Monday, 30 August 2010

Quite a lot about not a lot

The Safari was out before the sun peeked over the eastern fells but it was just too clear for many migrants to have plummeted to earth overnight on Patch 1 or along Chat Alley. Having said that there was a Robin tic-ing in one garden and another singing from a garden down a side street for the first time on Patch 1 and the little park by which we leave the Land Rover for the cliff top walk had at least two Dunnocks calling. It was, however, crystal clear with views all around the bay. This early morning Wheatear was stonkingly bright, Greenland?, but wouldn't allow a close approach to snap him in all his glory.
Looking towards town and beyond you can see the Welsh hills of Snowdonia just above the deck of the pier. The cliffs were notable for having two Rock Hyraxes running about over their bare slopes - well they were Rabbits really, but there's no harm reminiscing about long past days in the Sinai Desert.
Three single Pied Wagtails went over and a true sign of autumn, a Meadow Pipit.
Looking out to the north west we could see the Isle of Man over the Penny Stone (more of which later). You won't be able to see it on the photo but through bins it was a clear as a bell. On the pic you can just about make out some thin cloud (between the arrows) that was sitting over the high ground. It's 90 miles (145km) away.
Northwards the Lake District hills were so clear that we could almost make out the sheep! Circled is our new friend the Penny Stone.
As for Wheatears we could only manage a grand total of four on the way out. not as many gulls on the beach as in recent visits and only a lone Great Black Back stood out from the Connoisseur Gulls today.
Just one Swallow hawked back and forth skimming the grass on the cliffs. A single Redshank was heard which reminds us we forgot to mention the 27 and 100+ Turnstones we saw on the wall of the boating pool over the high tide on the 27th.
The walk back only gave us three Wheatears, so a top tally of four for the day wasn't as many as hope for.
This Herring Gull made us snigger - you shouldn't really laugh at another's misfortune - it was collecting Mussels and flying up with them to drop onto the concrete. This time it landed on the green slippery seaweedy slope and slithered to the bottom on its backside, then looked around to check if anyone had noticed!
Can't have hurt anything other than its pride as here it is searching for another Mussel.
A further three Pied Wagtails flew over and then the best/strangest sighting of the morning. Checking the higher ground for chats we somehow disturbed a Sparrowhawk from the long grass way above our heads. now was this a migrant or a local looking for tired migrants - which ever it was it flushed the third and final Wheatear of the walk back.
A quick play on the beach with Frank gave us a few Compass Jellyfish and a masses of Hornwort washed up on the sand .
After brekkie we set off for the nature reserve in bright sunshine and calm conditions. Lots of butterflies and good to see the most common by far was Small Tortoiseshell, and slightly disappointingly we couldn't find a Wall.
The local farmer was making hay while the sun shone - actually he was harvesting his Barley, not making hay. if this field is left fallow over the winter the spilt grain and weed seeds will be a useful source of food.
At the first hide we noted a Reed Warbler hopping about and a Sparrowhawk dashing over the tops of the reeds. Waterfowl included a Little Grebe, always nice to find these days, at least 12 Shoveler and 16 Teal, with 4 Gadwall thrown in for good measure. Didn't count the Tufted Ducks or Pochards but by the duck feeding area we noted 67 Coots, most were in the water bloated by the weekend's bread-fest so we couldn't check to see if any were ringed.
An unseen Curlew called from somewhere and a Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler hweeted from the bushes near where we parked. Later, from another hide, we would see a Chiffchaff leave the reedbed. As for other passerines only a Blue Tit and a couple of Reed Buntings were obvious.
Three Snipe were on the scrape and probably the same female Sparrowhawk whizzed past. Dragonfly action was good with Brown Hawkers, Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters are showing really well, the latter two also seen in tandem. The summer sun was making them too lively to consider sitting for their portraits to be taken.
Then all the gulls got up with a wall of sound. Dashing out of the hide we scanned for the Osprey/(Honey) Buzzard/Marsh Harrier/Goshawk and found a very high soaring Sparrowhawk!
Nice plants included the usual clump of Purple Loosestrife which hasn't changed in size in 20 years and just one flower of Soapwort left, the others having gone to seed.
The Buddlieas by the Fylde Bird Club Hide were their usual butterfly many did we manage to get in the pic? - there were plenty more fluttering around the half dozen or so bushes.
Try as we might we couldn't find the biggy, tried turning the Sparrowhawks into Goshawks, none of the Teal were Garganeys, the Little Grebe wasn't a Black Necked Grebe and this Grey Heron isn't a Purple Heron.
Then, just as we were about to leave we met up with MM who said he'd just had the MEGA, not a bird but a butterfly, a pristine Brimstone! Fortunately not needed for a site tick but well worth a look, they are as rare as rocking horse do-do in these parts. We went off to look for it but to no avail, we saw no butterflies on our mini expedition!
What we did find was a total ar*ehole getting his family to climb the fences and take the apples off the trees. We asked him not to and asked what would he do if someone climbed the fence into his garden and started removing his lawnmower etc - well wot a mouthful of abuse, some example to set your children! Apparently they were only having fun, so its OK to tell your kids stealing is fun now is it? And its not stealing if you haven't seen any signs - next time you're in the bank look round for the sign that says 'Please don't steal our money'. Just cos you didn't see the sign doesn't mean you can go ahead and do it.
So that was about it for the day's safari-ing - not bad but not massively brilliant.
going back to the Penny Stone here is some more information about the village that was lost to the storm Singleton Thorpe . The story sounds true enough and there seems to be evidence for houses etc but the geography is weird. The Fylde is a glacial plain so Singleton Thorpe may have been part of the end of the terminal moraine. The northern end of the coastline was sand dunes until Fleetwood was built. If it hadn't have been built the long shore drift would probably have developed a brackish lagoon behind a sand spit at some stage in the future. But the village would not have been viable on sand so must have been on clay. The name is a mixture of Viking and Saxon SingleTON (Saxon) Thorpe (Viking) as are many places in the Fylde, eg Kirk(Viking)HAM (Saxon) so it would seem that the Viking 'occupation' was friendly rather than violent as in other places in the country, possibly they farmed the marginal land the Saxons hadn't bothered with. The last northermost outpost of clay is Anchorsholme - a holme being a tying up place for boats, possibly belonging to a chap called Akker, or even Agger (as in Daniel Agger the Danish Liverpool player). Gynn, where we start the cliffs walk, is a Viking word for a cleft in the cliffs and that is where we park, it's still there but is it the same as it was 1500 years maps at that time but the early maps of Lancashire, showing the manor houses, 17th Century, shows the coast much as it is today - straight aligned south to north. The plot thickens - if we find out more we'll let you know.
Where to next? Back on the beach tomorrow morning with a gaggle of kids looking for the elusive Wendle Trap shell, we're on a stetch of beach we don't normally get to visit. Oh, and the Patchy stuff of course.
In the meantime let us know if your outback delivered thr goods today.


Monika said...

What no insect pics today??

Funny story about the gull.

cliff said...

An interesting read throughout Dave.
Seeing your photo of the Mere makes me long to go there, I tend to give it a miss over the busy summer months because of that pesky caravan park - mainly 'cos of running into too many scroats such as the apple pickers you describe in your post - but, the great unwashed should be buggering off back to whence they came now the kids are due back at school, so a trip to the Mere is now high on the agenda.