Saturday, 17 April 2010

Zilch Alley 0 : Pipit Slab 1

The Safari was on the cliffs before 06.00 this morning, not quite fully light. we had a good snort of the morning air but still can't smell any Icelandic sulphur on the breeze, not that there was much wind at all the sea was like a mirror. It'll stay like that until I set foot on the gangplank of the ferry we are doing the Cetacean survery from next weekend. We can guarantee that by 10.00 next Saturday a howling south westerly will have picked up out of nowhere and last about 24 hours!
Not much to report from the walk, this fine, clear, windless weather is nigh on useless for dropping migrants. A meagre dribble of Meadow Pipits totalled only 11 seen during the whole walk. There were more as in the haze above us we could only pick out calling birds and there were probably more flying with those. An impressive 5,000+ Knot flew south low over the glassy surface of the sea. Along with the Meadow Pipits we only heard two 'alba' Wagtails, it was a very quiet morning.
The tide was well out but only three Redshanks were seen. The distinctive calls of Sandwich Terns could be heard over the distant water line. Two were involved in a game of chase.
A low flying blob turned in to a striking male Eider and as if out of nowhere three more joined him. Still we were keeping an eye on the rocks of Zilch Alley, hoping for a Ring Ouzel, Redstart or at least a Meadow Pipit but absolutely nothing - totally devoid of birds, not even the local Starlings had ventured over the edge yet. On the cliff top the Starlings were poking around on the grassy areas and one, sat on fence, made a fantastic impression of a Buzzard - is this the same bird we heard at Base Camp last week? If not where are they going to learn this call?
We reached the end of our cliff top walk and had one last scan to the north, a Great Crested Grebe was sat with two small birds. On more detailed examination they were discovered to be a pair of Teal, the same ones as yesterday? After a couple of minutes, during which time a flockette of four Linnets flew over, they made their way out of the water and on to the beach. Best thing so far this morning was the intense colour of the rising sun when we could see it between the houses.
Time to have a look at Pipit Slab. A cursory scan and nothing as usual, but walking down the slade a few yards brought the far end of the slab in to view AND SOME MOVEMENT - at long last! Not a Meadow Pipit but a stonkingly bright 'Greenland' Wheatear - YES!!! he was scuttling about on the slab look for, and finding, bugs hidden in the cracks between the stones and hiding in the few weeds that are poking out here and there. Unfortunately for you it was still too dark and he was too livevly to be able to get a photo but he was a crackin' big bright fella. Also on Pipit Slab were a pair of House Sparrows and a Herring Gull flew over with a mass of seaweed in its bill, someone is going to have a noisy few weeks ahead of them.
The honking of Canada Geese made us turn round and look to the south. Three of them looked inccongruous sat in a runnel way out on the beach. Half way in to our return journey we found another two sat far out on the beach.
The rest of the return jouney was even queiter than the outward walk, the dribble of Meadow Pipits had dwindled to a trickle, we heard another 'alba' Wagtail and four Goldfinches flew overhead. That was it. Not many gulls on the beach and scanning the sea revealed nothing else out there. You could say it was a bit disappointing but with the Wheatear on Pipit Slab it was far from that.
Our Extreme Photographer has been out on a Common Lizard quest along the dunes to the south and from the text messages it would appear that he has been rather successful - hope there's some good pics for you later.
A mid morning spell looking for raptors and any other vis mig from the garden at Base Camp was totally fruitless.
Where to next? Footy beckons imminently...
In the meantime let us know if you have had any success in your outback today.
This just shows you how different our coast can be within a few miles - PM quotes fog and frost; even before sun up no more than 15 miles to the south it was warm (7C) and only a light haze at about 50 feet above the cliffs

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

get in there Pipit Slab!

I had a Jat today making excellent Buzzard calls dave !!