Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wot - no Slaty Backs?!?!

The Safari was out on Patch 1 after work yesterday and it was still light! So we decided on doing a full patch walk keeping Frank off the sodden footy field. We were surprised by little Blue playing King of the Castle – there were teeth and snarls aplenty coming from under the bushes at the top of the wall. Frank was taken aback but barking with a mouthful of football isn’t easy. If we’d have known he was going to be out video-mode on the camera would have been on stand-by. Worse was to happen – his gate was open and he charged out with 110% attitude. Frank, still ball in mouth, could do no more than turn away and fend him off with his ample rump. We’d swear the Blue bounced off the football during one of his full frontal attacks. But then it dawned on the little old fella that he was out in the street and his demeanour suddenly changed as if he realised ‘oh sh*t I’m off my territory’...and he was gone -back through the gate with his hackles up a last snarl of the teeth and a wag of his tail - - priceless. Frank just waddled onwards towards his game of footy.
The Magpies were beginning to assemble in magpie wood, there being about 30-40 of them bouncing around the tree tops and chattering away noisily. Also up there was a number of Woodpigeons, not counted but probably 15 -20. Going through the butterfly zone we did get a count of the Woodpigeons there as there were several perched around the scrub, 23 in all.
Frank played ball and was patted by a gaggle of teenagers who were having a loud swearing contest among themselves as those of a certain age have a yen to do. As we left the gang broke up and three of them followed us out of the park. At the tower we could see one of the Peregrines sitting on the ledge and pointed it out to them...disinterested wasn’t the word; they wondered how a Cheetah got up there - we’d told them the fastest animal on the planet was looking down at them! Never heard of Peregrines and birds obviously aren’t animals!
This morning Patch 1 was cold and wet and we did the ‘dry run’ with not a lot to report. Before we set off we could hear the lovely refrains of a Song Thrush singing somewhere in the distant darkness coming through the bedroom window. On route up the hill a couple of Blackbirds were starting their songs and the school’s Mistle Thrush could be heard, otherwise it was fairly quite. Good numbers of Starlings were seen coming from the roost this morning, several thousands heading out to the open countryside to the north east.
Patch 2 was busy busy busy though. The tide was well down and fortunately the bait diggers were on the far side of the outfall pipe and the birds were on our side – there were shed loads to go through. The light was awful, grey, misty and downright dingy, so much so that we could hardly see the sea. But count up we did. Sanderlings first, 79, not bad. Then Oystercatchers, at least 500 with more off-patch to the south in the gloom. Redshanks came in at a respectable 64 and just singles of Turnstone and Dunlin down there.
The gulls were ‘on the numerous side’, thousands of white/brown dots walking about at the water’s edge. We get slightly miffed when we read on various sites like here and here that they are disappointed to get what they call poor (= stonking) photographs of gulls in bad light at a range of 50-70 yards – they should try truly despicable light and a range of 500 – 700+ yards! So what did we find??? - - nowt that’s what – not even an argentatus Herring Gull and certainly nothing that looked anything like what they were looking at or PKs potential smithsonianus! In fact we could only pull out three Great Blackies of any note.
The lunchtime safari was again fraught with fog the visibility being no better and the tide was well up the wall. Just this side of the gloom three small flockettes of Common Scoters snoozed on the swell, the closest were near enough to be able to tell the males from the females but not so close as to see the yellow on the males’ bills.
The watching conditions were very mild and almost wind free so we could have comfortably stayed out for hours if there had been anything to see!
Details of the ringed Mediterranean Gull left leg white 3N92 were received from the Rangers. Initial investigations suggest it was ringed as a pullus somewhere in the Low Countries, full details to follow.
And finally some good news and a sigh of big relief, an Otter was seen by the Rangers in the small channel down to the left of the Container Hide at the nature reserve this arvo after the disturbing news at the weekend that one had recently been found dead at the side of a nearby road where a culvert passes underneath, this wasn’t confirmed as no carcass could be found. Today’s sighting was of an animal very much alive and well.
Where to next? More of the gloomy same...mist murk go away come again some other day!
In the meantime let us know if anything is roamin in the gloamin in your outback
Pictures? You want pictures? No chance in these awful conditions...


Stephen Dunstan said...

Is this the Med Gull I mentioned - white ring, moutling into full adult?

Where was the dead Otter. There was a dead Stoat on Mythop Road at the weekend.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

The 'possible' dead otter was on Mythop Rd by the drain that runs to below the mere's spillway. Hope that solves a mystery - not seen a stoat yet this year.
The med gull is very likely the same one, it was on Lawson's field.



Jonathan Scragg said...

Yes Stephen the Med Gull was the same one you mentioned, it was me that photographed it and showed it to the ranger who promptly rang you dave. Will be interesting to find out where it was ringed. Also great news about the Otter!

All the best

Stephen Dunstan said...

Chris B tells me the Med is a returning bird which was re-ringed at some point, which explains why I didn't recognise the sequence.