Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mild again

The Safari opened the door on a different world this morning, gone was the frost and crisp cold air, replaced by mild dark dank greyness...again. The southerly airflow was bringing the delicious chocolaty scents of Bourbon biscuits being baked at the nearby factory.
But the warmer temperature did have a positive effect on the birds as we could a hear the Song Thrush singing all the way from the Golden Triangle, the usual Robins were singing rather than ‘ticking’ today and a Blackbird was in fine voice too from one of the gardens on the other side of the road.
Overnight rain meant it was probably too wet for a full patch walk but we did the longer version of the shortened walk...if you see what we mean...Passing the Golden Triangle our ears were blasted by the Song Thrush; they need to be loud as even at that time of the morning, well before the rush hour, the traffic noise is annoyingly noticeable and makes hearing singing distant birds difficult...we don’t like it one bit but for wildlife trying to make themselves heard above that din must be a nightmare and could well have serious consequences for breeding success if females can’t hear the males calling properly.
Magpie Wood held a singing Robin, if he makes a nest we wonder if the landscape ‘gardener’ will bury it in slimy grass cuttings like he might have done to a Wren’s nest last year. From this bottom side we can’t see the roosting Magpies. Walking round a bit further we heard another Song Thrush singing from the entrance to the park – need to get in there soon to listen for the one at the top of the park...are there good if they were, the national population is rising after its dramatic fall to its low point in the early 90s.  Sadly the population graph does show that for every two Song Thrushes there were when the Safari started birding in the mid 60s there is only one now meaning possibly as many as 2 million of them have disappeared :-(
Under the glow of the streetlights we counted 56 Magpies and a Woodpigeon still snoozing the night away.
Back at base camp we didn’t hear yesterday’s nearby Song Thrush so could it have been the one from the Golden Triangle on a trip away from its normal song post or a different one moving through?
At Patch 2 the sea was shrouded in dense low drizzly cloud with barely any visibility. All the action was on the water’s edge which was creeping inexorably away from us exposing more beach and therefore food with each passing minute. A few gulls and Oystercatchers were picking at shells while 15 Sanderlings scampered around their feet. Four Redshanks made up the numbers.
By lunchtime the tide was at its lowest but disturbance was high. Today’s hominids included Cockle pickers, Mussel pickers on the outfall pipe, dog walkers and a metal detectorist. 19 Redshanks sat with a few Black Headed Gulls on the far side of a deep runnel half way down the beach but other than them there was only a scattering of Oystercatchers. At the furthest end of the pipe away from the pickers a 1st winter gull had us concentrating for a while. It’s most interesting feature was the obvious double wing bar and ‘finger nail-like’ markings on the tertials, nice ‘shawl’ too; but its head and bill didn’t point towards Caspian Gull, nor did it have anything other than normal length legs nor a saggy rear belly, the underwing was quite strongly marked and there was too much marking on the belly...just a slighly odd Herring Gull, or one with a smattering of Caspian Gull genes? The aggressive ‘Albatross’ pose at an approaching Oystercatcher was interesting too but it totally ignored the Turnstone almost under its feet.
A few yards offshore there was about 100 Common Scoters; near enough to tell there were no odd-balls with them rather than them being a collection of dots at enormous range.
With the conditions being quite pleasant it was disappointing to have to leave because there wasn’t really anything to see.
In other, slightly more random news – but still in Safariland – our Extreme Photographer (aka Extreme Mechanic for his sterling working getting the Land Rover through its MoT) was out at a local beauty spot last weekend and spotted a white headed Long Tailed Tit in the flock coming to the feeders at the carpark. By strange coincidence last night MG’s Birding Frontiers blog had news of another, this time in Yorkshire – Our Extreme Photographer/Mechanic had already decided to go for another look for ‘his’ some time later this week – weather permitting - hopefully he’ll re-find it and get some great pics (and video) for us to show you later. Talking of MG we were mortified to have to miss his talk last year organised by my mate AB for the Artery of Life project – who in their right mind would chose to go on holiday the very day one of the country’s leading laridophiles is doing an ID masterclass???
Where to next? More of the same but can we have something to look at please....
In the meantime let us know if there has been a mass evacuation in your outback.

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