Friday, 27 August 2010

Wot? More wheatears?

The Safari didn't have a Patch 1 visit this morning - "what!, you cry - "you've missed a day!" We actually went a bit further afield as we have a day's leave today to make a long Holiday Weekend so we decided to give Chat Alley a stab. It was a just a bit too clear over night and as we arrived at 6.30 there was nothing going over in the flat calm but cool conditions (single figure centigrade cool, with a heavy dew, but no light Arabs). Fleetwood Birder, SE, a couple of miles to the north of us, might well have had a net full before we'd dragged ourselves and Frank out of our pits, always assuming he hasn't been thwarted by trespassing dog walkers flushing his birds again - bally eejits - get a dog - lose the ability to read a notice board/keep out sign in many cases it would seem!
Crossing the road on to the Prom footpath we soon had a Pied Wagtail calling as it passed overhead but nothing was moving as we looked down onto the rocks below. A scan of the flat, mirror calm, sea (why can't it be like that on National Whale and Dolphin Watch?) gave us small scattered flocks of Common Scoters and the pale chin of a Grey Seal glistened in the sunshine a good way out. The conditions were just about bob-on perfect for Harbour Porpoise spotting but we couldn't find any although the tide was well out and our research is showing that most sightings are and hour or so either side of high tide (but there could be a lot more observer effort at those times).
Chat Alley then started to produce the goods and live up to its name, two Wheatears hit the notebook, then another and another. But no Whinchat! A couple of Swallows buzzed the cliffs going northwards.
On the beach there were thousands of gulls, >95% Herring Gulls at a guess - we largely ignored them...what, can't believe we said that!!! Two Redshank were seen close to the sea wall.
A nicely silhouetted Carrion Crow warmed itself in the early morning sun on one of the Illumination's poles.
We went a wee bit further than normal passing over the top of an empty Pipit Slab. By the time we turned at our northernmost point we hadn't added to the four Wheatears nor had any other 'Connoisseur Migrants'.
The Penstone Rock is level with Pipit Slab and normally the turning point on our cliffs walk. Not sure what it is, a glacial eratic perhaps. It's at the end of Red Bank Road...weren't those soft cliffs great before all the concrete! The last pic shows the start of our walk, no it didn't take us over 70 years to walk the mile and a half there and back! This pic from later in the day is taken at around the same place as the old black n white one in the link.

And this one shows the rock hidden under the waves a few hours later, with the Lake District mountains/fells in the distance across the bay.
The walk back was long and quiet, our Wheatears had moved on. A third Redshank had joined the other two or had walked into view if it was hidden from us at the base of the seawall earlier. Taking Frank for a quick play on the beach gave us six Pied Wagtails (Albas?) going south closely followed by a seventh.
Climbing the steps back up onto the lower walkway we immediately saw a Wheatear on the path not five yards in front of us, one of the original four? Then another and the other two, we had our four in the notebook for the return journey and these continued to keep ahead of us. A minute or so later another overtook us landing on the rocks 20 yards beyond where we were stood. Hmmm, turning round we scanned the rocks and found another, now we're up to six! We climbed the steps to get back to roadway level and there on the top path was another, the seventh. Another scan looking downwards onto the rocks didn't give us any more nor anything else so seven it was - or was it 11? Seven will do nicely to keep Chat Alley's reputation intact.
An hour or so after getting back to Base Camp it started to cloud over, why could it have done that at about 05.45hrs?!
Oops the camera hit the floor with a thud, fortunately no serioius damage done, only a dent in the filters.
As alluded to earlier it did cloud over and it did rain heavily for an hour or more so we decided to get back out just incase anything had been dropped. The wind had swung round and was now coing off the sea but it was notherlyish when the rain started. We did the same walk as this morning and on the way out got four Wheatears but nothing else, certainly no Whinchats - do they actually exist? We checked each and every dead Dock stem, not even a Stonechat. On the way back we stayed on the high path and got a count of seven Wheatears, all of which we would think were different to this mornings seven as we saw none where they had accumulated at the south end of the 'patch', so we're claiming a minimum of 14 for the day.
Frank got his swim this afternoon.
Where to next? If the weather stays suitable we might get the moth trap out overnight for a birthday treat in the morning.
In the meantime let us know let us know if anything hit the floor with a thud in your outback.


Craig said...

Hi Dave...a few evenings ago i went for a bit of Barney twitching on the reserve (dipped out again).
Talking of dog walkers....on the reserve i saw about 6 individual people with their dogs but only one with their dog on lead despite the sign saying £500 fine for dogs off lead.

best wishes,

Warren Baker said...

Well done on the Wheatear Dave, Whincaht cant be far behind !

The only thing to hit the floor on my patch today was my Jaw!! I got the 100th species for the year - go see waht it was :-)

Amila Kanchana said...

Some beach,Davo,how beautiful!

cliff said...

Crikey, I'm glad no serious damage was done when you dropped your camera - phew!

As for the Whinchats, I don't recall ever having seen one in the UK, seen a few when on our hols in France though.