Monday, 29 November 2010

Bird count, can’t count

The Safari headed out into a frightfully cold Patch 1 this morning, the mercury was still asleep showing a beyond cool -3.5°C, still it was warmer, or should that be less cold, than yesterday’s minimum of MINUS EIGHT (17.5°F) – how cold is that! Stupidly cold that how cold! If you’re reading this in Churchill, Fairbanks or Moscow ‘cold’ for us is normally about -1°C and -2°C is VERY cold.
The Park gave us nothing except our little Wren was up early again, well before the sun had started to lighten the dawn sky.
Patch 2 was interesting and despite the sub-zero temperature wasn’t too bad due to the lack of wind...that might change later in the week as sub-zero temperatures combine with 20mph winds to give a fierce wind-chill factor.
We set to work having a good blimp through the gulls, nothing over exciting. Almost all were Common and Herring Gulls this morning. A couple of the Herring Gulls had extensive white on the primaries suggesting a northern origin, another distinctive bird had a heavy ‘executioners hood’ similar in looks to this one at Seaforth yesterday but there’s no way we’re anywhere near good enough to suggest it might be from the other side of the Atlantic and no way could we see any of the necessary features from half way across the beach – interesting bird all the same and relatively easy to pick out from the thousands of others down at the water’s edge. Deffo photo time if it sticks around when the tide is up nearer the wall this week.
Wader counting gave us around 150 Sanderlings, with many more beyond our southern boundary which is where all but a few Oystercatchers were along with ‘thousands’ more gulls too.
Close up singles of Dunlin and Grey Plover were nice to see but only one Turnstone was disappointing, as were just eight Redshanks.
Out at sea the light and sea state were just about perfect but we couldn’t find any mammals. We couldn’t find much at! The monotony was relieved only by the distant appearance of a lone Red Throated Diver flying south across the mouth of the estuary.
Counting done we now wonder how accurate those figures are, obviously the singles should be OK but looking at other blogs over the weekend we noticed that FB had counted differently to us at Fleetwood Marine Lake, but he did get out of his car! And MW, too, had different counts to us at three locations we were there at almost the same times, think we were at Fleetwood an hour or so before him.
Here is each of our results.
See how hard this counting m’larky is!
At lunchtime Patch 2 was ruined by a woman who walked her dog and threw it a ball right along the water’s edge flushing everything in sight. Eventually the birds started to return as she passed, they can’t afford to waste the energy flying far at the moment. We did better than earlier with 175+ Sanderlings and a very high tally of Dunlin, 4! The Redshanks didn’t reappear and for some reason there weren’t any Oystercatchers to start with. We saw just a single Great Crested Grebe on the sea and struggled to find two Red Throated Divers. 14 Cormorants flew north but we saw no Common Scoters at all, not a single one! Interestingly a Slavonian Grebe has turned up at Walney; it’s only ten days ago we thought we might well have had one here...hmmm interesting but is the one on Pine Lake still there, is Pine Lake frozen solid?
Looks like we might be taking the Safari much further afield next year - into the wild woodlands of south west Western Australia no less! We will be taking small groups into the outback along 4WD tracks to look at Numbats, Woylies, Black Cockatoos and all the other fascinating wildlife this area has to offer; accommodation will be the luxury farmhouse at Maroo Wildlife Sanctuary. Fancy joining us? – See here for full details, dates, itinerary, prices etc.
Where to next? Australia here we come.
In the meantime let us know if there are any marsupials are lurking in your outback

3 comments:

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Our only marsupial is the opossum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opossum
They are nocturnal and seen mostly as road kill. I have had one show up in my breezeway. They have sparse hair, big teeth and poor eyesight and look like big mangy rats. Not very charming creatures but successful, nevertheless.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Dave - didn't realise oppossums were found so far north - are they native to the area or have they been intoduced if so whay?

Cheers

Davo

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Hi Davo. Apparently they were brought here on purpose by people from the East:
http://depts.washington.edu/natmap/maps/wa/mammals/WA_virginia_opossum.html
They don't seem to have a problem surviving in our climate.