Patch 1 this morning was far too dark for the Robins to be up and at ‘em...only three counted on the way out and four on the way back. A Blackbird was heard too, but how many are there – it’s gonna be like this for a long while now! We were able to count one of the two Peregrines still fast asleep on its roosting ledge, the other one must have nicked off somewhere else by moonlight because just before Match Of The Day there were two up there. As an aside, a friend who was at THE match told us that ‘Pool (the Tangerine ‘Pool) let Liverpool off the hook in the first half by somehow failing to put FOUR past them with no real threat coming from the home team!
Patch 2 was far more interesting – it was light for a start which don’t half help! We decided to go north instead of south thinking the Long March might be a little shorter – if it is it’s only by a few yards. They’ve taken away the brew cabin opposite work and put back most of the pavement so hopefully the crossing will be open in the not too distant future.
It was light but the light was hazily awful at anything beyond the middle distance. At first glance not a lot was happening; the tide was up against the wall so no beach to scrutinise. Passing overhead there was a continual smattering of Meadow Pipits and ‘alba’ Wagtails. It was out at sea in the middle distance where the action was. A bait ball had formed and over it were about a hundred gulls with more joining from all directions. Before too long there must have been in the region of about 500. A Great Black Backed Gull sailed between us and them without showing any interest, similarly about 10 or a dozen auks of indeterminate species also went winging past. Three Cormorants came in from afar followed by a fourth a few minutes later. A first winter Gannet also circled around the throng. We hoped for a skua or two but none showed up. More than a skua we hoped a Bottle Nosed Dolphin might break the surface for only our second sighting from this part of the coast; especially as on more than one occasion huge numbers of gulls took to the air as one. No such luck, if they were there the swell was too high for us to have been able to pick one out unless it was porpoising or breached which, judging by the feeding behaviour we witnessed at bait balls last weekend from the ferry, was unlikely. A flock of 18 Kittiwakes broke away from the frenzy and drifted off high to the south. That seemed to signal the end of the major part of the activity as the remainder of the gulls broke in to small more dispersed groups. As we were deciding whether or not to chance another five minutes a pair of Eiders flew past southwards and once they had gone we called it a morning.
For our lunchtime safari down on Patch 2 we decided to ring the changes and head south – no work had been done on the crossing directly opposite during the morning...they obviously feel we need another week or more of exercise, musta seen our belly! The long Long March wasn’t really worth the effort; too many dog walkers had been on the beach so only a handful of gulls were knockin about. Out at sea it was pretty much dead; a few Common Scoters moving around in the distant heat haze the only other entry in the notebook was a male Grey Seal some distance out, not far off half way to Dublin! A Pied Wagtail played around on the beach just beyond the end of the sea wall and a Meadow Pipit was heard going over, probably would have been a fair number of passing things had we been able to stay out for a decent amount of time earlier on.
If any one is interested the full day's sightings from our ferry survey are now on the Marinelife News in the News & Sightings pages of MARINElife's website.
Also take a look at these crackin Fly Agaric fungi pics the Rangers sent us this morning. We aren’t 100% sure but we think these are the first found in Blackpool if not the whole of the Fylde – can anyone enlighten us?
After work we called in for a possible tick on the way back to Base Camp, one of those we should have got in the spring and are relieved has turned up now. After scanning through the best part of a 100 Teal in various degrees of cover we eventually picked out the Garganey (182) when it swam into open water. We got a good look at it before it did a flight round the pool, landed briefly took off again and disappeared back into the rushes - well chuffed. We like Garganey as in an early site report they were referred to by our typist as a Grey-garvey - the following year we did far more proof-reading!
Patch 1 with a naughty Frank, he dived straight in the pond he knows he's not allowed in, was productive. A nice fresh Parasol Mushroom was close to the fully open ones.
Next to a fully open one is our mystery fungus for Cliff's mate, Mushroom Dave to have a closer look at - we think it is an 'ordinary' Field Mushroom.
While we were photographing these mushies a Jay flew over, a good bird on the Patch, heading northwards with the wind. In it's usual place was one of the Peregrines.
Where to next? Hopefully the sea will be a bit flatter in the morning a bait ball will form and we'll get to see a dolphin or two - now that is ambitious
In the meantime let us know if the bait is balling up in your outback.