The Safari was out in the wind first thing and we were the only one! Not a great lot was out there on the brisk southerly and we can confirm that it's deffo getting wintery out there our fingers were feeling it today.
It took a while to find anything of note and they were two Great Crested Grebes doing a good job of hiding in the troughs. Three Shelducks went north and a Red Throated Diver came towards us from the south before dropping in to the waves. Bucking the trend a Meadow Pipit went south.
At lunchtime we had organised a two hour cetacean watch but again we were thwarted by the weather earlier in the morning. No-one turned up but we gave it a go as there was a beach clean at half time that we could join if there was nothing to see and no-one to watch with.
As it happened it was quite interesting but not at sea, on the beach. We soon found two Bar Tailed Godwits always a good find on Patch 2. Not sure it we missed one amongst the gulls but a third soon appeared. Later a three more flew in from the north making a site record breaking six! Along the beach a small flock of 15 Dunlin landed, another good sighting as we rarely see this species in any numbers unless they are mixed with Sanderlings of which there were a only a rather disappointing four today. Uncounted Oystercatcher, a handful of Turnstones and a single Redshank made up the wader-fest but it was quiet over yet...all will be revealed in a bit. Another Meadow Pipit flew south low along the wall too.
Highlight of the watch wasn't a wader but a gull - how did we know you knew we were going to say that? But what kind of gull? Well exactly; what type of gull??? There were many Herring Gulls a few Common Gulls and a handful of Black Headed Gulls and sat apart from the all these and slightly apart from each other were two Lesser black Backs. Nothing odd in that but superficially one looked smaller than the other and much much paler, trick of the light? Don't think so when the moved close together and stood at the same angle the small one was deffo smaller, slighter, blunter winged, although could have been in a different stage of moult, and was at least three shades of grey lighter but not as light as a Common Gull; bill was all dark for a bird that looked to be almost fully adult, add to that a flat lightly marked head sitting on a dark neck, nape and breast looking a bit like a scarf with a heavier shawl across the lower nape and 'shoulders'. A third Lesser Black Back dropped in a d sat next to the 'proper' one making the odd one look properly odd. The legs of the other two were normal but the odd one had sludgy indeterminate coloured legs. No idea...a Herring x Lesser Black Back hybrid back crossed with a Lesser Black Back?...no chance of a pic unfortunately and deffo one to look out for and get some more details on like open wing situation.
After work we nipped up to the other end of town to join SMcC on her cetacean watch and as we walked down the cliffs we were very pleased to see she wasn't alone - volunteers wayhay!
They hadn't had much and by now it was murky with drizzle in the air and getting dark added to that the sea was still quite choppy - not the best Harbour Porpoise spotting weather.
But the wader-fest theme continued with three Curlews on the beach, a species we very rarely see on this stretch of beach and never near the wall.
Here's the stalwarts, no they're not being anti-social they have their backs to the cold wind and are looking to the brightest patch of sky, behind us rain wasn't far away.
Where to next? SMcC has another watch tomorrow at the same place on the lower walk below the Norbreck Castle from 9am to 11am while we're back looking in the rockpools between 2 and 3pm if you're in the area please wrap up and join them.
In the meantime let us know how weird the gullage was in your outback.