Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A seaful of scoters

The Safari hit the sea wall as soon as it was light enough, and dry enough, this morning. The tide was dropping but hadn’t reached the bottom of the wall so there was no beach. A quick scan north and south gave us numerous Common Scoters in flight, just small flockettes but plenty of them and mostly at a range. However, much closer in at not far beyond the low water mark there was a huge long thin line of them, difficult to count in the choppy conditions but well over 200 in all probability. We looked hard and hopefully at them but couldn’t find anything other than Common Scoters. After a few minutes the tide had left the beach uncovered beyond our southern boundary and there was a veritable gull-fest sadly just all a bit too distant, especially in light of CB’s observation of a white winger ‘round the corner’ in the Ribble yesterday.
As we checked through the gulls as best we could we picked up a bird in flight going out of the river and into the grey gloom over the sea – our first impression was that it was something a little different as it had broad rounded wings. We watched it continue out to sea at a steady speed and height. By the time it was probably about two miles out it turned north, parallel to the coast, maintain its height and speed. In the dreadful light we hoped it would drop below the horizon and we could get something on it as it contrasted against the sea but no it just kept on going without so much as a glide until it turned north west out to sea again and was lost to view in the oncoming rain...but what was it?...Who a guess maybe a Marsh Harrier but there again may be not...and if it was what was it doing out there and where was it going – 70 miles to the Isle of Man or just a daytrip and a look-see round the bay? Whilst concentrating on that mystery bird we noticed yet more distant scoters on the move and picked up a single Red Throated Diver going south. We wisely decided to give up as the first spots of what turned into a very heavy shower landed.
No gull-fest on the beach at lunchtime, hardly any at all and certainly nothing pulse-quickening amongst them. Best of the bunch was a flock of 50 Sanderlings and a Dunlin. A dozen Redshanks and two Turnstones were easily outnumbered by an uncounted 100+ Oystercatchers.
At sea almost all the Common Scoters had drifted/flown out of view and there was nothing else out there.

We very much doubt if we’ll get a white Christmas this year as the forecast for the weekend is giving temperatures into the low double figures and well above average for the time of year. For Christmas Day our daily minimum is forecast to be a mind bendingly globally warmed 6.5ºC above the long term average –well over that 4ºC ‘limit’ that everyone seems to be scared of doing anything about, and Boxing day is forecast to be even warmer. It’s all a bit academic though as this year’s warmth is only cancelling out last year’s ridiculously cold spell. All will be revealed in 2030 when the figures for the current trio of decades, 2001 – 2030, can be compared with those from 1961 – 1990 & 1971 - which time if it has happened it’ll be far too late to stop it!

Where to next? Hols so anything could happen in the next coupla days...
In the meantime let us know what was where it perhaps shouldn't have been in your outback.
Not quite stop press but we just had a call from AB who was at the nature reserve watching 'our' Iceland Gull - confirmed at where does it hang out the rest of the time and is it going to a regular bather/loafer on the mere?

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

The efects of global warming will just be compounded by our ability to flood the planet with more offspring Davo - glad I wont be around in fifty years time :-) ( well, I hope not!!!)