Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Going for a name change

The Safari is going to swap names with a family member if he doesn’t mind. Pete is the name to have at the moment it would seem. Certainly our Pete doesn’t do to badly with Golden Orioles and Hawfinch in his garden and Griffon Vultures flying over on the odd occasion.
But it is the west coast UK ‘Pete’s’ who are creaming them in at the moment. Have a look at Pete K’s haul from Seaforth on the South-side yesterday

Lapland Bunting-4
Tree Sparrow-2
Great Spotted Woodpecker-1
Song Thrush-8
Meadow Pipit-342
Rock Pipit-5

Two Wheatears and a Stonechat were in the dunes at Crosby marina.

And here’s Pete M’s tally from Heysham, almost equidistant to the north.

Swallow - one S
Redwing - around 100 grounded in the NR office area first thing.
SongThrush - prominent first thing with at least 30 grounded around the NR office area, soon dispersed inland, 8 still Red Nab area midday
Fieldfare - 2 grounded briefly at Red Nab (first of autumn)
Blackbird - small numbers grounded - c25 around office area, 10 Red Nab area
Wheatear - 2 Ocean Edge
Firecrest - ringed this morning having been seen in the field just prior to entering the net set below the obs tower = 1CY female
Goldcrest - only seemed to be about 5 around reserve (3 ringed), one dog track and 4 Red Nab
Chiffchaff - 2-3 by office/below obs tower, one dog pond area, 3 Red Nab, one Middleton NR
Blackcap - 2 Red Nab
Reed Bunting – 7

Vis mig 0700-0930, after which intermittent
Tree Sparrow - 3+ (flock) south
Pink-footed Goose - 61 north
Swallow - 1 south
alba Wagtail - 61 SE
Siskin - c35 SE plus a couple of heard only registrations
Skylark - absolute minimum of 53 S but 12 of those registrations were of heard only (recorded as single)
Meadow Pipit - 164 SE
Grey Wagtail - 1 SE & one blogging
Chaffinch - 115 S/SW
Redwing - after initial departure of grounded birds, small numbers from the NE to SW totalling just 85 birds in dribs and drabs
Mistle Thrush - 7 SW, one E
Goldfinch - c25 S
Reed Bunting - 5 SE
Dunlin - flock of 9 S over NR (very unusual)
Carrion Crow - 5+2+5 S over NR with 220 southbound corvid spp, including flocks of 60+ & 50+ over Middleton NR, at least some of these being Carrion Crow
Coal Tit - flock of 23 SE over NR & at least 10 other birds in three groups.

What did we get? – Answer... nothing like that – admittedly they were out in the field longer than we were but even when we were out there was knob all going over...or was there?
Even more annoying is the fact that we can see Heysham power station from Patch 1 (13 miles/21km), when it is light of course, and the wind turbines on the dock wall at Seaforth are clearly visible from Patch 2 (24 miles/38km). So where do all the birds go?
This morning we had a little think and came up with a change of tactics – more of which later...
Last night out on Patch 1 we had as many Redwings as we had shooting stars – one of each.
Then this morning it was a full ‘normal’ Patch 1 walk in the pitch black. Crikey it was dark in the park, speak in rhyme all the time, will you risk it for a biscuit?, could only just see Frank even with his hi-vis jacket on at the end of his 5m lead. On the way up the hill we had nine Robins and four Blackbirds, interesting...hmmm...but in the dark park we only had another two Robins and a Blackbird, possibly too dark for them to be up and about but along the road the light from the streetlamps has got them moving. No Redwings going over at all this morning.
We arrived back at Base Camp as a flock of about 200 Jackdaws flew over towards the sea.
Pulling into the car park at work we saw three Blackbirds, one of which was getting serious grief from a Pied Wagtail, three Dunnocks and a flock of seven Greenfinches, quite a bit of avian activity even though there were four dog walkers in the grounds.
Out on Patch 2 we set in motion our change of tactics. Maybe we’re not getting all those migrants cos of the noise pollution we are subjected to. This morning there was a jack-hammer hammering, a compressor jet-blasting water, two or more helicopters idling at the nearby airport as well as the rush hour traffic going past just 25 yards behind us, not to mention the incessant confusing chittering from the local Starlings...deffo time for a rethink! Let’s try to avoid at least some of the noise by getting some distance out on the beach so we aimed for the outfall pipe to see if it would be suitable to perch on and have a listen.

It turned out not to be a suitable perch for the a*se; damp and cold (≤5ºC) with nowhere to rest the scope. However, the noise from the road was much reduced and we could barely hear the jack-hammer, the compressor was now inaudible but the helicopters were still quite loud but nowhere near as bad as on the sea wall – a definite improvement. Well it would have been if there were any birds to hear. We heard a couple of Meadow Pipits, a handful of alba’ Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Grey (=Black Bellied) Plover and saw a flock of around 175 Jackdaws with a couple of larger corvids, same flock as at Base Camp earlier?
On the beach a couple of Carrion Crows dismembered a dead Starling they had found.
Cursory glances at the sea revealed absolutely nothing. Further down the beach there was the same concentration of gulls but still too far away to pick the odd one out.
The early morning light was ideal for photography and we came over all arty-farty.

The Common Otter Shell is one of the biggest on the beach. Then there is the Long Shadowed Whelk.
A couple of tracks in the sand had us wondering what made them. The first we have no idea but have a good inkling what made the second which was at the top of the steps on the seawall itself. On our return to work we decided a tour of the grounds was in order but we needn’t have bothered as no birds were seen or heard; probably due to the half dozen dog walkers throwing balls etc for nine dogs.
The light at lunchtime was harsh looking south into the blistering sun, no doubt we’ll be wishing this would return after a few miserable cloudy grey days next week!
The sea was flat enough to walk on in slippers, why oh why can’t it be like this when we’re doing the cetacean watching events? Three Red Throated Divers were at varying distances and small but disparate flocks of Common Scoters numbered somewhere between 150 and 200. To the north three Guillemots were sat together reasonably close inshore and bizarrely were all having a good old bathe; now why would a diving bird need to wash surely they get wet enough doing their thing??? In the middle distance and fortunately beyond the eyes of any fishermen a Grey Seal surfaced chomping on a decent sized fish. During all this excitement bird of the day flitted past just below us on the seaward side of the wall – a Rock Pipit, the Safari’s first of the autumn, nice.
Where to next? Up and out early tomorrow perhaps as we have received some very exciting pics which once verified we'll be able to let you in on...its a goody but for the moment mum's the word!
In the meantime let us know what's giving you the miss in your outback.


Monika said...

I like the artsy shots!

Maybe they were oiling their feathers and not just bathing in the water?

Anonymous said...

"In the meantime let us know what's giving you the miss in your outback"

Everything, Dave. Starting to get really peeved off with it.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Know exactly where you comin from Dean.

That's indeed what they were up to Monika.



cliff said...

Like the arty shots of the beach Dave, very very nice.
Re. the tracks in the sand, the 1st one looks like a flash of lightning, dunno what either are but very well spotted.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Pretty sure the 2nd one is sea slater but the first I really have no idea!