Thursday, 9 December 2010

It must be bust

The Safari woke up this morning and as with every morning we check the thermometer and then take a peek through the curtains to find out if whether or not we need the waterproofs for Frank’s Patch 1 walk.
This morning we had to give the thermometer a good shake and a sharp tap, you know like yer dad used to do with his index finger on the barometer every morning in the old days before setting off for work. There was summat serious up with it, the minus sign had disappeared!
Getting outside there was almost a hint of warmth in the air and like the other day the Blackbirds and Robins were quite vocal.
On our way past Magpie Wood we walked slowly along the edge of the trees and did our best to count the Magpies by the light from the street lamps; we got 64 but there could have easily been a few more tucked away deeper in the tree tops. Musta been a long cold night for them sat up there when it was -8; we like the Magpies and really felt sorry for them during the last week roosting up there exposed to the elements, they didn’t seem to huddle together either but remained pecking distance apart.
On reaching Patch 2 we were relieved to see that it hadn’t yet been disturbed and there was a fair selection of waders on the beach but only a few gulls. Almost straight away we realised that there were a lot of Dunlin, well a lot for us at least, we counted at least 60; as the tide rose they were being pushed off their favoured areas and moving around quite a bit making counting tricky. Sanderlings, as usual, out numbered them about two to one this morning with about 100(ish) counted there were a similar number of Oystercatchers. Turnstones were in short supply with only nine found on and around the outfall pipe although Redshanks made up for them with a reasonable count of 58.
There was a toss up for the Best Bird of the Morning; was it the simply massive count of four Grey Plovers - shame it was so dull and overcast as one was close enough to be a frame-filler - or was it the real recent rarity, an adult Lesser Black Backed Gull.
The sea wasn’t up to much; the Cormorant action had died down considerably although there were still a dozen or so mooching about much closer in this morning, fishing just behind the surf.
Out at sea the only real interest was the continuing good numbers of Great Black Backed Gulls with at least 12 being seen, mostly distant. A few small flocks of Common Scoters bobbed about here and there but we’d be surprised if they totalled more than 50 birds.
The lunchtime safari provided an unexpected spectacle. We were scanning the high tide for the good stuff, you know...the ‘invisible’ Harbour Porpoises, Bottle Nosed Dolphins (two off Hilbre Island last weekend), Great Northern Divers, Slavonian Grebes, Long Tailed Ducks, and Velvet Scoters etc when we became aware of the numbers of Cormorants that were passing us going south. In the absence of any of the aforementioned goodies we decided a Cormorant count was in order...we got 256 of the big black beasts fishing in a narrow line about a half to three quarters of a mile offshore. After thoroughly counting the Cormorants it was time to check for other piscivorous thingumies. We could only find two Red Throated Divers flying away at distance, three in the feeding flock and another in flight in the middle distance going south. A Great Crested Grebe sat with a small flock of Common Scoters (same lot as the other day?) while a second flew north beyond them.
All the while we could see, but didn’t count, more Cormorants coming in from the far north west. These added to the ones we first noted but didn’t count and any others that weren’t visible due to the bright sunlight on the water to the south meant our ‘total’ for the session will have been in excess of 300, possibly even 350; and not a single Shag! Once again there were about a dozen Great Black Backs in attendance and this time a few Herring Gulls had joined the throng too.
Good job most of the Cormorants were too far away for the fishermen, stood a few yards to our right, to see otherwise they’d have been blaming them for allsorts of fishy nonsense.
Where to next? Hopefully gonna spend a bit of tomorrow morning down on the beach; maybe we’ll have time to collect some of the smaller species of shells for a collage type photo as we did for the larger ones last week.
In the meantime let us know who’s catching all the fish in your outback.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

64 Magpies! One for sorrow.....Two for Joy.....