Friday, 12 November 2010

You know it’s windy when...

The Safari took Frank out before bed last night and by ‘eck was it windy! Even big Frank’s six stone (40kg) bulk, low centre of gravity and four leg drive staggered about like a drunkard as he was momentarily caught off balance by a severe gust.
We could taste the salt in the air and sand was stinging our eyes, the air was hazy with dust, sand and salt spray.
The 24 hour average here was 20m/s which is 45mph or Severe Gale 9 in old money. Top gust on our anemometer was just under 80 mph (over the hills not overly far to the north east 100mph was recorded, and that before the wind really picked up!) There were extended spells in the small hours when sustained wind speeds of 55mph were recorded, Storm 10. The weather buoy out by the rigs was showing 5+m waves.
On Patch 1 there was no sign of the Peregrine and given the wind direction we would have expected to have been able to see it if it was up there. An early Blackbird poked about on the grass verge on the way down the hill. A few lost fence panels lay forlornly on the ground in several of the gardens. We only did a short version of the walk – wonder why?
As we shut the door at Base Camp on the way out to work a Mistle Thrush shot out of the Rowan tree in next door’s front garden doing the ‘Merlin copying a Mistle Thrush swoop’ into the garden across the road whilst letting out the familiar rattle. Shame it wasn’t a Waxwing but an unusual record in itself as the tree had hardly a berry left on it.
At Patch 2 it wasn’t too bad, the wind had dropped to around 30mph but was still strong enough to blow water off the incoming waves over the top of the sand bank. Tried to video it for you as we’ve never seen that before but made a right pig’s ear of the filming...doh – you know the patterns sand makes as it is swirled by the wind across the beach as it dries? That is what the water was doing – just a skin of water being blown over the sand – impressive. Some of the uprights at the top end of the outfall pipe had large accumulations of sea foam stuck to them, again, unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a pic as we didn’t have suitable footwear and so were unable to venture on to the beach – never seen that before either.
Wildlife-wise there were only five Oystercatchers and three Redshanks on the beach. Over the sea we hoped we might find a Kittiwake, Little Gull or something else a bit different but the only bird we saw was a single Common Scoter.
At lunchtime conditions were a little better although the sea was still mountainous and foaming, some of the larger breakers were forming tube waves but we doubt if any surfers would be brave enough to even think about taking them on!
A large all dark skua sp carved its way north through the waves towards the horizon and a fair few Common Scoters were about. A flock of about a dozen was sat right in the middle of the tumult not far out but were really hard to see spending so little time at the top of the waves. Sighting of the day went to the cruciform shape of a shearwater sp following almost the same track as the skua a few minutes earlier. At that range it wasn’t possible to get anything on it and the light wasn’t brilliant either, so we couldn’t tell if it had pale underparts or not. Just have to hope it made its way past Heysham or Walney...There’s a fair chance we just missed out on two more species for the year!
There weren’t too many gulls about and one we watched go north close inshore had more than a hint of Yellow Legged Gull about it, there were no Herring Gulls about at the time to get a direct comparison but it did look very dark and bluey, trick of the light? A couple of Kittiwakes made their way southwards at range.
No sightings of the Pied Wagtail in the garden today but that’s hardly surprising because there is so much salt spray on the windows we can’t actually see through them.
Where to next? Could be a meander along the cliffs tomorrow morning but we’re far too late for a Whinchat – missed them altogether.
In the meantime let us know what whizzed past in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

That was some blow yesterday Dave :-) In answer to you Lapland question on my blog. It made the full ''tickety peuu'' sound. ( or was it just my wishful thinking!!) Shame I didn't catch a second call :-(

Monika said...

Great descriptions of the waves and sea foam Dave - I can picture it even without the video!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Sounds good to me Warren - more than I got on 'the one' that went over Base Camp

Twas a wild old night indeed Monika - daylight after work revealed the need for 10m of new fencing...doh £££££ or should that be $$$$$$$