Sunday, 4 August 2013

National Whale and Dolphin Watch days 3 & 4

The Safari can really go off the weather - how long has it been flat calm and pleasantly warm??? Well just in the nick of time for NWDW it changed to much cooler and much windier, from offshore too so right in our faces and perfect for chopping up the sea into a mass of white horses  - useless for watching for whales!
Friday night we were out with Frank and watched a thunderstorm away to the east with lots of lightning illuminating the distant clouds, all very impressive! And then today lo and behold we found a photo of said storm, how mad is that!
Saturday saw us on Patch 2 with three eager volunteers but to be honest the weather was against us. In our four hours we got several Sandwich Terns, several Common Tern and an Arctic Tern. From way out west two Black Tailed Godwits came in-off to the south and somewhere in the order of 250 Dunlin went by to roost.. Out at sea we only found four individual Gannets, no more than 100 Common Scoters, half a dozen Cormorants, three Manx Shearwaters and about 100 Common Scoters - not a lot to write home about and no mammals of any description...not even neoprene-clad Humans today.
Somehow we missed an Arctic Skua, a Little Tern, a Fulmar, several more Gannets, eight Shelducks, the same number of Kittiwakes, a couple more Manx Shearwaters...we hope all these we seen before we started.
News came in in late afternoon of a bait ball away to the south and possibly not quite visible which held  "phenomenal numbers of seabirds feeding in Liverpool Bay this evening 1000+ Gannet, close to 1000 Sandwich and Common Tern 300+ Manxies,but most at limits of vision. Odd skuas in attendance" Damnation is all we can say!!!
A Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff (35) was heard in the garden when we got back to Base Camp.
Today's watch was at Chat Alley and again involved four full hours sea-staring. Today we had four volunteers join us and not long into the watch we found a Grey Seal drifting along on the tide. A good start but the weather, although improved, was still not in our favour. About 100 Dunlin went by today in dribs and drabs upto high tide. A Turnstone also went past us. At sea a couple of Sandwwich Terns and about 35 - 40 Common Scoters were found. It took a long time for us to find the first and only Gannet of the day. The best sighting of the day was saved for the dying minutes, a sadly quite distant, winter plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull.
Once again we were easily beaten by SD down on Patch 2 who had ANOTHER Little Tern (we'd better find one tomorrow or we won't be best pleased!), 40 or more Gannets, 40 Sandwich Terns, a Great Crested Grebe, a Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater, Bar Tailed Godwits and over 500 Common Scoters...again we're either unlucky or didn't get out of bed early enough.
Only one photogenic subject today - we had hoped to go twitching either the Bonaparte's Gull or the Two Barred Crossbill but household renovations required our attention...last room in the house to refurbish; we've only been here 10 years!
Where to next? We're supposed to have a group of kiddies on a mini-beast safari tomorrow but at the mo we're not to hopeful about the weather situation but you never know it might just miss us.
In the meantime let us know who's hanging around trying to be photogenic in your outback.
Today is an auspicious day for all the wrong reasons, it is 100 years since the start of the 1st World War...whata waste that achieved what? May they all rest easy now.

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