Friday, 8 January 2010

Just a bit better than yesterday!

The safari was out on the frozen seawall as the sun eased its feeble wintery rays over the eastern horizon this morning. That was after we crawled to work at 1mph – the diesel in the Land Rover had waxed up in the freezing cold last night (minus 7C), must be a trace of biodiesel in there somewhere.
The tide was well out and still falling. Out on the beach there was a fair bit of activity. Several Black Head and Common Gulls were ‘paddling’ for worms. Four Redshanks were feeding in the runnels and a couple of Sanderlings sped along the tide line on their twinkling toes. Further down the beach in one of the runnels at the base of the seawall a wader about Redshank size called an unfamiliar twee-twee-twee, higher pitched and not as rich in timbre as Redshank, so we high tailed it a hundred yards further along the wall to try to get a better view than the silhouette we could see from where we were. But a numpty with a Jack Russell appeared and started going down the steps on to the beach right next to the bird before we could get on to it – it called again and was gone…any ideas anyone? Probably just a Redshank but I didn’t like its voice.
Back to a scan of the sea and a very pleasant surprise – 3 Goldeneyes flew past, quite unusual to see them here. On the beach we picked up a single Bar Tailed Godwit (69) – another good Patch 2 tick...followed by a Ringed Plover (70) and two Grey Plovers (71). A very productive quarter of an hour! But now we’ve got guilts over the Zoo’s Barnacle Geese – really can’t tick ‘em so back down to 70.
Back out at lunchtime and the sun was warm on my back making standing out for twenty minutes or so very comfortable. Very little on the beach as the tide was well out and there had been considerable disturbance from dog walkers during the morning. Noah was there overseeing proceedings...2 Sanderlings, 2 Redshanks, 2 Turnstones…but no sign of this morning’s mystery voice – probably just a Redshank with a high pitched voice.
Quite a few Oystercatchers but not so many gulls although the Black Headed Gulls were keeping up their foot-paddling routine in the runnels. A distant gull caught the eye for having much whiter than normal wingtips; on closer inspection it was only a Herring Gull, possibly of the Scandinavian subspecies. Impossible to tell the mantle colour in the strong light and no other Herring Gulls nearby to compare size with but the longest couple of primaries were almost as white as a second year Mediterranean Gull’s with black on white rather than white on black on the outer primaries.
Out at sea a flock of six pale bellied Brent Geese (71) flew up from the south, drew level with us and turned back, anti-social things! The islands at the north and south ends of the bay, Walney and Hilbre respectively, currently have flocks of pale bellied Brent Geese. In the far distance to the north west was the largest flock of Common Scoter we’ve seen for some time with probably in excess of 500 birds flying through the haze just above the horizon. Much closer in, not far beyond the low water mark, a Great Crested Grebe (72) repeatedly dived for fish.
A short but very rewarding few minutes birding…but still no marine mammals.
Where to next? An adventure in the dark…
In the meantime let us know how well your outback has performed today.
Pic of a Snipe and Short Eared Owl for you today – not this year’s ticks but from a long, long time ago.


Warren Baker said...

couple more for the year list then Dave.

Just snow and more snow here, with some ice thrown in!

Monika said...

Paddling gulls are so much fun to watch!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Agreed Monika - we call em all 'paddling Pete' no idea why..nuts I suppose