Friday, 12 March 2010

Too early, too late, too much north

The safari nearly succumbed to manflu yesterday! Wasn't quite sure we were gonna make it through the night to this morning - really felt like we were a gonner! Much better today - thanks. A longer Patch 1 early walk provided much needed fresh air and gave us a Kestrel, not common here anymore, a huge female Sparrowhawk, breeding nearby? - but no sign of the Peregrine. Our usual Song Thrush was going hell for leather and a Mistle Thrush seemed to be overwhelmed by it. just before we got back to Base Camp about 65 Pink Footed Geese went over along with wave after wave of Starlings but only in smallish flocks today, no mass aggregation.
Hossy appointment first thing to diccover that the surgeon will be wielding his weaponry just after Easter - could really interfere with migration time. But it's gotta be done - worst and most aggressive case of the condition he's seen in his worldwide travels - just knew we were good for something!
After the hossy the Land Rover had to go in to its hossy to get the split and leaky fuel lift pump fixed so we had an hour to kill without Frank. As the mechanic's place is just off the cliffs a walk northwards along the coast seemed the sensible thing to do on a nice sunny mid March morning. secretely we were hoping for something 'chatty'.
But by the time we got out it was probably too late in the day and although the wind was light it still had a lot of north in it. Probably too early by a week or ten days, but Wheatears have been seen along the North Wales coast this week.
So off we set cool but gentle breeze in our face and our first Coltsfoot flowers of the season were enjoying the sunshine. Once collected a gallon of these from an old railway siding and made a bucket of rather potent wine!
Big Bertha was over the shoulder and the little cheapo camera fits it just right - nice one ang good sunshine too. The tide was just past full and there was a good count of Redshanks roosting in the old boating pool, 195 of them but only 19 Turnstones. The only passerine seen on the whole walk was a Rock Pipit. By the top end of the walk we hadn't seen anything out at sea until we found a nice summer plumaged Great Crested Grebe, they'll soon be back on fresh water. A flock of around 500 Knot steamed southwards - yer going the wrong way Canada's over there...we pointed to the northwest. Two male Eiders did a brief fly past.
Time to turn back and inspect the fallen tide. Lots of gulls, almost all Herrings, only three Great Black Backs and hardly a Black Headed. Redshank numbers seemed to be greater than the roost count, maybe as many as double that but we didn't count them on the way back so hard to tell with any accuracy but 50+ were seen in the final pool. Similarly there were definitely more Turnstones, 28 in that last pool before headed off to get the Land Rover.
With time still to play with we went to the big park for a target species we haven't bumped in to yet.
Scanning through the gulls we found a Black Headed with a ring, but when we downloaded the photos we'd taken the wrong one! What a plonker. We did get the right bird in the end but couldn't read the damn thing the numbers were round the back. Awkward flippin' thing.
Other stuff on the lake included some gyrating Shovelers - doh they wouln't keep still...and a cracking Great Crested Grebe.
Still couldn't find our target and we started losing the light. We nearly tripped over this little chap - well not so little about the size of a duinner plate and by the looks of the mud on his eyes he's only just dug his way out of his hibernation burrow. Don't know what you think about Red Eared Terrapins being on the British list but York Groundsel certainly isn't after the only colony in the world was sprayed with council weedkiller a few short years after it was discovered - nice one - gone forever!

Sorry went a bit overboard on the grebe...

A last look at the gulls in the fading light gave us nothing out of the odinary - no way we could turn this in to a Ring Billed Gull.

Where to next? Could be a safari for some Waxwings at the weekend if they're still doing their shopping in Asda.

In the meantime let us know if spring has sprung in your outback yet.


cliff said...

Re "Sorry went a bit overboard on the grebe..."

For my money you can't go overboard on Grebe photos, especially coming into breeding plumage like this, a brillaint bird & one of my firm faves.

Terrific blog BTW Dave - great sightings & wondefully written. I stop off every evening for a read to help with winding down after another birdless day at work.


Cliff Raby
(just dodged man flu I note, a lucky escape, there's nothing worse)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Many thanks Cliff - please steer clear of the manflu its a b**ger.
Glad you like the rubbish wot I rite - sure someone else said that!

See you round sometime