The Safari opened the door to a real wintery scene this morning; a thin layer of snow coated the world outside. It hadn’t stopped the local Robins from singing nor the Blackbirds from clucking.
We didn’t go far choosing to dash back to base camp for a warming cuppa.
The dawn never really broke so we left the scope in the draw and headed out onto the beach with just the camera – and a big plaggy bag for any coal we might come across. In the gardens we spotted a real rarity...a Wren and then a second - yeah hey patch tick #73.
As we crossed the road we noticed a dark blob right on top of the Mirror Ball, with cold fingers we fumbled the camera out from under our jacket but it was playing up and wouldn’t turn on and when it did the lens wouldn’t zoom – darn it big style!!! The blob was a Carrion Crow which was ‘hitching a ride’ on the rotating sculpture. It sat there for two or three minutes while we cussed at the camera, as soon as the camera’s malfunction was over come and video mode chosen – yes...you’ve guessed it – the flamin bird flew...AAAARRGGGHHH possibly a photo/video opportunity of a lifetime lost...really hope this is a temporary malfunction as we could really do without having to dash out and get a new camera...been looking at this one but Wifey probably needs new jewellery more than we need a new camera
On the beach the tide had moved round a lot of the flotsam and jetsam on the strandline from yesterday and interesting finds proved harder to come by although we did pick up about 20lbs (10kg) of coal, or about two weeks worth of burning – great when it’s free. Much of it had been washed into the gap at the bottom of the steps along with hundreds of Pod Razors.
Musta been cold as there was snow lying on the beach - you'd have thought the salt would have melted it straight away.
Eventually we came across an only slightly damaged male Masked Crab, check out the length of those chelipeds!
There were shed loads of Common Sand Stars in the lowest ‘rockpools’ many were still alive but sadly they will probably succumb to the cold over the next few days as they will be unable to crawl back beyond the low water mark where the water temperature is more constant and a little warmer, currently 11° C
Snow showers continued intermittently all morning some of them heavy but it didn’t stick so no chance for Frank to play with a snowman...yet! No we didn’t make the cake, not that artistic...but we did try to get some arty-farty shots of the Mirror Ball with The Big One behind...could have done with a bit of sun rather than thick dark clouds.
No lunchtime safari as we had a site visit in the north of town to look at a site which is going to become a brand new woodland.
Due to being prompted by Stu the other day we stopped on the way at the memorial to the Policemen who lost their lives attempting a sea recue a few years go, 28 years ago to be precise. The sea is a dangerous place when it’s rough and yet people still play chicken with the waves or let their dogs run loose and at risk of being washed in despite all the warning notices. Even on lovely calm summer days the beach can be a dangerous place as the tide comes in behind you very quickly and cuts you off if you aren’t keeping a close eye on what’s happening around you; some of the gullies are deep enough to be over head height!.
Thankfully the snow and rain had stopped and it turned in to a bright and sunny afternoon – just right for a traipse round a soggy field.
The plans look good with a nice mix of tree and shrub species and with it being so close to the coast it should pull in some interesting migrants as it matures. The site already has a few little copses but they seem to attract little other than the local Goldfinches and House Sparrows, there is a reasonable population of the latter (for the 21st C at least). Over the years we’ve seen a handful of grounded Meadow Pipits there but nothing to set the pulse racing. The majority of the existing trees on site are Blackthorn bushes – hence the sparrow roost – and Alders, both native and Italian (don’t know why they were chosen), which are currently showing their catkins.
While we were there a medium sized slender winged raptor flew over the site heading inland, it was a bit too far away and we had no bins with us – at a guess Short Eared Owl would be top of the list of possible suspects.
A wet walk across the low-lying central section revealed our wellies have a hole to let the water out if it should go over the top – soggy freezing cold feet...not pleasant...but we did come across this piece of wood, practically tripped over it hidden in the grass, which we assume is an ancient piece of Bog Oak, probably not oak at all but that’s what it gets called generically. The area probably hasn’t been wooded with large trees for many centuries. This one is about a foot in diameter and far thicker than any in the current plantations.
On the drive back to the office we had a txt from AB who was still there saying a male Kestrel had put in an appearance.Where to next? Alas more Christmas shopping rather than safari-ing is likely.
In the meantime let us know how white it got in your outback.
How's this for a bit of fun - a Frank and snowman cake brilliantly made by a good friend of ours - too good to eat?