Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A pyrrhic victory

The Safari checked Base Camp’s pond last night and was pleased to find a large Frog, there should be spawn any day now but as usual the fish will probably eat it all before we can protect it from them.
Out on Patch 1 this morning it was frosty again but that didn’t stop many of the birds singing. The Magpies were rousing and we were flushing them as we walked alongside their wood so no effective count could be made. We didn’t count the singing Blackbirds either but suffice to say they’re beginning to find their collective voice. Once in the park the notebook came out, we could see the white of the paper but it was still too dark to see what we were writing on it! The usual Song Thrush was first bird jotted down, one of two, then the first of four Robins, four Wrens too and a Collared Dove were all noted as singing. As we were leaving a Sparrowhawk whipped past us in the half light.
From the Golden Triangle and neighbouring gardens could only muster a single Wren but two Dunnocks were an improvement on yesterday. Down the hill we had another single Wren...things are getting much livelier but where are the garden Robins?
Out on Patch 2 it was a beautiful, sunny, flat calm morning. A fair few Common Scoters were scattered about mostly to the south, probably about 500, much easier to see on the waveless sea. They were mostly distant but one male was close enough for the low morning sun to pick out the yellow on his bill. A group of two female and four male Eiders splashed about to the north and near them was a lone Great Crested Grebe, further scans to the south gave us a flock of three, many/most are now displaying back on their freshwater breeding grounds. A Red Breasted Merganser flew out to sea and landed in the distance; nice but far better was to come! We scanned several more times in the hope of picking up a Harbour Porpoise in the superb watching conditions but no luck. Not only that we have lost our ‘comrade in cetacean watching arms’ from the other offices nearby; he has been moved to a new office inland far to the east, so the cetacean observer effort has probably been reduced by over half for the future outside of bird migration times.
On our return into the office our boss always asks if we’ve seen anything better than he had – we never did – until today that is - - - a cracking male Velvet Scoter (115, P2 40)flew past not too far out heading south - - - double excellent!!! Only our second sighting of this species along this coast in 20 years of watching, although we have done much more watching from here in the last five years than the previous 15 put together.
On the wall a cluster of roosting Redshanks sleeping just above the gently lapping wavelets were too tightly packed to count. A short but good session.
By lunchtime it had warmed up a little and it felt more summery than springy – absolutely glorious out there. Unfortunately we couldn’t repeat the mega sighting of the morning session but numbers of Common Scoters seem quite high at the moment so it’s more than likely out there somewhere, numbers are high because probably because the conditions are allowing us to see them. Reasonable numbers of gulls were on the northern part of the patch and a concerted effort was rewarded with a first winter Yellow Legged Gull.
Out at sea looking in to the sun the Loch Ness Monster looked as though it was either feeding its young...
or chasing a porpoise.

One of these Starlings sat underneath the Mirror Ball lasers was singing as though it had come back from the tropics – it was making some bizarre noises in its song, maybe it had just been near the zoo over the winter.

But still no sea mammals despite the fine conditions for watching.
Where to next? More of the same and another goody please.
In the meantime let us know which mega appeared in your outback today.


Stu said...

Nice one, I've never seen a Velvet Scoter in the UK before...............

cliff said...

Love the Nessie photos Dave, I'm gonna think twice before paddling in those waters again.