The Safari was dog sitting today and had to have a day off work which worked out nicely as we got the last of our Christmas shopping and wrapping done give or take a few little bits n bobs. it also gave us the opportunity to twitch the Long Tailed Duck (204) that was released after being picked up exhausted by a wildfowler's dog. It spent quite some time feeding, or at least diving - don't know if it actually found anything in the boating lake but has a damaged wing so probably isn't going anywhere soon.
The grainy pictures show what a grey and miserable day it was and the bird itself is quite wary - well you would be if a dirty great hound had grabbed you in its jaws.
Also present were two female Goldeneyes and five Red Breasted Mergansers or at least there were five until CR pointed his long lens at them when three of them decided they were camera shy and flew off over the dunes to the sea.
With no real chance of a better pic of the Long Tailed Duck we took Frank for a mooch on the beach, as you can see it's a lot more shingly than our regular haunts a little to the south. We wander hither and thither across the various strandlines looking for whatever took our fancy. One thing we did note was there was a massive amount of plastic litter tangled up in the seaweed and 'free-floating' than there ever is on our beach - must be the way the currents run that dump it here...be far better if it wasn't thrown in the sea in the first place!!! Its everywhere and impossible to avoid in any wide angle view as in the pic of Kelp below - to Frank's right is one of the many onion/carrot bags we saw. Good piece of Kelp though - washed up from ??? in the recent storms. There is annoying raindrop on the lens from the very short light shower by the look of the pics.
Two young girls and their dad were doing a bit of beach-combing too, looking for shells - an excellent way to spend an afternoon with the kids even if the wind was a bit braw!!! We found a few small Native Oysters, all pretty old and worn, one was almost worn through and was translucent - this one was the youngest that we found and still has it's patterns and ridges quite well defined so was probably alive at sea until not long ago - don't really know how fast they wear down but we'd guess this one hasn't been dead more than five years possibly a lot less...could be horribly wrong though. There must be a small population still out there somewhere.
The tide line after storms is often a productive place to find dead birds and possibly one with a ring on but not today. We found the wings of an Oystercatcher and this bit of gull - gotta be Herring or Lesser Black Back - but which?
This is the dingy view across a chilly and desolate Morecambe Bay - circled, or more precisely ellipsed is Heysham nuclear power station home of the Heysham Bird Observatory .
Plenty of Oystercatchers were out on the mudflats along with a few Redshanks and were heard but didn't see Turnstones. With the cold wind we were feeling rather neche and didn't spend a lot of time checking over the beach. We were hoping we might bump in to a flock of Snow Buntings, not that any have been reported recently but with the weather over the last few days one never knows! There weren't any :-( so we've probably missed them for this year.
A last look at the Long Tailed Duck on the boating lake gave us a Little Grebe tucked tight under the far bank and well away from the radio controlled luxury cruiser yacht that was whizzing around and had flushed the last of the Red Breasted Mergansers and the Goldeneyes on to the larger lake. It would seem that the Long Tailed Duck can't fly; at first we couldn't find it and thought it might have flown off with the others but then we spotted it in the farthest corner well away from the disturbance.
Where to next? Back to work in the morning and hopefully Patch 2 will produce something interesting on our last visit of the year.
In the meantime let us know what a gundog has slobbered all over in your outback.