Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tales of the riverside

The Safari went to the beach yesterday and boy was it murky. Last time we were here there were Gannets diving just off shore they may have been there today but there was no way of knowing!
As we walked Frank on the beach we spottted a surfer! The water temperature is no more than a bone numbing 8C.

The beach was being moved - a storm had thrown up thousands of tons of sand against and over the wall so it was being taken back down the to the water's edge.
They've been shifting the sand for six weeks apparently. Each trailer load was about seven tons.
This morning we had a lovely early walk along the river. We were out by a couple of minutes after 05.00. The walk down to the river was cacophonous with birdsong. All your favourites were in full voice, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins, Wrens, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, a Nuthatch and Stock Doves. Across the fields on the other side of the lane we could hear Skylarks and Yellowhammers...all very nice aswas the heady aroma from the Wild Garlic (aka Ramsons).
 Down at the river all seemed normal, the resident Gosaanders were as flighty as ever - really hard to get close to them. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary o we decided to amble downstream to the Sand Martin colony. Turned out to be a good move!
Sedge Warblers were numerous in the bankside vegetation and crossing the little bridge over the brook we chances]d upon a Roe Deer thrashing his antlers through a small sapling a mere 20 yards away - we were in the open and trying to raise the camera as sneakily as we could we weren't sneaky enough he saw us and for a moment stood his ground but then turned an ran barking fiercely in indignation.
A little further on there is an arch way beyond which the riverside becomes a little wilder. We passed under it and could hear some squeals above the water tumbling over the low wier. Scasnning the far bank we soon found the noisy little devils, a mother Otter with two cubs have a last play before bedtime...brilliant!!!
We rattled off a few shots which are far from the best pics of Otters you'll ever see but to be fair they were a long way off and it was still before the sun had climbed over the eastern hills. While watching their antics a Kingfisher flashed over the top of them. This was becoming a pretty good morning!
Eventually they disappeared into the overhanging vegetation and we moved on. The river was pretty quiet and we began to think that there were no Sand Martins this year as we hadn't seen any or even any Swallows hawking over the river. We needn't have worried. climbing over the last stile in to the sheep field which has the colony's sandy bank there they were in abundance high over the fields rather than over the river.
We stopped to take a pic of the river looking back upstream.
Across on the far bank we could hear Song Thrush, Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat, a Blackcap, we hoped we might hear a Cuckoo but instead heard a Garden Warbler (161) singing from a dense patch of Willow scrub from who's cover a Heron stealthily fished the margins of a area of slack water.
All was as peaceful as it gets, until the anxious chitterings of the Sand Martins alerted us to a predator, we span round to see a raptor cruise against the backdrop of trhe far trees, Buzzard - not common in these parts, we're not far from 'Buzzardgate' land - but no wait a minute better views shows as it came over the river showed it wasn't a Buzzard at all - Osprey!!! (162). Seriously hitting the jackpot now! We fumble with the camera as it turned and disappeared round the bend in the river before we could press the shutter button.
The river is noted for its Salmon and the fishermens' boats were tied up at regular intervals. We hoped to see one jump at the weir but the only one we found was floating downstream pretty much deceased.
As you can imagine there was a very definite spring in our step on our walk back to temporary Base Camp. And there was more to come. At the old walled garden we saw a bird flit out of a hole in the crumbling stone work - it looked sort of sparrow like but there are no sparrows here - oh yes there are! Getting on it in a flower filled Wild Cherry (aka Gean ) tree it was nothing less than a Tree Sparrow!
A Brown Hare was in a different field to yesterday's two which were still in their field later in the morning when a Buzzard - shhhhhhhh don't tell the local Pheasant brigade - flew over being seriously mobbed by the local Rooks and Jackdaws.
After a light lunch we headed out to the seaside again, a different beach this time. Frank had a ball to play with for the first time in almost a year. We were cautious with his knee and didn't let him do too much but a splash in the breakers was a real treat for him!
Birdwise it was quiet. A pair of Pied Wagtails combed the beach while out at sea on the horizon Gannets dived and closer in in the swell several small flock of Eiders bobbed about.
Then we picked up a broad winged raptor well out to sea somewhere off Lindisfarne and watched intently as it drew nearer the coast, what was it? Too far to tell, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Holy Grail (aka Honey Buzzard)??? Frank decided to flip out and have a bit of frutch about and taking our eye off it we lost it never to refind it!!!! A check of Birdguides back at tBase Camp showed nothing of note had been seen from Holy Island or the Farnes Islands at that time so probably not one of the latter two, or the watchers at those locations missed it. An immature Peregrine flew past us as we about to load the car and leave.
The beach had some impressive fossils in the rocks of something perhaps a bit like a Woodlouse or Sea Mouse.
Back at Base Camp the sun was shining and Frank wanted to dry off outside which gave us the opportunity to miss a really nice pic of a Green Veined White butterfly although we did get the trickier shot of this Common Dog Violet(?).
Can you tell the species from the sepals?

Just chillin
Where to next? Boaty ride to the Farne Islands tomorrow and with no Frank we can actually land and have a mooch about on them.
In the meantime let us know what no-one else seems to have seen in your outback.


cliff said...

What a day out that was for you Dave, very well done photographing the Otters!

I had an hour snapping the Terns @ Preston Docks this lunchtime - who needs the Farnes (he says rather unconvincingly).

Monika said...

That's about the water temp here too, and we get all kinds of paddle boarders, snorkeler, and swimmers - mostly wearing dry suits of course, but I haven't been brave enough to try it myself yet!

Moving beach sand looks like a tedious and thankless job....