Monday, 16 September 2013

It's an ill wind that blows and doesn't produce

The Safari was out on Patch 2 as soon as possible this morning and luckily the tide wasn't up enough to give us a soaking.
We scanned and acanned and scanned but to no avail nothing was moving along our piece of coastline. Eventually a handful of Gannets moved by going nowhere fast in to the teeth of the wind. We gave it longer than we normally dare knowing that out there somewhere was a Leach's Petrel or two with our name on it. Nothing more was seen and the second wave to come overthe wall and sloosh us in the face was the final straw, we turned and fled a little downhearted.
Crossing the road we spotted a dead Starling by the little flower bed at the side of the Zebra Crossing. Always on the look out for rings we went to pick it up, it wasn't a Starling at all it was a Leach's Petrel. It was dead but still bleeding and we thought initially it had struck the overhead wires for the trams or the cabling for the Illuminations. Later we got to thinking actually they keep really low flipping over obstacles (like waves) rather than soaring to great height so perhaps it was struck by a car...either way it was unringed. It must have flown BEHIND us while we were watching for them as we don't think it was there when we set off, surely we would have spotted it cos it was only feet from where we waited for the traffic to stop to let is cross!
Wouja look at the tube on that!
A sad end for a lost traveler.
Looking at Bird Guides throughout the morning reports of Leach's Petrels and other juicy seabirds from all along the NW coast from the southern tip of Scotland to Bardsey Island, Liverpool Bay was full of goodies! We could hardly wait for lunchtime to come round and have a look at the dropping tide.
By now there was no danger of getting a wave in the face and we gave it a good go but again nothing was out there, think there just wasn't quite enough south in the wind. We didn't even find a Gannet, just a few Lesser Black Backed Gulls trying to move south and a Great Black Backed Gull here and there. A Black Headed Gull came in to land right next  to us but we moved as it entered our  peripheral vision and it took off without quite touching down. This made us look down at the beach where we saw a few Sanderlings and a Bar Tailed Godwit. The godwit was feeding in an interesting way, it poked the sand at short regular intervals with its bill slightly open as it walked forward, when it felt a variation in the sand it delved down with different techniques, a shallow stab brought up a worm, a mid depth probe brought up an unknown prey item from which a blob of sand fell and finally the up to the eyeballs full depth probe and wriggle to get another type of worm, one of the Lugworm  species? The walk and probe did seem random as it walked in straight lines for several yards and we couldn't determine which of the three it was going to do next. After about 10 yards it would turn slightly and try another 'run'. Wish we'd had video camera with us it was fascinating to watch.
Anyway we soon returned to the monstrous sea - there were some humungous waves out towards the horizon. While we were scanning a shearwater rose out of a trough banked and was lost appeared bigger than a Manx Shearwater and in the good light was deffo brown rather than black although Manxies can appear brownish but this was well did appear again but a mile further away to the north and only arse on so nothing more to go on, think was probably a Sooty Shearwater but nowhere near enough to claim for a record unfortunately.
Another distant bird caught our eye giving a Herring Gull a hard time, a Bonxie (P2 #75).
Getting back in the office we had look on the Fylde Bird Club website to see how many more Leach's we'd missed and saw that NP had had a Purple Sandpiper at the southern end of  our Patch...a species we've never seen on Patch 2 and expect almost every winters day! Grabbing the bins we dashed down there and dipped it seeing only a single Turnstone. AB later let us know it was still there this evening so we know where we're going first thing tomorrow.
So there ended a day of mixed birding fortunes.
Where to next? Just told you and that'll probably before we get anywhere near work.
In the meantime let us know what was in the wrong place at the wrong time in your outback.


Stuart Price said...

On a similar note I found the remains of an albatross species on one of the local beaches last week......

I've never seen a Leachs Petrel, they even breed in Hokkaido.

Anonymous said...

A real shame that was the only sighting you got of one , Dave.

cliff said...

Crikey Dave, that looks a bit sinister in the first few shots, love the spread wings in shot 4 though. Shame about its demise.