The Safari woke up for the third morning in a row to a crisp heavy frost. Hardly last winter or even the winter before but for this 'winter' it’s as cold as it’s been so far.
A quick dash round the first half of Patch 1 only gave us a few Robins, ticking again now that its gone colder rather than singing like they were last week, three Blackbirds were arguing over first dibs on some crumbs thrown on the verge, Frank nearly had the final say! At the Golden Triangle the now regular Song Thrush was giving it plenty...always a pleasure to hear.
At Patch 2 the tide was well out but the beach was almost devoid of life, barely a gull to be seen. But we spotted a bit of movement by the side of the outfall pipe and counted a site record 92 Knot feeding away in the slimy oozy mud to be found there. A single Turnstone clambered about through the encrusting Mussels on the top of the pipe while with the Knot there was a lone Sanderling. Oystercatchers weren’t counted but there weren’t that many anyway.
At sea despite the excellent early morning visibility and light swell we only had a couple Great Crested Grebes and scattered small flocks of Common Scoters – pretty much an empty sea.
By lunchtime the tide was rising and the Knot’s feeding area was covered so they had left, nothing else was on the beach apart from dogs and their owners – by the look of the prints in the sand it had been a busy morning down there with bikes, horses, dogs etc etc all leaving their mark.
No sign of the wished for Ring Billed Gull that had followed the tide up yesterday further to the north – how we’d like to find one of those on Patch 2; it’s a long time since we’ve picked one out at the nature reserve too – again we were hoping the roost on the ice might have given us a slightly higher than 0.00000000001% chance – there’s one at the southern end of the South-side too, unless it was the same bird relocating a little northwards.
The glare of the sun on the water was too strong to safely look southwards at lunchtime but for the rest of the sea there were scattered flocks of Common Scoters everywhere, probably in excess of 500. Two Great Crested Grebes were close in a few hundred yards apart with three more together at some distance out. Four Red Throated Divers were seen – not the most inspiring session.
A fisherman arrived for his high tide session and told us that there were several Rays (Thornbacks?) washed up at our southern border; unfortunately the Land Rover was in dock today undergoing the first installment of its MoT repairs so we couldn’t nip down for a look-see. With a bit of luck they might not have been washed away too far by the tide and our marine biologist friend D will be able to investigate after work now that the nights are starting to draw out a bit...find out tomorrow morning if she's been successful.
Where to next? Have to make the most of the calm conditions at Patch 2 tomorrow as by Wednesday the weather is forecast to back to its normal wet and windy self.
In the meantime let us know what desperately hoped for species wasn’t seen in your outback but snuck in round the back a little ways off.