The Safari started out on Patch 1 with a pre-dawn count of 61 Magpies waiting for dawn in the upper branches of Magpie Wood. Round the corner the two Peregrines seen last night were still sat on their ledges. Only one of the possible three Song Thrushes was heard, the Golden Triangle bird being heard from Base Camp as we left. Plenty of Robins were singing but the Blackbirds weren’t, they were too busy feeding on the roadside verges...and where are the Mistle Thrushes – plenty about but shouldn’t we have heard them singing on the patch by now?
At Patch 2 the tide was at the wall so no beachy stuff to report. Out to sea, as the sun crept above the roof-tops behind us, the Common Scoters numbered around the 500 mark and were quite active. As we scanned we gave an inward silent shout of YES – GET IN and corresponding punch in the air as a male Velvet Scoter shot through the field of view nice and close in. We locked onto it like a surface to air missile and followed it for a few minutes as it headed north then north west as was lost in the swell. Excellent stuff – EASILY our best sighting of this species on the west coast – Crippling even! And only bettered by a flock(!) Of them at Spurn yonks ago.According to the 'Birds of Lancashire' there are approaching 30,000 Common Scoters out there but unknown numbers of Velvets, perhaps as few as fifty to a hundred, to give some indication for the reason for our excitement.
The only other (minor) excitement was caused by a male Eider going north.
The big question was could the lunchtime safari match up the high standard. It didn’t, plenty of Common Scoters still very close to the wall giving excellent views – if only the waves weren’t so big! (Can we have a Surf Scoter please - but having just said that we daren't claim one now!!!) Only two other species were noted, two Red Throated Divers flying northwards in perfect synchronisation and a Guillemot going the other way a long way out.
The sun had a bit of heat in it today, we could feel it through our woolly hat! If it’s supposed to insulative shouldn’t it keep environmental heat out as well as metabolic heat in? – So much for ‘Thinsulate’ – maybe that’s why we get cold ears when the wind blows...
Talking of wind we have just received some consultation documents for the proposed new wind farm extension offshore.- copies are available to view at work – But are wind farms good or bad for the environment – a report out recently suggested over 6 MILLION birds had been killed by turbines in Spain alone – hardly environmentally friendly! But what is the effect of offshore wind energy? It’s impossible to know if migrating birds collide with them as the carcasses will probably never be found. This new scheme could impact on the scoters, Whooper Swans, Pink Footed Geese and other species that use the coast as a fly-way all of those the UK has an international responsibility for as we harbour very significant proportions of their populations.
Beneath the waves there is the obvious but temporary construction noise but how loud is the operational noise and at what frequencies and how far does it travel and how does it compare to the ‘natural’ background noise? We’ve tried to find this info but never had any success – has anyone got any ideas where such info might reside?
There maybe benefits to the benthic habitat with the rocks put down to prevent scour providing habitat for new species – but these could have a negative effect on the existing community by either being predators or increasing the competition. One of the proposals is for fewer larger (7MW) turbines – these would have less effect on the sea bed community being fewer in number and more spread out so any negative effect from the new community around the anti-scour piles of rocks at the foot of each turbine would only be localised leaving far greater areas unaffected.
One good thing is that boats are excluded from the footprint so that there will be no disturbance or damage from fishing vessels and the area could become an extensive nursery area for many species of fish.
A trip to the big park after work in the late afternoon sunshine gave us a nice selection of waterfowl and woodland birds but no Nuthatch or Treecreeper for the year.
Coot - couldn't see any of KB's colour rings
The alarm calls of the smaller birds had us looking up expecting a Sparrowhawk but we were surprised to see this Kestrel glide through the trees and land; obviously looking down...perhaps for mice attracted to spilt bird-seed?
Not sure what the flower is. Anyone?
Renewable energy seems to be the only bit of the environment that our ‘Greenest Government Ever’ appears to understand – or do they all have shares in it????? – to the rest of us their only greeness is their naivety about the natural environment...what colour is ‘blatant disregard’?
Where to next? More of the same please but with some Little Gulls thrown in...
In the meantime let us know how renewable your environment is