Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Out of the ordinary

The Safari was out on Patch 1 for a good while this morning. The Robins are becoming more and more vocal and a couple of Wrens chuntered away to let the neighbours know they are still hiding in the undergrowth. A Sparrowhawk went over and flushed about 15 Magpies from the grass at the edge pf Magpie Wood. The remains of a Magpie that hadn't made a quick enough escape lay scattered a few yards away - not often we see Magpies being predated; wonder if it was the Sparrowhawk or the Peregrine that was the culprit - btw no Peregrines today...

As we turned into Base Camp's street there was a totally extraordinary commotion of Starlings - at least 50!!! Wow that's a lot for here, so much so it could be a street record, and some were even on the roof at Base Camp. Just as out off the ordinary were three (possibly more) House Sparrows in the hedge of the house on the corner, this is the nearest they've got to Base Camp all year. And whilst hanging the laundry out a Coal Tit was heard singing somewhere not too far away...all getting a bit strange now...

Later in the moring we were scuppered a bit; Wifey was off to work in London so we were home alone, but she didn't leave until it was too late to go to watch the rising tide at the estuary to check for Curlew Sandpipers, where one had been reported yesterday.

With quite a big tide we decided to have a bit of lunch then go and watch as it fell. We got there a bit too early and the road was flooded right across. Fortunately we were able to speak to some pedestrians who said it was safe to go round the corner to the car park so we inched our way slowly through the sea!

A Great Spotted Woodpecker 'chip'ed from the trees at the far end of the carf park and a couple of Goldfinches flitted around the Thistle heads. We watched about 50 Swallows hawking over the river as the tide started to ebb. Some skimmed low over the water for a drink, this water would be brackish but last week we saw them drinking sea water at Patch 2 - never knew they could do that. In the distance behind them a Kestrel hovered of what little of the marsh was left hoping to catch a vole or two flooded out of their usual hiding places. Feeding over the flooded marsh with five drake Mallards was an eclipse drake Pintail, our first of the autumn.

As the tide dropped a little mud was exposed and a few Black Headed Gulls dropped in with a handful of Redshanks. We walked upto the boat slipway where the Coastguard and Lifeboat were in action again - a yacht had run aground at the top of the tide after missing a channel and ending up stuck on the marsh.

The fields on the far side of the river held plenty of Lapwings and a few Curlews but the mud only had a couple of Curlews and a few gulls which included a couple of Great Black Backs and the tricky 'catch you unawares for a Yellow Legged Gull if your not concentrating' 3rd summer hybrid Herring Gull x Lesser Black Back.

Back at our original viewing point the tide had receded enough to allow about 30 Redshanks to feed on the mud and a Common Gull had joined the Black Heads. In amongst the Redshanks we noticed four small waders - all Dunlins today :( An 'interesting' looking juvenile Cormorant came and stood with the gulls, but we'll have to wait until we can dowload the pics to see how 'interesting' it actually was - and then only if they are clear enough as it was a bit distant and dark and trying to rain.

With no new year birds seen in August and only one day left we need to 'score' tomorrow if we are to keep ahead of Monika in our Year-list Challenge. Especially as we have possibly missed the opportunity to get a coupel or three summer visitors recently and she has gone on a trrip up-country where she may get a few species that don't occur on her local patches; think we'll both reach our target of 200 but which of us will be the eventual 'winner' is anyone's guess and at the moment my money's on Monika - there's confidence for you - NOT.

Where to next? At the moment its looking hopeful for the mothy but there could still be a bit of overnight rain so we'll have to check the forecast later on. Then later tomorrow there might be a mopping up safari...

In the meantiime let us know what's trying to sneak in to Base camp in your outback.

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