Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Are we feeling lucky?

The Safari was ‘lucky’ enough to get an extra Patch 2 visit at tea time yesterday – an evening meeting meant not going home so we had an extra half hour’s watch. Not a lot doing but a nice close pass from a Manx Shearwater with another ten or so doing the big dipper thing out on the horizon. Finally got home almost 14 hours after leaving the house.
Back on Patch 1 a little later than usual at 06.15; the Peregrine was back on its favoured ledge on the water tower. The park itself was a dead as the ‘proverbial’ apart from a Coal Tit calling from the central conifers, new in or the same one as the other day? (Have you seen the sick advert featuring a Dodo – should be banned!!!) No sign of the Great Spotted Woodpecker this morning but we don’t think it will have gone anywhere last night in the howling wind and lashing rain.
Under the trees we found this rather large mushroom, for comparison Frank's lead is 5 inches (12cm) in diameter.

Patch 2 gave us a Lesser Black backed Gull with shocking pink legs. There were seven ‘normal’ ones with a few Herring Gulls sat on the beach and just singles of Great Black Backed, Black Headed and Common Gulls. 47 Oystercatchers were there too.
Wat out over the rolling white horses a distant large dark bird had the hint of a Bonxie about it but it just wouldn’t turn into the light. While our interest was focused on that bird a small dark bird flipped over the breakers much closer in. Tracking quickly back to it we caught up with it again but only got the merest glimpse of its backside as it flipped over another wave, decidedly small and black(ish) but we couldn’t see/didn’t notice any white/pale on the rump…dunno what it was but too small for a Manxie. And what about the possible Bonxie? – lost in the oncoming downpour unfortunately.
No luck so far – and no visit to Patch 2 at lunchtime, errands had to be run.

This evening the lure of a Yankee gull proved irresistible and even before having so much as a cuppa we set off eastwards towards the blackening skies.

Arriving at the site we witnessed gull watchers heaven- a constant stream ofdistsnt white dots toing and froing from the watesr to the bank and back, with hundreds of others constantly streaming in from the surrounding countryside. nothing for it but to set the scope up and settle down to methodically work through them time and time again. What are we looking for? Well. somewhere in the pic, or the identical one that could have been taken either side of this melee of gulls, there might be a Ring Billed Gull - its just a matter of spot the odd one out.

So what did we see? 47 (today's magic number!) Tufted Ducks and 21 Goosanders were on the reservoir and there were some sizeable fish jumping too. Around and about were a dozen or so Swallows whizzing about our ears and the 'chizik' of Pied Wagtails were a constant accompaniment to our scanning.

What about the gulls? We've found out where all the juvenile Black Heads are, that's for sure, oodles of them! we also found a leucistic adult Black Head and two or maybe three juvenile Mediterranean Gulls, at long last we have ticked this particular age group! Plenty of Lesser Black Backs but only a handful of Herrings. Common Gulls were few in number but easy to pick out but sadly either the Ring Billed wasn't there or in the hour and a half of none-stop searching we somehow failed to spot it...darn, darn and double darn. It is ringed and the hope is that someone will get a good enough pic to be able to read the numbers and get some info about this bird. It looks like we'll have to wait for one to land on the beach at Patch 2! So far that is the 12th species we have dipped this year but it wasn't on the 'ought to see' or the 'might see' lists so would have been a bonus bird.

Where to next? Lets get back down to earth on the patches.

In the meantime let us know if you have got lucky and picked up any bonuses in your outback.

Last minute edit - - - just read this and this am thinking a possible ARRRRGGGHHHHHH - how unlucky could that be - par for the course for the Safari!!!

Double late edit - good things come to those who are unlucky at times - PATCH TICK at 11.00pm - out with Frank - GREENSHANK over (96)!!!!!! A large slug of Glenmorangie to celebrate we think.

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