Monday, 24 January 2011

Another stunning wildlife spectacular.

The Safari’s pre-dawn Patch 1 visit produced little apart from the ‘lower’ of the two singing Song Thrushes, hope the ‘higher up the hill’ one hasn’t moved on. No Peregrines this morning.
No Patch 2 early morning visit but as we left Base Camp there was definitely more than the first rays of dawn in the eastern sky.
Patch 2 came up trumps at lunchtime though. We didn’t think we were going to be able to get out but fortunately we did. The tide was already well up and a few Redshanks could be heard wittering away while they roosted only feet away on the other side of the wall. We didn’t lean over for a count as that would have disturbed them. Several Black Headed Gulls hovered above the waves close to the wall and occasionally plunge-dived coming up with what looked like they have been Pipefish...didn’t know we got them along our coast but we didn’t have out bins and the gulls were too close to scope so we couldn’t really tell. (Editors note – a quick check here reveals Pipefish could well occur along our coast – something else to look for on our seashore safaris). A few Little Gulls were still about, they were very active dipping and darting in to the swell away towards the river mouth, perhaps seven or more in total.
Not a great lot else was happening to the south, a few Red Throated Divers were on the move here and there, small flocks of Common Scoters bounced around on the choppy sea and a couple of unidentified auks sped past. Best of all was a Great Crested Grebe going south in the distance accompanied by another smaller grebe, Slavonian perhaps – they were along way out.
Then looking to the right, northwards, we saw a Common Gull accompanied by a first winter Kittiwake, following them they led us to another Cormorant feeding frenzy. First we spotted a mass of wheeling gulls then noticed the black shapes in the water. What a lot there were easily 50 to start with. As we watched there was diving going on here there and everywhere, once again the Cormorants were strung out in a long narrow line several hundred yards long. More were joining all the time, flocks of between 10 and 20 arriving every few minutes, mostly from the south. Then a large flock of over 50 came in and a few minutes later a second flock of similar size – there were hundreds of them, one or two sporting their fresh white thigh patches, but not a single Shag was noted. The wheeling gulls were mostly Herring and Common Gulls and contrary to recent frenzies we’ve seen we only saw a single Great Black Backed Gull. At least six adult Kittiwakes were in the throng but with all the activity going on it was hard to keep track of them all. The Little Gulls didn’t appear.
There were a few Razorbills being attracted to the activity and checking them out as they came in we found a three Guillemots (96; P2 28), one of which over-shot the masses and landed quite close in giving good views.
Sadly there was no sign of any cetaceans; a couple of Bottle Nosed Dolphins would have gone down a treat; but no joy! Would have been great to get out on a boat with a video camera – it was a real wildlife spectacular and we wished we could have stayed out longer and enjoyed it for a few more minutes.
Our evening game of footy gave us a single Peregrine.
Remember the gull wing conundrum? Well we now have an answer from Mr Hans Larsson rather abnormal 'normal' 'argenteus' Herring Gull which is what we thought all along but were nowhere near certain. After it being on Bird Forum for 10 days with 325 views and counting and no responses we thought we'd better ask a real expert. Now Wifey has an invite to go photographing Baltic Gulls (L.f.fuscus) next time she's over in Stockholm!

Where to next? Better on Patch 1 and at least more of the same on Patch 2 hopefully.
In the meantime let us know what’s worth getting in frenzy over in your outback.


Stephen Dunstan said...

The blank message you got was supposed to tell you of 12 Little Gulls.

Monika said...

Very cool you got your ID confirmed by a gull expert, and funny that no one else would weight in on your forum post.

Only four more to 100!