The Safari was struggling to catch up with the influx of Redwings yesterday. They were being reported in good numbers from all points of the compass but not here at Base Camp..it was being to get a bit depressing as nothing much else was about either. To be fair there was a north-westerly gale blowing which didn't help matters at all.
We took Frank out for his last pee before bed and faintly above the noise of the wind in the tree-tops we heard that quiet sound that means autumn - tsiiip and then another and another. Three calls but we wondered from how many birds. All is well, the Redwings are back!
There seems to be plenty of berries for them too unless the farmers do this too soon which no doubt they probably will - why can't they wait until February??? Even then the hedges don't want to be flailed to within an inch of their lives; leaves some cover for the breeding season for Pete's sake no wonder several species of farmland birds are doing so poorly.
This morning too Bird Guides and Twitter were alive with reports of massive numbers of Redwings but there was no vis mig over Base Camp at all, again we were missing out. Again it was thanks to Frank we caught up with them. He had to go out and on our return we heard that familiar call, looking up we saw about 40 going north - the wrong way. A minute later another similar sized flock flew over followed by a few more with some Fieldfares mixed in and they were followed by another mixed flock but this one was almost all Redwings.
This arvo we were able to get down to Chat Alley and join SMcC, our new SeaWatch Foundation's NW Coordinator on a Dolphin Watch.
We arrived a little after she'd started and just missed a possible Harbour Porpoise - it was still a bit choppy out there making mammal spotting a bit tricky.
Small numbers of Common Scoters were about and one flock gave us an unusually close fly-by. 26 Pink Footed Geese came in from the due west but otherwise it was pretty quiet at sea. Eventually we found a bull Grey Seal which promptly disappeared beneath the waves and it was some time before being respotted - phew our reputation was on the line for a minute or two there!
A Red Throated Diver was sat out on the water in the middle distance and while watching that we nearly missed nine Whooper Swans that snuck up on us from behind. Hearing the 'whoop' we looked up to see them almost overhead we grabbed the camera but they were past us by then hence the 'bum' shot.
Surprise of the session were four distant Sandwich Terns heading out of the bay. Out that way we also saw a suspect dark shape in the water a long wait ensued but it turned in to a young gull and not anything mammalian. Just before we had to go to meet Wifey a male Red Breasted Merganser flew past, not seen many of those this year.
Not a bad day at all. SMcC will be doing more watches over the next few weeks some in association with BBC Autumnwatch so keep an eye on the F/B page and the BBC Activities pages (in due course) for details of times and locations.
Where to next? A long distance safari way way way up north tomorrow och aye the noo, might be out of contact for a day or two.
In the meantime let us know what's passing unseen in the darkness in your outback.