Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A noisy start to the day

The Safari was out on a ghostly-like Patch 1 this morning...don’t yer just lurve school holidays! Even at the early hour of 06.00 the traffic is significantly reduced with there being no school. It was a pleasure to be out and to be able to stop and stand quietly listening to the birdsong gathering momentum as dawn approached. All the usual protagonists were vying to be ‘Top of the Pops’. Robins, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Woodpigeons, a distant Mistle Thrush across the school field somewhere and the two regular Song Thrushes all giving it plenty of welly in the much milder conditions; no Wrens though but we didn’t get as far as the park. They were probably all doing much the same last week but we struggled to hear them all properly over the early morning traffic...an insidious form of pollution very disruptive to wildlife that at a guess 99.9% of the population aren’t aware of.
Leaving Base Camp the eastern sky was afire with the reds of the rising sun so much so that we really should have gone back indoors for the camera. Beautiful! 
The journey to work also gave us an impressive sight. As we approached Central Pier a few hundred yards in front of us a huge swirl of Starlings formed into a flock as the left their roost and headed over the road and off to the countryside to feed. We were slightly disappointed we weren’t nearer but we needn’t have worried. What we hadn’t realised was the swirl possibly hadn’t come from beneath the pier but off the beach. As we passed we could see a black mass of several thousand more Starlings looking like a big oozing oil stain on the sands not far from the pier. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop for a better look.
At Patch 2 the tide was almost at its lowest point. We counted about 300 rather mobile Oystercatchers, with just four Redshanks, 64 Sanderlings and seven Knot were feeding near the outfall pipe again.
Offshore the visibility was poor and yet again we couldn’t find the flock of eight Scaup. A few Common Scoters beetled about here and there and a small flock flew past with a much smaller browny duck in their midst but it was too far away to get anything on – Teal?
With nothing else of note and a crisp cool wind blowing a warming cuppa was in order.
For a change we donned the wellies at lunchtime and had a look along the base of the seawall instead of peering out to sea through the scope. The tide was on its way in and where we had specifically wanted to check for more Onchidoris bilamellata egg ribbons was already ‘out of bounds’. So as not to get wet feet we headed south to where the tide was yet to reach and the gully at the base of the wall still only shallow and narrow. Almost all the ‘rockpool’s were very murky so there could have been anything in them...or nothing at all. The clearer ones were mostly higher up the wall and thus too high to investigate safely.
A small group of Turnstones allowed reasonably close approach as the fed on the green algae that coats the drier pots.

Where to next? A slightly different safari tomorrow that could be on the exciting side
In the meantime let us know what’s caused the turbidity in your outback.

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