This morning the safari set off for he coast on the off chance that there may be some (or a) Harbour Porpoises about as one (perhaps two) was seen a little to the south a couple of days ago. The sea was choppy and you wouldn't want it any rougher to stand a chance of seeing that little black fin, but worse than choppy was a sea mist with visibility down to no more than half a mile. We have seen them nearer than this but it doesn't help having most of the sea out of sight.
All we could muster was the usual gulls, plenty of Black Headed and Herring Gulls, a few Common Gulls and only two Lesser Black Backs, although many of he latter will have migrated south by now.
The old boating pool held a decent wader roost of about 200 Redshanks and 61 Turnstones. A Grey Wagtail flew in but landed out of sight. There is a colour ringing scheme on this species - see Heysham Bird Observatory blog on right for details.
A fly over Pied Wagtail and a solitary Meadow Pipit were all the cliffs could manage.
Later in the afternoon the safari managed a trip to the superb Marton Mere nature reserve. We arrived just as the sun was going down and the reeds on the far bank were glowing. There were reports of 6 Long Eared Owls, apparently not showing particularly well, a Peregrine Falcon and a Buzzard. We set up in position with some friends and waited to see if the Bittern was going to put in appearance. Conditions were perfect but the bird was a no show!
A Sparrowhawk came belting out of the bushes and veered past us at the last minute before swooping unannounced into the Feeding Station. A few small flocks of Starlings made their way to the coast but none decided to roost at the reserve, maybe that's why the Bittern didn't show; we have seen them trying to catch Starlings as they dive into the reed bed to roost.
There was good selection of waterfowl on the mere; something spooked about 200 Teal from the shelter of the reedbeds but scanning through them diligently revealed no American Green Winged Teal. There is one not far away at Marshside RSPB reserve on the other side of the river.
The temperature started to drop once the sun had set and the grass underfoot became crispy with frost. A chilly mist rose over the water. The photo below is an attempt to capture the ethereal essence of the evening.
The rangers have recently put up a new Barn Owl box and we hung around in the cold to see if any were about without success. While we were waiting a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead and then low across the fields nearby. We also heard a Little Owl 'peeeoooo-ing' in the distance, a few Snipe left the reserve for their nocturnal feeding areas in the fields and a lone Lapwing 'chewit-ed' in the darkness.
We left in the pitch black with ice starting to form on the windscreen of the Land Rover.
Where to next? Still need to catch up with those Waxwings; but there is an awful lot of Christmas shopping that needs attending to too.
In the meantime let us know what you have found in your tropical paradise or snowy waste or even windswept temperate area.