Friday, 25 February 2011

Got a bit lazy.

The Safari opened the door to an almost tropical Patch 1 this morning with the digital mercury a tad over the 10ºC mark, not quite enough for evidence of global warming but 20 degrees warmer than a couple of months ago and only 20 degrees cooler than them rainforests of Borneo, or at least what’s left of them. A dramatic and disturbing loss since the safari was there in 2000!
Graphic from UNEP – legal stuff ...
Extent of deforestation in Borneo 1950-2005, and projection towards 2020. (2007). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 10:37, February 25, 2011 from

Blackbird song dominated Patch 1 this morning with several heard singing locally and others more distant competing with the pre –rush hour (now two hours) traffic and trains etc. Where are all the Dunnocks hiding, since we threatened to count them cos they were everywhere we’ve hardly heard a single one! No Peregrines this morning either, and the only Song Thrush was in the butterfly zone, hope they’ve not all moved through as several birders and bloggers have reported movements of winter thrushes in recent days.
There was the hint of a subtle rosy glow emanating from beneath the clouds on the horizon as we left Base Camp, consequently the Magpies were starting to rouse and bounce round the tree tops in Magpie Wood, judging from the chattering elsewhere some had already left the roost so regular morning counting may be coming to an end but we’ll still be able to do the late night count if Frank can be bothered to walk that far before bedtime – he didn’t last night! There was a lot of noise coming form the gull roost on the office block roof as well on the way back and we could see light from the street lamps catching the birds' undersides as they took to the air - unfortunately there is nowhere convenient to view this roost.
This morning’s Patch 2 safari was a breezy affair with a south-westerly picking up and blowing straight in our face. The tide wasn’t too far out and there were good numbers of gulls scrambling for the best position at the water’s edge. Unfortunately we were looking straight up their backsides! Not the best view in the world!!! We did manage to pick out a nice Scandinavian Herring Gull before moving along the wall to have a look at the northern part of the patch. Here the gulls were side on but there weren’t so many of them except for a flock higher up the beach right at the northern end and too far away to really do anything with. There were plenty of uncounted Oystercatchers, easily over 100 and at least 200 uncounted Sanderlings but we still haven’t find the first Ringed Plover of the year for Patch 2. Several uncounted Turnstones and Redshanks were in the runnel and walking up and down the wall.
Away over the southern border the beach was awash with Oystercatchers and just exactly how many gulls were there? There were three huge squabbles going on along the tide line with several thousand others resting on the sand higher up away from the water’s edge, all too far away to work but for anyone with time at the weekend it must be worth a walk down there to check em out, there’s got to be a few goodies to be gleaned from the masses. Low tide is around lunchtime so an early start would give the best of the light and have the gulls closer to shore. Sadly we won’t be able to indulge ourselves.
We did indulge ourselves at lunchtime and on reaching the wall was disappointed to see barely a bird but kite surfers (5), fishermen (2), dog walkers (3), grockles with pram (family of 5), courting couple (1 [= 2 people]) instead. The few gulls present didn’t present any ID difficulties although a 1st winter Lesser Black Back was the first we’ve noticed for while. That’s far from saying there haven’t been any.
Out at sea it was very grey and murky with a heavy chop, not much doing there apart from a few Common Scoters ‘dancing’ on the waves and a couple of Cormorants flying past.
Nothing for it but to have a look at the northern patch and see what if anything was happening there. As look would have it just one dog walker was seen leaving the beach and from the tracks in the sand there hadn’t been much beach activity that way during the morning.
Glad we did as on one sandbank there were about 100 Oystercatchers roosting and on the next one back about 200 Herring Gulls and a handful of Black Headed Gulls. Make that 199 argenteus Herring Gulls and one argentatus Herring Gull, which was very easy to pick out for a very refreshing change. At first we thought it was a Yellow Legged Gull as we could only see its darker back surrounded silvery argenteus Herrings as it slept in the middle of the flock but as the tide rose and disturbed them it’s true identity was revealed. Not sure if it was the same one as on the pre-work safari, it seemed darker but that could have been due to angles and light direction. One of these days we'll be close enough to get a pic.
Where to next? Not sure what the weekend will hold but Sunday is out due to family stuff.
In the meantime let us know what changed into what in your outback.

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