Thursday, 27 January 2011

Decent wader saves the day

The Safari has little to report form Patch 1 other than the now usual Song Thrush was singing from deep within the Golden Triangle, we’ve just about given up on the second one. No Peregrine on the ledge this morning, musta taken one look at Cliff yesterday and decided to keep well out of the way of his long lens.
In the park the only thing making itself known in the darkness was an early rising Collared Dove.
Arriving at work we think we may just have missed a Patch 2 mega...what looked suspiciously like a small heron was flying inland as we got out of the Land Rover, unfortunately it was still pitch black and the bird was by now well over 100 yards away...Little Egret?
We had to wait a while for it to get light before going out on Patch 2 proper; yesterday’s pleasant sunshine being replaced by thick cloud this morning. After yesterday’s successes and superb conditions we were looking forward to being able to give it a good hour today. Once at the wall it was obvious that the conditions weren’t so conducive to standing still and concentrating for long. A chilly offshore breeze and lack of sun meant it was flippin cold on the ‘ole kidleys’. The wind direction did ensure the sea was fairly calm though.
First job was to scope the water’s edge and check out the masses of gulls down there. As soon as we were in focus we had a Dunlin, a Patch 2 year tick (35). Panning to the right towards the outfall pipe another wader was seen, a Bar Tailed Godwit (101, 36) (now tied with January’s total for last year), always a welcome find on this stretch of beach. Things were looking up and not a mutt in sight! Now for the gulls...well we scanned left then we scanned right...and left again...and back to the right...over to the north side of the pipe...NOTHING!!! Well not nothing, but nothing out of the ordinary, not even anything that looked vaguely like an ‘argentatusHerring Gull. Best were a couple of Lesser Black Backs (none seen yesterday BTW) and a couple of Great Black Backs. There were very few Black Headed Gulls this morning but shed loads of Commons.
The Dunlin had disappeared but a small flock of no more than twenty Sanderlings were way down the south end of the Patch and it could well have been with them. A few Redshanks were scattered along the water’s edge and a few more near the pipe and in the runnel by the wall but by the time we’d resolved to count them a bait digger, complete with furry friend, had appeared and flushed everything.
Across the patch boundary to the south it was Oystercatcher City; at least a couple of thousand feeding across the wide expanse of beach, and probably an even greater number of gulls, all too far away to count or work through properly. Further down still was a mass of roosting Cormorants with others joining them from the sea all the time, impossible to guess the numbers but easily triple figures.
Out at sea the calm conditions enabled the Common Scoters to be seen and there were more than we’ve seen for a while, uncounted as still a bit choppy but somewhere in the order of 400 to 500 and still more flying around out towards the horizon. Plenty of Cormorants out there too, but no feeding activity. Today was the first day for a while we didn’t see any Red Throated Divers what so ever, although a massive total of three Great Crested Grebes made it into the note book.
The cold was beginning to strike through to our bones and a hot brew become irresistible cutting short what we had hoped would be a much longer session.
By lunchtime it was still cold, grey and generally pretty dismal, it is still midwinter so what do we expect?!
Mostly the beach was a birdless desert. The Sanderlings were counted this time, 47, and the Dunlin was still with them. A few LWH Gulls were down by the outfall pipe and scattered around the shore line but there wasn’t anything exceptional amongst them. The Lesser Black Back Gull numbers had halved, to one. About 50 Black Headed Gulls were sleeping in a shallow runnel, no Meds or Franklin's Gulls with them as usual.
Looking north to our subsidiary patch there was even less about. Out at sea nothing much was happening either, it seemed like our birding had just fizzled out into the greyness.
Still no Red Throated Divers and still not a sniff of any marine mammals!
On the way home we spotted the Peregrine, from a distance, whilst waiting in a queue of traffic. It was on its ledge enjoying a bit of late afternoon sunshime out of the biting easterly breeze.
Where to next? More of the same and maybe an early finish tomorrow arvo for having to work on Saturday morning - and the Ring Necked Duck has reappeared not too far away...
In the meantime let us know if its grey and dismal in your outback.

Note to anyone local – There will be a ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ at Kincraig Road Ecological Area & Lake aka Bispham Marsh this Saturday 10.00 – 11.00 See you there. Hope you’ll all have done your hour’s watch at home before then.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Just one more species to beat last years Jan total then Dave, Little Egret pehaps :-)

Yep it's still grey and dismall in my out back !!!