Monday, 27 September 2010

The smell of autumn

The Safari was out on Patch 1 well before dawn and the first thing we noticed was that there were a lot of Robin’s in the gardens near Base Camp. We’d counted 14 before we got to the park and in there we had at least another 20 – 34 Robins in less than half an hour’s walk. No sign of the Peregrines this morning and we were too early for the Blackbirds – they were only just beginning to wake up as we were leaving!
As the title suggests there was the distinctive scent of damp fallen leaves in the cool air – very autumnal.
We had a late start at work so went down to the cliffs to see if we could chance on any vis mig taking place and finally nail that Whinchat. Before we got across the road we saw two guys in the car park opposite kitted out with bins and cameras – too late to let them know they could have parked for free but then we realised they weren’t birders – they were far, far more sadder than us – bus & coach twitchers! They proceeded to take photos of all the coaches in the car park, a white one, a red one and one with squiggly patterns on it that was getting most of their attention – at least birding has some ‘useful’ function at finish if conservation can be described as useful – we suspect that the big money guys would argue that it is useless and gets in the way of their profits.
The gentle northerly had a hint of west in it and there was a bit of cloud cover…pretty good conditions. We got very little. Walking along the top of Chat Alley it was soon evident that it was Dodo-like.
A Grey Wagtail went over and a few Pied Wagtails blogged about, all those heard we managed to see today and were all ID’d as Pieds…no albas today.
A Red Throated Diver went north very close to the water’s edge but still a long way off the cliffs on the low tide. Hundreds of gulls congregated in a little bay between two sand bars and with them were two male Eiders. Whilst watching them three Swallows shot by northwards. Later, at Pipit Slab, we had two more, or were they two of the three, who ever they were they were having a great time swooping up and down the slade and skimming the face of Pipit Slab. Meadow Pipits were very thin on the ground – or in the air – only one seen and just two others heard.
A group of gulls were pecking intently at something on the beach so we went to investigate and found it was a Bass that the fishermen had caught and thrown back. It must be very close to the minimum size of 14 inches (360mm) nose to tip of the tail fin; our foot is a foot long. Perhaps we shoulda taken it home there’s a decent bit of meat on it! Lovely blue sheen to the back too.

Finally we had a decent flock of 120 Pink Footed Geese coming in from the North West.
Lunchtime was a nightmare – the tram track is now uncrossable and we had to walk a good deal further to access the sea wall. The Long March has become the Very Long March! For all that exercise there wasn’t much reward. About 100 Common Scoters hithered and thithered and a fair few sat still on the sea. We watched one of the many Cormorants wash down a large meal judging by the lump in its throat. A Red Throated Diver sat quietly on the water a few hundred yards offshore and a flock of six Eiders flew past, as did a solitary Sandwich Tern. Worryingly we watched three pink turtle-throttling balloons drift past on the rising tide, looks like someone has had balloon race/release as part of their party – really wish they wouldn’t do that they all end up as litter, many in the sea where they are a nasty hazard to marine wildlife.
Not too far offshore was a first winter Razorbill which we unsuccessfully tried to turn into the Puffin we didn’t see from the ferry on Saturday. Other invisible birds on the wish list that day were Sabine’s Gull, Long Tailed Skua, Pomerine Skua, Storm Petrel, Leach’s Petrel (not for the Safari, for our companion), Velvet Scoter, Sooty Shearwater (loads in the North sea), Balearic Shearwater, and maybe a white winged gull too considering the northerlies but they just didn’t appear…maybe we should have ‘gone Dutch’ – Ivory Billed Woodpecker drumming from the Poplars at the edge of the polders!

Where to next? Probably not as exciting as this tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what you didn't see in your outback today.

1 comment:

cliff said...

That Bass is a beauty Dave, definitely looks good enough to eat.

Bus & Coach twitchers - chortle chortle.