Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Weekend round up

The safari was out at first light on Easter Sunday choosing the cliffs over Patch 1. Perhaps not a wise move as the forecast NW wind had materialised. Consequently the reputations of Zilch Alley (pic looking south along Zilch Alley towards the Boating Pool roosting Redshank zone and the town centre).and Nowt Slab are intact. (Pic is Nowt Slab looking north - note4 lack of pipits!!!)Nothing moving at all, nothing stationary even. Barely a bird to be seen apart from the local Starlings. Out over the sea was no better except for a flock of four Red Throated Divers heading in to the bay at some height. Not worth getting cold for!
There was a lot of litter blowing about, a shameful amount really. Some of it was obviously old and has been revealed by the vegetation dying down over the winter, some had been blown out of the bins by the stiff breeze and the remainder was newly cast aside by the great unwashed. I remember being taught to put litter in the bin or take it home when I was in school x years ago; where x is a large positive integer. I also know that over the last 20 years or so school children have been taught the same, so who is chucking all this mess around…do some children conveniently forget their lessons when they become adolescents. Worryingly we found the first helium balloon of the season…marine animal food…NOT.
Later on Easter Sunday was a visit to family on the South-side. Calling in at Marshside RSPB for an hour we had a reasonable tally of good birds. The Redshanks were coming in to their summer plumage. The Black Tailed Godwits were also moulting in to their striking summer garb. A pair of Avocets inspected an island as a potential nest site. They were joined by another two, after which there had been what appeared to be a change of males. The second bird attending the presumed female on the island was colour ringed on both legs – we wrote the combination in the sightings book but thinking back might have got the legs muxed ip…duhhh. A Snipe teetered from one gully to another looking as if it was desperately trying not to trip over its unfeasibly long bill.
A large number of Black Headed Gulls were sat in and around the pool but no sign of the pair of Mediterranean Gulls that had been about over the previous couple of days. The only gulls of note were three Great Black Backs, one of which had a tentative attempt at plucking a Mallard off the pool.
There were only a few Teal, nothing like the winter numbers, but both the Green Winged Teals had seemed to have left. Only a few Wigeon remained. The Starling flock was sizable and was attacked by a crackin’ male Merlin which flew right past the hide window. We called it out and a few seconds later some wag at the other end of the hide piped up “did everyone see that Sparrowhawk go past the window?” I don’t think so matey!
A Toad called repeatedly from under said window…the safari’s first of the year.
On the seaward side of the road we continued to ignore the multitude of Little Egrets and revelled in the acoustic gymnastics of the singing Skylarks.
On holiday Monday there was more socialising to do this time up towards the northern end of safari-land. Passing Leighton Moss RSPB we noted that the ever-so-long-staying Snow Geese weren’t in their normal field, so another dip then!!!...doh But if we had seen them and they were still there in late June chances are they could have been crossed off the list. As we passed along the road alongside the reedbed we watched a nice male Marsh Harrier quartering the reed bed – it's OK Wifey was driving.
After a rather tasty pub lunch we had a wander down the estuary where a Curlew was sitting on a mud bank. A little later a large Peregrine flew right over our heads. Other than that it was a fairly birdless day apart from the stunning male Bullfinch mentioned in yesterday’s post.
Catching up to today Patch 1 was uneventful. An overnight southerly breeze and reasonably clear skies promised a lot more than it delivered – just not enough east in it so not a migrant to be heard. Greenfinches and Dunnocks were the order of the day. A Heron was flushed from the central pond, can’t be many Frogs left in there now, unless it’s waiting for the arrival of the Toads.
The pre-work visit to Patch 2 revealed there had been a starfish and seashell wreck over the weekend and there were about 1000 gulls to search through. Almost all were Herring Gulls. A few Common Gulls and a single Great Black Back, but not one Lesser Black Backed Gull. Nothing else of any note at all, despite a religious scan of the bewildering array of plumages in various stages of moult on show we couldn’t find anything that that might suggest an argentatus Herring, Yellow Legged, Ring Billed, or a white winger, …disappointing really, with that number on the beach you’d have thought that there might have been something a little out of the ordinary.
A Gannet and three Sandwich Terns had had enough of our grotty spring and were happily heading back to the sunnier climes of African waters.
By lunchtime few gulls remained scouring the victims of the wreck but amongst them were a couple of Lesser Black Backs – too many people and their dogs on the beach. Another five Sandwich Terns were sat on by the water’s edge weighing up the pros and cons of heading back to Africa.
Where to next? More Patchy stuff, hopefully with some decent overnight conditions. Bizarrely Lancashire's earliest ever Reed Warbler has turned up at the nature reserve in these rather poor migration conditions.
In the meantime let us know if the wind is blowing the wrong way in your outback.

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