that morning, the stars of which were no fewer than three Kingfishers. They are quick, beautifully painted and wonderful to watch and photograph. We were at this place to watch two birds, both fisherman, both using the same pond, both incredibly successful and both completely indifferent to each other.
The light was still not what I wanted but the Kingfisher is a beautiful bird whatever the light and it is always great to watch. The shots I took that morning would have been improved tenfold if the sun had been shining but that was not to be and I have what I have. I also have some superb memories of a very successful predator doing what it does best.

Sunday Morning: Just Before Breakfast.

It was cold on the cliffs this morning! The sort of cold that catches your breath and makes you wonder if you have enough layers on! Even ...