The Safari was up and at em for very windy and shortened Patch 1 predawn walk this morning. The only things to show for our efforts were single Blackbird and Robin seen – not a sound was heard everything was very sensibly hunkered down.
Our hopes for a few year birds at Patch 2 were dashed cos when we got to the wall, some three hours after a low high tide, the water was still lapping at the base due to the very strong wind. All we could see out in the raging tempest were a few Common Scoters (62). Away to the south hundreds of gulls faced the wind on the bit of exposed beach there along with a handful of Oystercatchers. Those five minutes were enough watching – time for a warming cup of tea, with the expectation that low tide at lunchtime would be more interesting.
A quick nip to the shops for some hardware supplies for Base Camp had us whizzing up the road a couple of miles further to check out the five Tundra Bean Geese (63) again. There they were sat in the field at some not inconsiderable distance. Their friend the Pink Footed Goose was still with them and in the next field was a monster of a Peregrine sitting on a tussock looking around no doubt wondering who was going to be lunch. With little time to spare and not having the scope with us sadly all we could do was ‘tick n run’. The Bean Geese look settled in for the duration so hopefully we’ll be able to come back and have a proper leisurely gawp at them at a later date.
By lunchtime although it was low tide the storm surge meant that almost all the beach was still covered in water. The sea was heaped up like the Himalayas with spray breaking of the top of the breakers all over the shop and big dollops of foam coming across the beach and over the wall. All in all unpleasant!
We struggled to keep the scope still on our new, but seriously off-gassing plastic-chip beanbag; you could get high in the Land Rover after leaving it in there overnight!!! Just 47 Oystercatchers and three Sanderlings (64) were counted.
The usual gulls were all present with the strange exception of any Black Headed Gulls, won’t struggle for them later in the week though.
By the time the light faded and dusk fell Patch 2 had opened its account with a remarkably unimpressive massive score of nine species.
Nine species of birds in a day (nearer ten minutes more like, with a extra few peeks out of the windows at the birdless back garden) might not be too good but during the festive break our marine biologist friend found what we think is a new species of shell for the beach here, the Banded Venus Clausinella fasciata...one we’ll have to keep an eye out for when we are next able to get down on to the beach....it’s not all birds you know!
Back in the office we listened to the storm driven hail trying to break through the windows and longed to be still on holiday and sat back at home cozy warm close to Little Bertha or in a freezing cold draughty bird hide somewhere.
Where to next? More of the same gale force winds in the morning and with several Little Gulls being seen this afternoon from Chat Alley perhaps we should be a little braver and stick out the adverse conditions a little longer tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know where, given the choice, you would be sitting in your outback.
Below is a map of our recording area for the nature reserve, which actually only covers the area within the dashed line, although much of the rest is designated as a County Biological Heritage Site or is under review by the BEAT Naturewatch group as a candidate CBHS. To the east is the farmland known somewhat inspired name 'the East Fields'.
Mid afternoon the sun tried to come out between humongous hail showers so we went all arty-farty for five minutes with the mirror ball, while the kettle boiled, without daring to venture outside.
If we were any good at Photoshop or hat least had the patience we could probably get rid of the overhead cables and improve the pics a bit.