So with a short hour or so while the Land Rover was in dock we set off along the beach looking down the strandline for Snowflakes – aka Snow Buntings –
one had been seen there on Christmas Eve so it/they could still be around and two were on the south side on 29th (possibly ‘ours’ moving over the river). The sea had been freezing as the tides came in and there was a little cliff of wave formed ice.
The last time I saw this was 1982/3 when I was a Ranger at Formby Point (on the south side) when it was much deeper, nearly half a metre thick! Wonder what it’s like there now, can’t quite see the beach there from Patch 2, just the tops of the dunes.
We headed off down the beach and soon found a black and white bird (Snow Buntings are actually more brown and white than black and white in their winter plumage) – a long dead Lesser Black Backed Gull, no legs = no rings. Several hundred yards further on we found another dead black and white bird – an immature Gannet,
(can't tick a dead thing) again no legs meant no rings. The huge numbers of dogs on the beach meant that if there were any Snow Buntings we’d probably be lucky to find them with all that disturbance. A third dead black and white bird was another Lesser Black Backed Gull – even less remained of this one than the first!
At last we came across some live birds and yes they were black and white – Pied Wagtails…four of them…doh.
Way out on the tide line, almost a mile from the dune edge where we were walking we got a year tick, number 65, a few Curlews in amongst well over a hundred Oystercatchers and a similar number of Sanderlings, one or two Redshanks were lurking in there too. Strangely a concerted scan of the sea, which was just about flat calm, revealed not a single Common Scoter…weird or what?...maybe tomorrow, when we will be back on the slightly more elevated Patch 2 and the tide will be a whole heap nearer!
Where to next? Back to the Patches proper tomorrow, although visits to Patch 1 will be in total darkness for some weeks yet. Patch 1’s Peregrine is still AWOL. But wait - late news - He's BACK on his ledge on the water tower tonight(66).
In the meantime let us know what’s missing but shouldn’t be from your outback list so far this January, or have you bumped into an unexpected bonus.