Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A bit breezy

The Safari could just about make out a single Peregrine roosting on the tower in the half-light of pre-dawn this morning. A bit of a wind picked up over night and there were a noticeable number of leaves blowing around on the streets, it won’t be long before we’re able to count the Magpies in Magpie Wood again, that’s if they can stand the smell of rotting grass from the dump the landscape grass cutting man has made over the summer; Magpie Wood is only about 400sq metres in area and this chap’s pile covers almost 10% of the area of under-storey habitat – if anyone else had done it it would be classed as fly-tipping but no, apparently he’s got nowhere else to dump his cuttings and it’s too expensive to take them away for correct disposal so he empties his mower in the wood gradually smothering the ground flora with a gross morass of smelly, slimy rotting grass – yuk. So much for woodland being a more valuable habitat than close mown amenity grassland of little biological interest...just make sure the latter looks ‘nice’ and the sh*te is out of sight out of mind even if it does smell a bit.
A few Robins ‘tick’ed and a couple of Blackbirds ‘chuck’ed and that was about it for the rest of Patch 1.

Last night on Patch 2 we had a group down in near darkness exploring the rockpools. It was a late start as these sunset pics were taken before we set off to see what we could find.

As it was the tide had only just left the wall and the recent storms have scoured large areas at its base leaving deep wide runnels which severely hampered access to the rockpools. The darkness meant that three Green Shore Crabs were footling around on the beach. Plenty of Brown Shrimps found their way into the nets but only one very small Common Prawn, hiding amongst the shrimps was one of the largest Sand Gobies we’ve ever seen. Other than that we found a few of the regular shells before we were totally enveloped by the darkness. We’ve never done shell searches by torchlight before!
At Patch 2 the tide was dropping but most of the beach was still covered. A line of gulls stretched out along the water’s edge looking to see if anything tasty might appear, with them two Great Black Backed Gulls waited to steal someone else’s breakfast.
Out at sea the wind had made it very choppy with a lot of white horses, consequently the Common Scoters were harder to estimate today so we stuck with a conservative 300 or so, some of which were very close inshore while there was also plenty of to and fro movement out towards the horizon. Whilst trying to count some of the nearer flocks more accurately two Ringed Plovers flew past; the highlight of the session...big wow!
Not much better at lunchtime, the only real difference being that it was even windier and the sea was swathed in 2 metre+ waves tumbling all over each other. Bird-wise the two southerly Ringed Plovers were replaced by a single Red Breasted Merganser going north and the beach held two small Sandwich Tern roosts of 7 and 10 birds with another four being seen battling southwards a good way offshore. No obvious change in the Common Scoter numbers although the heavy sea was making them fly around a good bit, sadly deffo no Velvet Scoters seen with the closer Commons and nothing ‘exciting’ from the seabird pages of the field guide to trouble the notebook.
Hopefully the wind will remain fairly strong for another day or so and we might see some of the more exotic sea birds we missed last week.
Where to next? Patch 2 looks favourite.
In the meantime let us know what the you hope the wind will bring to your outback

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