March 2023

Sunday 19th. The breeze was forecast to be light and from the NW so we decided on a walk along the Weston cliffs on Portland. In the event the wind along the cliff was fresher than anticipated and although the local Fulmars were having a whale of a time, there was no visible migration and we had to be content with 2 Wheatears and a male Blackcap, which was new for the year.

Saturday 18th. Just one Stonechat was evident this morning, though 2 Chiffchaffs were singing nearby, including from our hedge. As the morning warmed, a Brimstone flew by; our first of the spring. The rest of the day was taken up by the final weekend of this season’s Six Nations, beginning with Scotland just about overcoming a spirited Italy, France beating Wales comfortably enough with some more exhilarating rugby before their thoughts turned to the post-match chardonnay then a much improved England trying but failing to prevent an Irish Grand Slam which, it has to be said, was much deserved.

Friday 17th. We woke to find a pair of Mallards casing the garden and, on the field across the road, 52 Med. Gulls and 140 Common Gulls, while the hedges and fence lines held a Wheatear and no fewer than 7 Stonechats, 5 of which were females. Not to be outdone, a House Sparrow appeared outside the patio doors; a species that has a curious distribution here, being abundant up on the farm only ten minutes away and with smaller pockets up in the village, but this was only the second here this year.

Thursday 16th. As some watery sun developed around the first coffee of the morning I noticed something flycatching from the wires along the road that on closer inspection turned out to be a Wheatear. It was one of 3 that moved across the road on to the fences opposite where they were joined by 2 male Stonechats, a Meadow Pipit and a Chiffchaff, all of which were likely to have been migrants. It’s spring! The appearance of a Yellowhammer was also noteworthy, being the first here since January.

Tuesday 14th. There wasn’t much to say about yesterday, which involved my fourth session of immunotherapy, except perhaps that I was given a very relaxing foot massage while being infused. Today was actually quite pleasant, with yesterday’s gales having dropped away and some spring sunshine making the garden smile a bit, so here are some Lesser Celandines to illustrate the point.

Saturday 11th. Another overcast and wet day should have given us a clue as to the outcome of the penultimate weekend of the Six Nations. It started off with a much improved Wales seeing off a below-par Italy in Rome and then came to England v France at Twickenham. I guess we all thought this would be tough but in the event England were stuffed like a Portobello mushroom, losing 10-53 to an outstanding French side that seized the initiative after two minutes and never let go. There have been three decent sides in this season’s competition but I’m afraid England isn’t one of them. Ponderous, lacking in invention and athleticism, they really do have a long way to go. Is Eddie chuckling into his chardonnay, I wonder?

Friday 10th. The day was taken up significantly by a visit to Poole to see Rachel the oncologist and to discuss the results of last week’s CT scan. As expected, the cancer has spread, but this is balanced by my tolerating immunotherapy well and, so far, the absence of any serious side effects. So, it’s onwards and as upwards as possible and if the current dismal weather does relent, looking forward to some of this year’s spring, which will be a relief from the chilly conditions that we are experiencing at present, all of which is forcing me and the cat to watch cricket indoors. Well, someone has to do it.

Wednesday 8th. Some long-awaited rain fell overnight, though it was not the snow that was suggested, and light but steady rain continued for much of the day. Although most things (including me) were keeping their heads down, a Jay appeared on our garden fence around midday; only the third this year and reflective of the low numbers that were evident last autumn.

Monday 6th. The field behind us was sowed with spring barley yesterday, keeping a few gulls and corvids interested, as well as the wagtail flock that held at least 5 white wagtails and a Meadow Pipit; the first here since January and maybe a sign that some migration is in the air. That was certainly evident in a visit by my old birding mate Trevor Wyatt, who accompanied us on trips to Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Israel and Turkey during the 1970s and 1980s. He travelled down from London by train and although we only had time for lunch in Potter’s Café in Dorchester and a visit to our cottage it was a very enjoyable three hours and the day was capped off nicely by a beautiful sunset …..

.Sunday 5th. Well, spring must be around the corner, as we mowed our meadow for the first time this morning, as well as washing our filthy car. If that doesn’t bring some foul weather, nothing will! More WPL saw Delhi Capitals reach 223-2 against RCB, then the clumsily-named UP Warriorz condemn Gujarat to a second defeat by three wickets. All of that seemed mundane as we watched Liverpool put seven goals past Manchester United while having dinner at Tom and Sheila’s, then heard a Little Owl calling up the lane on our way home.

Saturday 4th. Dull, cold but still conditions provided an ideal opportunity for a closer look at the alba wagtail flock on the field behind us and, as suspected, at least 8 of the 26 that were present were white wagtails M.a.alba. Otherwise, it continues to be very quiet out there, so the cat and I spent much of the day watching the first WPL match between Mumbai Indians (who racked up 207 in their 20 overs with Harmanpreet Kaur picking apart the field as if they weren’t there in scoring a superb 65 from 30 balls) and Gujarat Giants, who amounted to something rather less in being bowled out for a diminutive 64. It was thoroughly enjoyable and a showcase for the women’s game that has improved beyond recognition in the last few years.

Thursday 2nd. Margot departed just after midday and little seemed to be going on outside until roost time when around 50 Pied Wagtails had gathered on the freshly ploughed field. We went to buy supplies in Poundbury and on the way back flushed a Little Owl from the copse along the Friar Waddon road.

Wednesday 1st. With Karen having to work all morning we didn’t get out until just after midday, but were treated to two Dorset ticks in little over two hours! The first was gooseberry pie at the Lobster Pot at Portland Bill, made even sweeter by the fact that Margot and I bagged the last two portions and the second two Red-throated Divers that flew east past the Bill at around 2.30. At home, Martin took the rest of the day to finish ploughing the field behind us (Rome wasn’t ploughed in a day) and although the March list got off to a quiet start the Pied Wagtail count rose to 26 and in the early blizzard of gulls at least 210 Med. Gulls and 30 Commons were whirling about.