No sign of the Peregrine on the water tower over looking Patch 1 this morning and despite us walking a different (dry) route if he’d have been there we would have spotted him as the wind was in the north and he’d have been sitting on the sheltered south face of the tower illuminated in all his muscular glory by the glow from the street lights.
From Patch 2 this morning we could see that the Lake District fells have had a fair dusting of snow overnight.
The thick socks are on and any future visits to Patch 2 will have to be accompanied by a better pair of gloves!
But as entertaining as distant snow is it wasn’t as good as what was in front of us on the rising tide. As we approached our favoured watch point a Great Black Backed Gull sailed majestically along the top of the wall with only inches of clearance – jeez those guys a big and barrel-chested when seen close up - plenty powerrrr! Got the scope set up on the sea wall and within 30 seconds had dropped on to the sighting of the day – a Harbour Porpoise and quite close in too. Don’t think we would have seen it had it been further out as the rising tide pushing against the stiff NNW breeze had chopped the water up. A concentrated scan to the north following the direction of travel revealed nothing; didn’t see it again. Very much a very lucky looking in the right place at the right time sighting.
But all was not lost more was out there…a trio of Eiders, two males and a female, came in from the south which was going to be the pattern of the watch – everything was going northwards. The low early morning pink sunshine illuminated a gorgeous female Common Scoter, making her look a rich ‘rusty’ brown. A few yards beyond her a 1st winter Little Gull bounced over the choppy sea, nice to see they’re still about after last week’s splendiferous adult. Within a few minutes a Red Throated Diver motored north passing within a few feet of the gull. Looking to be going somewhere on a mission! By now the fingers were beginning to feel the effects of the wind chill but we stuck it out a couple more minutes and connected with a stunning Guillemot (Common Murre for our north American readers – I do wish you’d call stuff by its proper name – what’s all this Winter Wren and Parasitic Jaeger nonsense?) going north at close enough range to get an unusually good view for this species, not a distant ‘auk sp’ and certainly not stringable as a Little Auk. One of those would be very nice off this coast; we used to have a stuffed one on view in the centre at the nature reserve that was found on the beach locally many years ago – wonder if they still have it. A few Common Gulls were out amongst the white horses but somewhat surprisingly no common gulls were seen.
Enough was enough - the wind-chill on the fingers now said ten minutes out there was more than long enough and it was time to dash back in to the warmth of the office. Not a bad ten minutes at all…missed a Great Northern Diver at 08.00 by faffing around in the office too long before getting out on site though…that’ll teach me…
Out on Patch 2 at lunchtime in very crisp light – can even make out the two wind farms and almost see the party of Boy Scouts on the summit of the Old Man of Coniston - but very little to report wildlife-wise apart from a pair of Common Scoters sitting just behind the surf and 8 Sanderlings buzzing around just in front of it. My bogey, Velvet Scoter, is reported to have reached Rossall Point…its getting closer…
Where to next? Bloomfield Road for the big match…in a few minutes…UP THE ‘POOL!!!
In the meantime let us know if the snow is settling in your outback
PS. For those that like gruesome gore – if you’re wondering why I was going on about my hand yesterday this is a pic of my ‘good’ hand from not so long ago.