The Safari was reading Dean’s escapades last night which included his first Frog of the year. He’s in the middle of the country and at high altitude so his success prompted us to head out to the garden to see if any were hopping around the edge of the pond – it was absolutely lashing it down so we didn’t get past the threshold of the back door!
Our routine was back to normal this morning, even if our coat was still sopping wet from taking Frank out not long after the ill-fated Frog hunt, and on leaving Base Camp in the cold (10C in the rain last night - 2C with frost settling on the grass at 06.00) pre-dawn we immediately heard the Song Thrush’s song being carried from the Golden Triangle on the gentle but chilly morning breeze.
Round the corner one of the Peregrines was still pushing out the zeds (zees for any American readers) on its ledge There were Robins aplenty singing from all points (must make a proper effort to count them soon) and a couple of Blackbirds were approaching full song.
Visibility on Patch 2 was excellent for a change. Out on the horizon there was a beautiful rainbow and we wrangled the little camera from our soggy pocket...it pulled a focussing hissy-fit so no pics for you to enjoy :-( not sure what went wrong but it didn’t seem to want to focus on ‘infinity’, or more likely didn’t ‘know’ what distance the object we were pointing it at was. Beneath the rainbow we reckon there were between 1000 – 1250 Common Scoters and a single Red Throated Diver were seen.
The sea was still a bit too lumpy to be able to pick out any Harbour Porpoises; we’d hoped to get one for the mammal year list before we came across the much more numerous, and far easier to spot, Grey Squirrel but it wasn’t to be as we saw one of the latter in the big park on Monday.
On the beach we noted three Knot feeding with the Oystercatchers at the side of the outfall pipe. Something made us look over to the other side of the pipe and we saw a fair few more. We started counting at the left-hand end of the flock and got to the mid 80s when something spooked them and far more than we were expecting got up and flew – at a guess over 500 all together...a good sized flock. A few Sanderlings were with them and as they all flew southwards past us the Sanderlings dropped on to the beach in front of us but the Knot kept going well past our southern border.
A scan through the 100 or so gulls kicking about didn’t give us anything out of the ordinary.
The wind had swung round and strengthened by lunchtime and now was coming at us off the sea bringing heavy wintery squalls. There was a plethora of white horses and some big rollers out towards the horizon. Out there too was a large swarm of diving gulls indicating a big bait ball but once again the sea conditions were such that we were never going to be able to see any cetaceans that might have been in attendance.
Several Red Throated Divers were seen, the most for a while, one was pretty close in but prolonged observation was impossible as it spent most of the time frustratingly hidden in the troughs.
Nothing of note was found with the vigorously bobbing Common Scoters and as a particularly large and dark squall sped towards us ominously whipping up the sea as it approached we turned and fled just reaching the office door before the heavens opened.
On the way home the light was phenomenal between the squalls with vibrant colours etched against the dark foreboding sky not seen it so crisp for a long time - shame we couldn't get any wildlifey shots.
Taken through the rain/hail splattered windscreen - not whilst driving, we'd pulled over!
Where to next? More of the chilly same with even more wind...for a change...NOT..we want calm; we want calm!!!
In the meantime let us know what's hopping out of hibernation in your outback.