The Safari had a real humdinger of a morning. It started early with singing Blackbirds (plural!) as we closed the door and left for Patch 1 in the darkness. Several Robins were singing too, in fact almost all the Robins we heard were singing and not a lot of that ticking was heard. Rounding the corner approaching the Golden Triangle we heard a Song Thrush (84; P1 No 12) singing, which was good to hear. Thought we saw one yesterday on the path but it flushed and we didn’t get enough on it in the light from the street lamps for confirmation.
On the tower two Peregrines were still asleep and although the Magpies in Magpie Wood were jumpy we counted at least 45.
All of a sudden Frank’s nose began to twitch and he stopped and stared into the wood...a Fox (Mammal No 3) shot out of the far side and scampered as low to the ground as it could get, almost mustelid like – never seen that before) towards its earth in the Golden Triangle...not bad for starters but far better was to follow.
At Patch 2 the tide was just about to cover the last few square yards of beach and we had to quickly count about 140 Oystercatchers and nine Redshanks before they were flushed by the incoming sea. Nothing overly special in that and with no beach it was time to check the sea.
Lots of Common Scoters were on the move as usual and we soon found two Great Crested Grebes not far out, a third was seen later.
In the distance a Red Throated Diver flew south, followed by 10 more over then next 20 minutes or so.
A flock of three Common Scoters tazzed by fairly close in but the fourth bird with them was a female/immature Long Tailed Duck!!! (85) Not an easy bird to find along the Fylde Coast.
We were quite excited now as the gentle conditions and rising tide were bringing out some decent birds at last. Before too long a single male Velvet Scoter (86) flew past, its white secondaries being very different to the silvery shimmer of the Common Scoters' wings...again not an easy find along our coast. It was now not a really good morning but a really excellent morning – one of our best ever!!! Good things come to those that wait (and watch).
The duck theme continued when first seven then two more Shelducks (P2 No 29) bucked the trend and flew past northbound.
Way way out in the haze of the horizon we could see the dancing white specks of a flock of gulls, possibly Kittiwakes which appeared to be feeding on a large fish shoal. Every so often they would move a few hundred yards then return to the original place; they repeated this a few times as we strained our eye down the scope for a hint of a cetacean...would have bet a pound to a penny there were some there but we never saw anything...ohh for the gulls to have been half a mile nearer! Ahh well you can’t have everything!
This was one of those mornings when work was definitely a spoiler and before too long we had to go in and make a start on the day’s business.
Obviously we couldn’t wait to get out at lunchtime but once over the road and at the wall there wasn’t much going on. A few scans revealed only small numbers of Common Scoters and just one of the Great Crested Grebes. A Red Throated Diver headed south in the distance. A few scans later we picked up a distant Cormorant coming towards us, after a while it looked like a white breasted young bird but something about it wasn’t quite right. As it drew nearer it morphed into a Great Northern Diver (87) Holy cow ...what a day!!! When it was only about 800 yards out two Red Throated Divers flew over it giving remarkable contrast of size, bulk, wing beat pattern and all that jizz. It carried on towards us and pitched in only about 500 yards offshore between a flock of 14 Common Scoters to its left and five to its right. After settling briefly giving a reasonable broadside view it disappeared. We stared and stared and stared but never saw it again...where did it go? The scoters to either side of it bobbed about in their usual fashion appearing and disappearing up and down on the waves but the diver simply vanished which was a great shame as it was close enough to have given some really good views which we very rarely get from here, normally we only ever see a flying bird in the distance and then only once in a blue moon.
Then the rain started...well we had nearly 24 hours respite...if you ever see a bloke with long flowing robes and a big bushy beard in the hardware store buying a bucket of pitch and a big bag of nails start to worry...
Sadly not a single pic to corroborate all those stringy sightings :-(
Where to next? How on earth is tomorrow going to compete with that little lot?
In the meantime let us know which pages of the field guide you no longer have need for in your outback.
We would have said 'fandabidozi' but with the recent revelations (you'll have to Google them) and the fact that Monika is still ahead of us we won't