No Patch 1 jaunt this morning; would you believe it Frank overslept!!! The glimpse of the tower’s ledges we get when driving up the hill to work gave us no Peregrines today.
At Patch 2 the tide was well out and the sea still horribly hazy. The stiffish southerly breeze gave a little chop and a few small white horses further out but just behind the surf it was almost flat calm and the Common Scoters were strung out nice and easy to count for a change. They were a bit mobile but we got a fairly accurate count of about 400. A Grey Seal was very close in, between the scoters and the beach. He seemed to be taking an interest in the bait digger ‘working’ at the water’s edge.
As we counted through the scoters a duck with a lot of white underneath and on the upper wing landed with a big splash and thrashed around a bit probably having a bit of a bathe. Once it had settled down we were watching a very nice, and very welcome, male Scaup (196); not seen a male for longer than we care to remember and the last Scaup we did see was a bit of a scratty 1st winter bird. It was however on our ‘list’ of birds we hoped to connect with before the end of the year and inch us slowly towards our target of 200. Still got three Yankee waders in the sights for the weekend too; two of which are ‘bonus’ birds the other already identified as a ‘possible target’. Once we’d reached 150 we drew up a list of what was left, we’ve got some but Cuckoo got away and the chance of Yellow Wagtail dwindles by the day although we note. Kingfishers have so far eluded us but they seem to be reappearing in their regular haunts and the Bearded Tits on the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB are always worth a look – love those moustachioed males...but why aren’t they called Moustached Tits as they have a much better Mexican style moustache (apologies for being so stereotypical to any Mexican readers) than the pathetic facial attire of the Moustached Warbler. Hawfinch is another one on the hope to get list and we should be recovered enough to go for to the north once the leaves have dropped and they become a bit easier to find...so all in all the 200 looks quite achievable but we’re far from convinced we can beat Monika, she’ll surely have a similar list of targets and hopefuls to keep us guessing until late afternoon on 31st December. The great thing with birding is you just never know what you’re going to find once you leave Base Camp and this morning’s Scaup illustrates the fact nicely.
While doing all that counting we noted several parties of bouncy passerines going over the sea and others, out of focus, closer over the beach through the scope’s field of view while overhead there was the almost constant calls of unknown numbers of Meadow Pipits; we’d guess at over a hundred seen and heard but only Meadow Pipits no other species were heard not even any ‘alba’ Wagtails.
No change on the rising tide by dinner time and there was still a reasonable amount of Meadow Pipit passage going on – all of it over the sea as none were heard overhead.
Apparently there is a Europe-wide vis mig event over the weekend for you all to join in (if you’re anywhere in Europe that is).
We might also be able to get the moth trap going too but some of the weather webbos are suggesting it may well rain overnight.
Where to next? Last weekend of freedom for a while - hope we're able to make the most of it.