Saturday, 16 November 2013

It landed with a thud

The Safari didn't get hit the road until late morning. We weren't sure which way to head but needed fuel for an exciting further flung safari tomorrow and with the petrol station sort of being towards the coast-ish we decided that's where we'd take Frank. He played a a bit of ball on the cliff top until he got tired - doesn't take long these days - and then while he had a sit down we scanned the near sea with the bins, no scope today. 
It all seemed quiet out there but on the old boating pool there were two separate wader roosts. Frank grudgingly got up and followed us down the slope for a better view. On the way down we diturbed three Meadow Pipits from the long grass on the cliff face.We looked beyond the boating pool for any sign of the Velvet Scoter that has been seen there during the week but saw no scoters at all.  Just one Turnstone was with about 30 Redshanks in the 'easy' flock naughtily not counted properly or perhaps not as the larger flock was on the seaward side of the wall round the corner and uncountable. It was unknowable if the Purple Sandpiper(s?) were in that flock too.
Frank wasn't happy that he had to climb all the way up the cliff again but we took our time and he made it without too much trouble, at the top we found a bench to sit on and scan while he had a well earned lie down. Our scan produced a few distant black spots aka Common Scoters and four closer Great Crested Grebes, one of which wrangled a small flatfish,  a Dab?, for a good 10 minutes. A little way beyond it a dark shape appeared irregularly in the troughs, the nose of a Grey Seal.
By now it was well past lunch time and our belly was beginning to think our throat had been cut so off we went back to Base Camp. We'd only been in long enough to put the kettle on but not long enough to take our coat off when there was a knock at the door; we weren't expecting visitors and opened it to see a cheery faced young lady bearing a large box and a sheet to sign, we weren't expecting a parcel either but when we saw the shape of it we guessed what it was...and only delivered by huge pantechnicon to the originators HQ yesterday - what service!
We eagerly signed the sheet and took the parcel from her...good job we didn't drop it, it wouldn't have landed with a thud it would have gone straight through tthe floorboards - weighs a ton!!!
Time to get that teabag in the cup covered with some freshly boiled water and get our specs on.
Flicking through gives you an idea of the immense amount of work that has gone into this tome from the 40000 or so volunteers producing 16 million records! To the scientists who made sense of this data the programmers who presented it the graphoc artists who designed the layout. Everybody who had the slightest input should be well proud of the end result. We didn't realise that lots of those were credited until we got to the appendices the back where we found our name on page 660, amongst the 39999 others.
This wasn't the first national atlas we've participated in but although we have a a well thumbed copy of the earliest one we were too young to be doing fieldwork for it.
All this started out with a couple of books about 50 years ago. Perhaps the first one begin this one which we're glad to see is still available so we bought it for our young 'grandson'.
Where to next? A northwards safari tomorrow to meet up with our boy and his boy - hence the book. we hope to claw a couple of species back in our Year List Challenge with Monika who after being behind for much of the year has a had a trip to California and snuck in to a possibly unassailable lead. Right - we're off to re-enforce the bookcase!
In the meantime let us know what's pushing its nose up in your outback.

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