Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dartford in Essex

Dartford Warbler is something of a blot on my list. It's on there, Rame Head April 1984, but it was a fleeting view at best. The tail end of something diving into a gorse bush. Probably a Dartford Warbler. Possibly a Long-tailed tit, or maybe a Dunnock.

Blot no more! A morning visit to a frosty Rainham Marsh RSPB saw me finally getting decent views. One was following a Stonechat around which I gather is a frequent pairing, and for a skulking bird was being very showy. Sat out in leafless thorn bushes, perching on barbed wire, even singing. And a surprisingly nice bird to look at too - rusty red throat and underparts, a slight white moustache. Much nicer and easier than I thought it would be,

For a while it looked like that would be the only notable bird, but a Short-Eared Owl gave a cracking display near the rifle butts in the SW corner of the reserve. It even called a few times - rather like a deep-throated sneeze. Other birds worth a mention include 2 Marsh Harriers, a few Pintail, Kingfisher, 7 Stonechats, and the bizarre circumstance of having Jack Snipe in my year-list but not Common Snipe was ended when 7 Common Snipes flew over the frozen reserve.

Finally, some music. The death of David Bowie made me think of another star from glam rock - Marc Bolan, and I found this video from 1972 . It is worth looking at this with a perspective of 40 years of "progress". They look like they are playing our local village hall, but in fact it is Wembley Stadium. Just the four of them, and one (Mickey Finn) seems to do nothing other than bang a tambourine and try and get the audience going - a kind of proto-Bez. Various commentors note a marked resemblance to Mr Bean. Compared to the modern stadium concert with large screens, light shows, dancers, walkways into the audience and a host of backing musicians this show seems a complete shambles, a ludicrously naive thing to do. But there is, nevertheless, bags of star quality in Marc Bolan that seems to be missing from many of today's manufactured stars. Enjoy!


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