Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A very grey day today

The safari set out on Patch 1 in the darkness to the wistful tune of a Robin this morning. Round the corner another was singing, has there been a bit of pre-cold weather movement. It’s time to get on the patch proper particularly if it freezes up a bit later in the week. The advantage with hard frost is that Frank does come back soaking wet and needing drying off when we’re trying to get ready for work. So fingers crossed for some frost and the first full Patch 1 walk for a goodly while. Meanwhile we have written our first tentative enquiry to the water board about putting up a nest box for the Peregrine and received a tentatively positive response – so things are looking good. We have been on the internet and found a cracking box similarly sited on a very narrow ledge – on a power station in Australia. The only down side is that our Peregrine hasn’t been seen since the last time we saw him before the fog a few days ago…looks like he’s got himself lost! Please come back – we’ve got more letters to write.
Patch 2 was a gloomy affair this morning in the half light of dawn even though it was well after 8.30 when we eventually got out onto the sea wall. A male Eider was riding the gentle swell not too far out and two Great Crested Grebes fished beyond the low water mark. One was still sporting a fair bit of summer plumage. Nothing else of note in the good conditions. Later, at lunchtime, the conditions were even better, the flattest of lights, no waves, barely a swell, a light northerly wind but distinctly few birds and no mammals. A handful of Common Scoters bobbed about in small groups here and there and a flock of around 150 Pink Footed Geese winged south a good way out in the distance. The beach, however, was much livelier. Two Ringed Plovers tipped forwards closely investigating the sand at their feet, two Redshank waded about in a runnel, best of all were 28 Sanderlings scattered along the receding tide line. Judging by the lack of footprints the jogger that appeared in the distance was the first person on the beach after the tide. As he drew nearer the Sanderlings flocked closer together, eventually as he approached even closer they tighter and started to leg it down the beach in front of him looking like a mad bunch of clockwork toys having a race along the sand before they took to the air and flew off round the corner and out of sight. At close range in good light their plumage is a marvel of intricate beauty. Half a dozen Oystercatchers were all we could muster and where were the gulls – nothing close enough to give a good grilling, the few that were down the beach to the south were just silhouettes in the distance. Bumped into an old friend yesterday who has just been to Svalbard and seen rakes of good stuff, no Polar Bears but the Beluga probably made up for that. He told me he uploads his photos to Birdguides and I should take a look – well I did and spotted his Kittiwake from a trip to Yorkshire a few years ago with definitely un-black legs – as he say, anyone got any ideas? – Over to you North Americans…are they red enough for one of yours?
I’ve been bold enough to post a couple of DB’s spics he took several years ago on the nature reserve – great shots of a very difficult subject to find/observe/shoot – so don’t you dare nick ‘em!

Good job Stoats aren’t as big as dogs cos they’d be bringing down cart-horses – savage little characters they are; the safari hasn’t bumped into one for a long time now, unfortunately, as they always brighten an otherwise grey day.
Where to next? Back on Patch 1 – watch this space for news of more than enough Robins, a Wren or two and the odd Blackbird…may be even a Dunnock thrown in for good measure.
In the meantime let us know whether or not you’ve been able to get into your outback recently and if so what is the big deal there.


Warren Baker said...

No Song Thrushes singimg in the pre-dawn gloom on patch 1 yet Dave ?
PS well done with the PF nestbox efforts

Dave Barker said...

Hi Dave, Dave B here, almost forgot about the stoat picys. Actually watched it bring down the rabbit almost at my feet. Amazing thing was I remember the dog walker coming along an saying it was disgusting! Few coice words said (not offensive though)!
Apparently the kittiwake was not an american one poss slightly lucanistic?
See you again sometime.