Monday, 12 December 2011

Short and sweet at the seaside

The Safari was able to get across the road as all that nasty fencing had been taken down over the weekend. We didn't have long but it was a fairly productive few minutes. The tide was rising quickly and most of the beach was already covered but where there was a strand-line of shellfish we noted a large number of Common Gulls and counted 207 Oystercatchers with many more further to the south. A few Sanderlings dodged in and out of the thousands, nay millions?, of wrecked shellfish. We haven't had a chance for a go see but through the scope we could pick out zillions of Pod Razors and Rayed Trough Shells in several lines stretching as far as the eye could see (with the scope) in both directions. There were so many Common Sand Stars that even the gulls appeared to be bored with them! A friend told us that she had been on the beach and seen loads of Brittle Stars and Sea Potatoes; at the weekend her hubby told her one of the anglers had caught (and released) a 2lb+ (1kg) Squid - a real rarity along this coast!
As the tide rose the Sanderlings got restless and a flock of over 30 'picked up' our few and sped off northwards to their favourite roost.
A Cormorant flew by, nothing unusual in that, but this one had the full white head and thigh patches already.
At sea we could only pick up a few dozen Common Scoters but above them we had five Kittiwakes
An even shorter lunchtime session was a little more productive. The wind had picked up a bit and roughened the sea even more and the light was worse but the numbers of scoters was now perhaps 3-400 with them moving about all over the place and a good few small flocks quite close inshore. Two Great Crested  Grebes kept appearing through the heavy swell looking for all the world like two periscopes, but we couldn't find anything else with the scoters...where is that Long Tailed Duck? All the while we were there there was a trickle of Kittiwakes going past, we didn't count them but we'd guess at somewhere between 20 and 30 as there was some doubling back going on, all bar two were adults.
Sticking with the gull theme we noted a couple of Great Black Back Gulls and made an effort to stick with them through the troughs as they can be good 'value'; at the end of last week one was seen to find, and promptly swallow, a Little Auk that had wandered too close to shore only a few miles up the coast...damn things eating a Lifer!...shouldn't be allowed!!!
Where to next? More ferocious wind is forecast for the next couple of days so Patch 2 will be our best bet for some decent birding.
In the meantime let us know what's swallowing the Lifers  in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

You reckon those Scoters will sit out this big blow we're meant to get on Friday Davo :-)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Yeah - easy they are a tough as old boots...provided there's no oil around. the only time we see them on the nature reserve - 1 mile inland - is when they're oiled.