The Safari is a not a little miffed that April went out with a summery bang and May came in with a back to ‘normal’ grey cold and miserable. Is it too much to ask that we can have two consecutive sunny days once in a while?
We eagerly awaited arriving at R’ouzel Puddle only to find once we got there it was full but empty, however the next ‘new’ puddle had a drinking Woodpigeon, quite likely to be a migrant as we don’t see many in amongst the Central Beach feral Pigeons in fact don’t actually recall when the last one we saw here was or if there even was a last one.
We went straight out onto Patch 2 and well before we’d reached the wall noticed that there were plenty of Swallows zipping through and on the wall itself were two White Wagtails niftily catching flies....so far so good! But that’s about as good as it got :-( We struggled in the cold easterly breeze for a distant Gannet and couldn’t even find a Sandwich Tern. Best sighting was just as we were turning away to leave – three Manx Shearwaters came cruising by, the closest they’ve been so far this season – excellent! But where was everything else? Up at the northern end of the coast by the sound of it! Fellow Patch 2 sea-watcher SD wasn’t out this morning but had had a coastal warbler-fest near the town centre. Acting on this hint we had a shuffy round the gardens here but only came up with the usual House Sparrows, Starlings, Dunnocks and Blackbirds, perhaps we were a little too late and any dropped migrants had already moved on.
In the morning we had a visit from a school group who attacked the pond with gusto...don’t they always? The cold weather seems to have really slowed down the pond life and little other than snails (four species) was being netted. Eventually techniques improved and front swimming (Corixid) Waterboatmen were being hoiked out. Soon the first 3-spined Stickleback was found...a tiny fry...the few we didn’t manage to remove have bred....aaaarrrrgggghhhhhhh. Larger specimens were brought in too.
Best find was this Whirligig Beetle, a species we don’t see too often in our pond due to its remoteness from other ponds.
We were back out on the wall at lunchtime where again it was hard work on the fallen tide.
Plenty of gulls and Oystercatchers on the beach beyond our southern boundary but not a lot on our beach at all! We counted a distant line of 39 Cormorants roosting on the beach and found a handful more fishing in the water. Still no Sandwich Terns though! We spotted an adult gull flying along the waters edge which caught and held our attention, long wings, little inner primary window, masses of white against a narrow black crescent on the wing tip and a definite ‘double bellied ‘look to its underparts. It cruised back and forth a couple of times but was never near enough for a proper ID....oh for one of those scopes with an integrated camera/video. We didn’t nail the ID due to an adult Little Gull passing the opposite way behind it which we followed for a couple of seconds but do so we lost the more ‘interesting’ one in the melee of gulls on the beach.
At last we heard a Sandwich Tern; two in fact, where they had sprung from is anyone’s guess, roosting on the beach perhaps. Two Sanderlings were found scampering around amongst the gulls.
A few Swallows hawked along the sea wall to our left then we sort of heard a noise behind us, turned round and came face to face with a 100mph Swift (169, 71) – crikey it nearly took our head off!
An errand saw us nip out and at the corner of the garden a small bird with a lot of white in the wing dropped from on high in to the bushes in the corner of the garden – didn’t get a good look at it as we drove past....leucistic House Sparrow? Not noticed one here but that doesn’t mean to say there isn’t one (or more) knockin about; Chaffinch? Rare as Rockin Horse doo-doo here...or something even more unusual? We didn’t get a chance to look on our return so we’ll never know but like the ‘Blackbird’ in the R’ouzel Puddle we’ll be keeping an eye out for leucistic House Sparrows from now on.
And finally here’s a pic of an alien-looking life form from the beach taken at low tide yesterday by our marine biologist friend. A Sabellaria worm poking out of its burrow, probably one of the most important animals on our stretch of coast due to its reef building abilities.
Where to next? More of the same but will it be third time lucky this week and we hit a bit of decent seabird passage...or better still that odd-ball gull will be stood on the wall 20 feet (7m) away doing a full hat n cane routine for the camera.
In the meantime let us know what’s diving into the bushes in your outback.