Saturday, 7 September 2013

A bit wet out there

The Safari has a request for you, there's something to think about and respond to from our lovely 'friends' at Defra. Here's a starter for 10...someone wants to build something on an Ancient Woodland. This is woodland that has been around since 1600AD and probably long before that so we'll give it an arbitrary age of 500 years. How would you go about 'offsetting' its destruction? Simple answer is you can't - how can you possibly replace the seed bank or the fungal associations in the soil. Maybe the developer should have to pay for a a team of ecologists and estate workers at the replacement site, cos that what they'll do knock over a hundred mature trees and associated habitat and plant 200 whips in a field nearby...but if they then had to pay for the team to look after and monitor it so that it did become Ancient Woodland, lets say £100,000/year in staff and material costs index linked at say 5% for 500 years paid upfront to an existing conservation organisation (no forming of sub-contractor companies like the jokers that manage Magpie Wood and it's surrounds) that's what I would call a sensible replacement to ensure an adequate outcome.
And just exactly would you offset in the marine environment, can you build Guillemot nesting cliffs, how long does it take for the seabed to recover after a Scallop dredger's ripped the habitat to shreds?
We've seen several examples of 'mitigation' locally and none have worked particularly well.
So get your thinking caps on and let them know. If no-one responds they'll think it's a great idea and rattle on with the destruction of what's left of our fantastic habitats and their amazing wildlife.
Talking of our amazing wildlife there was no chance of getting the mothy out last night bur instead of having a lie in we headed out to Chat Alley just after 06.00 to see if anything had been dropped on the cliffs by the overnight weather, we weren't too hopeful as it had been too bad for most of the night so probably not much was on the move.
Arriving at the top of the cliffs there were hundreds of Garden Snails making their way home after a heavy Blackpool Friday night of over-indulgence of the green kind.
We soon found a Swallow and then a couple more before it started raining...and boy did it rain heavy!
With the rain lashing down we decided to cut our full walk short at the highest point on the cliff and it was here we found a juvenile Wheatear trying its best to shelter in the lee of the steep steps that make their way down to the lower level. We also had a couple of Pied Wagtails flitting on and off the fence alongside the top patch - juts dropped by the onset of the rain?
The rain eased a little as we turned round but now each rain drop driven by the wind was stingingly cold through our soaked trousers, really felt like a proper winter's morning. And we seriously need to re-waterproof the not-so-waterprooof coat after it's been hanging unused on the highest hook in the hall for a couple of months.
Another Pied Wagtail went overhead and a couple or Swallows were hawking tight close to the cliff edge. That was the sum total of our soaking until we got the very end where we had another, or perhaps the same, Wheatear.
We gave up but had half a mind to nip up to our Vis Mig point on the railway bridge at the North Blackpool Pond Trail but seeing the enormity of the approaching band of black we thought better of it and went back to Base Camp for a warming mug of tea and loads of toast!
Here's some young gulls we phone-cammed earlier in the week
After a load of household duties we got out again for an hour or so after we heard from AB that he'd seen a Stonechat from his upstairs window away in the distance, ever hopeful Chat Alley would produce something a bit special.
As soon as we arrived we found a Wheatear but it was immediately flushed by a dog walker.
The weather was still dire, mid afternoon and almost twilight but at least we avoided another soaking.
The gulls provided some nice photo opportunities and well we just can't resist them...
 In between the gulls we saw a couple of Redshanks, one of which had an itch to scratch.
Back to the gulls
The sky was seriously moody at times
At other times the sun came out and the sky turned a pure azure
At the end of our route we saw another Wheatear as a family approached, we they push it towards us or would it flit up to the top of the cliff...b*gger the latter happened!
Not to worry we saw several more on the way back, at least five in all it was hard to keep a track of them as they passed us and we overtook them back.
A sharp shower just missed us but in the gloom we found a Pied Wagtail sheltering among the rocks.
A bit too dark!
Back to the stars of the show
Still a bit dark!

At last we managed to sneak up on one, still watched us like a hawk but allowed a single press of the shutter before it darted over the edge of the cliff.
We got much more safari-ing in than we thought we would today, so we're happy enough.
Where to next? Got a safari to just about the furthest south-easterly region of Safari-land tomorrow on the trail of a couple of species we've already dipped once this year - will it be a successful day or will it be another bad dip?
In the meantime let us know if you successfully dodged the wet stuff in your outback.


cliff said...

A nice selection there Dave, the BH Gull in flight over the rippled sand looks good.

Warren Baker said...

Lots of that destruction taking place down here Davyman.

Its all very depressing :-(

Nice Wheatears though ;-)