But it was more like ‘trudging in the moonlight’ as the safari staggered the hill towards Patch 1 hunched against the rain. At least there was a bit of light from the moon as the clouds broke between downpours and in the gardens a couple of Robins twittered their melancholy winter song as we passed.
On the Patch nothing much was doing at all, somewhat disappointing as the moonlight made visibility OK. An almost total lack of Blackbirds and only a handful of Robins were heard. Better things were to come as Mr. Snuffly-nose crashed through the bushes after a scent of who-knows-what; almost immediately a Woodcock exploded out from beneath them and flew low but fast along the track in front of us. Nice one Frank, not that we should let him charge through the habitat flushing things willy-nilly, even if he was on your lead.
On the walk back we noticed a falcon sat on the ledge on the water tower. In the gloom it was a bit difficult to see exactly what it was especially after the late night Kestrel the other day. Getting closer it was obvious that it was too big and broad shouldered to be a Kestrel so a Peregrine it was. Unfortunately we didn’t have a look up there on last night’s late constitutional so don’t know if it roosted or bunked in during one of the torrential downpours that were rattling on the windows as it travelled by to wherever by moonlight.
Back at Base Camp we grabbed the camera and leaned out of the bedroom window for a shot.
Not brilliant – can you actually tell those few pixels behind the twigs are a bird, never mind a Peregrine? A better angle was had from the bathroom window. Not sure what the neighbours would think if they saw an arm holding a camera sticking out of the window adjacent to theirs!
As we drove to work it was still sat up there, master of all it surveyed, so naturally we stopped for some better shots.
After a couple of minutes it got bored of watching me taking its picture and did one, which was very nearly missed!
Still not brilliant pics but what do you expect at 07.40 on a gloomy November morning, surely not something that's gonna feature on Birdguides 'Photo of the month' page.
Out on Patch 2 there were squalls coming in every few minutes. A quick dodge between them revealed plenty of Scoters on the wing, with singles and small flocks going every which way, but still no sign of the odd one out. We stuck it out ‘til the next squall landed but to no avail. The multitude of Kittiwakes, Little Gulls, Great Northern Divers, Arctic Stukas etc that are being picked up at other watch points along the coast in the region don’t seem to be passing this part of the of coast. Maybe we need a few prayers to Neptune, or Rhiannon, the Welsh God of birds, (we can see the Welsh coast from patch 2 - on a clear day at least). A flock of around 100 Dunlin flew past and a good count of exactly 90 Oystercatchers were dodging the rising tide on our stretch of beach with a good few sat together a bit out of range for a proper count further to the south.
Lunchtime might be more interesting…we’re getting the feeling we’re like Reeves and Mortimer’s Otis and Marvin characters when we’re stood on the sea wall watching the Scoters goin’ out and the Scoters comin’ back in again…that’s enough musical connotations for one day…It WAS more interesting if only that it was the top of the tide and finding somewhere out of the worst of the spray was difficult. A Guillemot sat 100 yards offshore behind the biggest of the breakers and was joined by another. How do they find each other in a boiling melee like that? Skimming the waves is hardly flying at spotter-plane altitude. A Skua careened (what a lovely word – surprisingly spellchecker recognises it – but not Skua - go on ‘puter get your wobbly red line out; Skua - there I typed it again!) across the face of an incoming squall. It covered some considerable distance in the troughs and only showed above the waves for a blink at a time but I’m fairly confident it was an Arctic Skua (added to dictionary now, sick of those wobbly lines!). Certainly not chunky enough for a Great. The only distant gull was a big and muscly Great Black Backed not a preferred/wanted/rarer delicate Little Gull or Kittiwake. Better but not brilliant…I'll be well miffed if some lucky devil picks up a late Leach’s Petrel this arvo.
Where to next? Back to the sea wall to see if this 'improvement' continues I guess...or it might be somewhere else..1/2 a day off tomorrow for home improvements - see what the weather is doing.
In the meantime let us know if there have been improvements in your outback.