Sunday, 27 March 2011

The wonder stuff

The Safari watched The Wonders of the Universe programme last night and got to wondering...dangerous stuff!!!

If there are an estimated 100 billion stars in our Milky Way if only one in a thousand have planets (and it could be more than that the are they are finding them these days) and of those only one in thousand have planets suitable to support life that still leaves 100,000 living planets in our galaxy. The there are an estimated (how do they estimate numbers like these?) 200 billion other galaxies like ours...making 20 million billion other planets with life (2 x 10p16!!! - if the Safari's maths is right) When you get numbers this big chances are we are not alone...and then there's the 'other' universes...well there is no proof or disproof ours is the only one!
Back to reality a bit sharpish we think!
We wonder with all that other life out there why we need scumsh*tes that sit on the bench and chuck their litter down the cliff when a perfectly good bin is only a few paces away.

It was back to Chat Alley almost as early as the ringers get up! Very quiet for the most part, we expected a bit more in the way of passage and with a flat calm sea mammals were always on the cards. An 'alba' Wagtail went over which wasn't the precursor to the migration floodgates. Looking out to sea at regular intervals gave us nothing at all until a loose flock of five Sandwich Terns (135)went past. none migrants were represented by two House Sparrows in a small flock of Starlings. 51 Redshanks fed along the edge of a runnel while 14 Eiders, mostly males, loafed quietly on the gentle swell a couple of hundred yards offshore. Later two more males flew north. A Grey Seal very briefly broke the mammal's duck - not far out near the Eiders it bobbed up bottled for a minute or so and promptly disappeared never to be seen again unless it was the same one we saw at the end of the safari a mile or more to the south after about 10 minutes concentrated scanning that one too popped up close in shore - how do they sneak about so well? Three Sanderlings came and joined the Redshanks which by now were far more spread out as the dropping tide revealed more feeding opportunities. Out at sea two Red Throated Divers headed north the second about quarter of a mile behind the other. The call of a Turnstone had us looking down over the wall to see one fly past over the beach to join some of the Redshanks. We were out so early it was only on the return leg that we saw our first jogger and Meadow Pipit but had already been accosted twice by the dog wardens on their publicity drive. Another wagtail, this time definitely a Pied Wagtail flew past and then we spotted a Meadow Pipit on the wall with another different bird half hidden behind it - a Wheatear which obligingly flew over onto the cliffs. A couple more Meadow Pipits were recorded and then a third doing some song flights. Off shore a pair of Great Crested Grebes displayed to each other and later we were to find a second pair. Then it was time to look at some gulls...for a change??? This one is a first winter moulting in to first summer ie 2CY Herring Gull. With a tail and rump pattern like that it's never going to be an American Herring Gull.

a duuf shot of an adult Lesser Black Backed Gull.
Then we went down on the beach and got close to this monster.
After yesterday's first ever pic of a Great Black Backed Gull and only a duff one at that we thought we'd try harder and we're quite pleased with the results of which these two are the pick of about twenty decent shots.

Maybe we shouldn't have cropped off the reflection - might try it again later and show you tomorrow.

Here is the wall from the beach, earlier we'd kicked a small stone through one of those drainage ports and accidentally flushed 10 Turnstones, oops sorry guyus!

Not sure what the species of green seaweed is but the black rock the wall is built of is basalt.

Probably quarried from the now World Heritage Site, the Giant's Causway in Northern Ireland - we'll check for you.

Then the most wonderous thing happened, as we left the promeade and headed to the Land Rover we came across a female Pheasant...well never in our wildest dreams did we think we get this species on our Chat Alley list...

For those in the geographical know that is the Savoy Hotel in the background - where had that flown in from crossing a mile or more of inner city concrete?

Lastly we watched and lisstened to the gulls back at Base Camp hoping they'd find a raptor or two going over, they didn't but they did find Base Camp's first Heron of the year, which was followed by the first (belated) Dunnock. Later we watched a pair of Long Tailed Tits collecting cobwebs from around the garage windows which was nice.

These three Herring Gulls are different individuals from the office roof roost. Look closely at the wingtip patterns.

This pair were displaying/pair bonding very high up hence the rather duff shots but the bigger male has very pale wingtips in comparison to hhis much more normal mate.

Where to next? Back to the patches

In the meantime let us know what you're wondering about in your outback


cliff said...

Nice Wheatear photo Dave, I'm yet to see one this year. Mrs Pheasant is an extraordinary find, how bizarre. I seem to recall you got one at "Patch 1" t'other day too, we'll be getting 'em in the garden next :-). & on the subject of gardens, we've had Dunnocks all winter brightening up the garden with their song.

BTW - spotted you heading down the hill with Frank @ 16.15 today, what's he done to that poor ball.

Warren Baker said...

Not only do you hurt my head with Gull ID you make it boggle with science.

Well done on that Wheatear, nice and simple :-)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

That's his good ball, Cliff.

Nowt wrong with a bit of boggling as long as its not too often Warren



Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Holy makerel Cliff - just seen your pics from your trip out yesterday!!! Double WOW



Neil Spiers said...

Trust me to head to the wrong end of the promenade. Was at Starr Gate and got...70+ Oystercatchers a smattering of Gulls, something black and large we were unable to ID on the sea and a very stressed nesting Blackbird near one of the sculptures... she was not best pleased with a dog trying to get in the bushes.