Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Two tally ticks today

The Safari was able to get out for a few minutes this morning after some torrential rain had passed over - has there been any other type of rain this winter?  The tide was well up so no beach to peruse but the light offshore breeze meant the sea was quite calm. 
We saw plenty of Common Scoters but it was still that bit too choppy to be able to count them with any accuracy so we guessed at around 250 or so. A couple of Red Throated Divers flew towards us but well out and lines of Cormorants followed each other out  to their fishing grounds.
There are always some Common Scoters in flight, small flocks shifting position from here to there and this morning was no exception, except that one such small flock contained a much smaller duck in their midst, a Teal (P2 #31), always a good find on Patch 2, we didn't see one here last year.
After lunch we nipped out again, the tide was well down by now and we could see with our naked eye there was a good number of gulls picking through the shellfish at the low water mark. The scope revealed just how many, well over 500 with most a long way to the north.
We had a look at the closest ones and was releived the light was better (= flatter) than yesterday but couldn't find anything of note.
Looking to the north at much further range we had to concentrate a lot more. The gulls here were milling round in a tight bunch in a pool left by the tide well up the beach. It wasn't easy to pick individual birds out of the morass but then a dog walker walked by - just what we needed! but like the other day at the Iceland Gull site and the motorised chav he unwittingly did us a favour - the gulls flew along the beach towards us and landed in a line at the water's edge just right for viewing. It didn't take long before we picked out a striking brute of an adult Yellow Legged Gull (91, p2 #32). Now we were stoked and searched through the remainder very diligently but to no avail, we couldn't find anything else of note. We have to admit we were hoping to find the Mediterranean Gull from yesterday again. 
Then we discovered why we might not have found it - looking beyond the southern boundary the far beach was absolutely smothered with gulls all the way to the river mouth, how many? Several thousands but too far away to have any hope of finding anything unusual apart from a single Lesser Black Backed Gull.
With all these gulls about it wasn't a good day to be a stranded Dab or Common Sandstar, the Great Black Backed Gulls were having a field day ripping chunks out of these when they found or stole them.
We could have stayed out for hours today even though the wind was getting on the sharp side. But there was a bit of weather sneaking up behind us. Turning round to go back inside at well past the nominated time the sky looked just a tad on the threatening side!
If you saw that sky in the summer you'd be thinking thunder and lightning.
Where to next? Patch 2 is producing the goods this week but will the good luck continue tomorrow - hope so.
In the meantime let us know if it did actually stop raining in your outback.

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