Thursday, 5 May 2011

Calm before and during the storm

The Safari went back for another listen to the ‘Ibe’ and to see if we could get a better view of the skulky little blighter at tea time yesterday, a few of the local birders were there but it had gone to ground not being seen or heard since lunchtime.
After a double tasty home-made Chinese (style) dinner it was out on the North Blackpool Pond Trail with a several other volunteers for an amphibian survey. We found several Smooth Newts and singles of Common Frog and Toad but no Great Crested Newts this time.
Small numbers of bats were seen a various locations along our route, one of which was almost definitely Daubenton’s Bat. Other inhabitants of the ponds included Great Diving Beetles, Water Scorpions, Backswimming Water Boatmen, some very large Ramshorn Snails and a selection of trundling Caddis Fly larvae as well as a few adults which were attracted to our lamps. Moths, however, were very few and far between.
After only a few hours asleep it was time to take Frank back to Patch 1 for his 06.00 safari. Once again several local birders had the place staked out and had already had the ‘Ibe’. It wasn’t long before we heard it call and once again we didn’t see it, we didn’t have our bins with us anyway. More importantly one of the Golden Triangle Song Thrushes had a beakful of baby food…good news indeed.
How many birders came to see it after that we don’t know and we wonder how many are hoping it sticks until the weekend when there could be a bit of a mass twitch – hope the local residents are ready with brews and hot pies cos the weather doesn’t look too good although it may prevent the little mite from shipping out overnight.
Out on patch 2 it was cold cloudy and misty. The tide was well out and down at the water’s edge we found a striking summer plumaged Grey Plover straight away – hard to miss – what a beauty!!! A further scan of the tide-line gave us three more, all still in winter plumage, a Knot and about a dozen Dunlin. Another flock of a dozen or more small waders landed with them which held two Sanderlings and brought the total of Dunlin to about 25, hard to tell as they were hidden down a dip in the sand in places. These along with the fifty Oystercatchers gave us a very acceptable wader morning.
Out at sea there was naff all at all other than a couple of Cormorants, more could be seen in the far distance roosting on an island sandbank way out towards the mouth of the river.
For our lunchtime safari it was still cold, cloudy and misty and it had started raining! The tide had reached the wall but was reasonably calm. Not a lot was about but as the tide rose further terns started to appear in some numbers away to the south. Almost all we probably Arctic Terns although a Sandwich Tern did fly past us headed towards them. After a few minutes we counted at least 50 in the misty haze. One behaving differently caught our eye; hovering, dropping hovering again before diving, surely a Little Tern. We kept watching it and it repeated the sequence a couple of times before an Arctic Tern passed close by giving us a good size comparison – the clincher – definitely a Little Tern (172). Unfortunately we didn’t see, or were unable to pick out any Black Terns and no skuas were ‘in attendance’. As unpleasant as it is for the terns it is something special to witness the flying skill and tenacity the skuas use as they harry down the terns to rob them of their catch.

An hour to kill before an evening meeting saw us at the nature reserve in torrential rain. A quick list...Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler at the little wetland on the walk in. 50+ House Martins and 5+ Swifts including a mating flight, Sedge Warbler, 2 Shelducks on the scrape, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting, Cetti's Warbler singing close by, Common Sandpiper bobbing away behind the Shelducks. A very white winged Hering Gull with only a small crescent of sub-terminal black looked very 'argentatus'y but the mantle was a bit on the pale side in the excellent viewing light for determining mantle shades. Also singing in the rain were a couple of Song Thrushes and a few Whitethroats and Blackcaps, even a rattling Lesser Whitethroat or two but NO Black Terns!
Where to next? More patchy stuff – will the ‘Ibe’ still be there to lure the twitchers – will the twitchers be tempted? Might even try for a pic – in the rain?
In the meantime let us know who’s wearing the most dapper suit in your outback.
On another note we can’t believe we find a real proper-job rarity, tell the world about it and suddenly plummet well below 400th in the Fatbirder rankings – what’s goin on??? Not that we’re competitive or anything...

1 comment:

Zac Hinchcliffe said...

Hi Dave!

The 2nd set of photos have not yet been confirmed, but after asking around, it seems that it does look very Iberian. I really want to see Chris Batty's photos as it would be nice to compare. I will update the blog if/when I find out.