Tuesday, 4 February 2014

As good as it gets

The Safari had another cold session on the wall just after sun up this morning. The gulls were once again out in force feasting on the squinzillions of shells that have been left on the shore. There were probably getting on for 1000 on our stretch of beach, most either too far away to the north or in poor light to the south to be able to go through properly. These two groups amounted to the majority of the birds. In front of us there was a flock of a hundred or more but they wanted to feed where a fisherman was collecting bait and they were constantly on the move. As it was we didn’t notice anything of note amongst them. Somewhere on the beach there must have been an oddball or two.
At sea all we could see were Common Scoters.
By the time lunchtime came round the tide had risen and the beach was totally covered so we weren’t able to put the wellies on and have a proper shuffy at the various strandlines. We have a target mollusc species we’d like to find.
With the choppy waves lapping the base of the wall it was scanning the sea or bust so scanning it was. A few small flocks of Common Scoters had drifted close in giving reasonable views as the bobbed in and out of the troughs. More were flying about at varying distances away. A Great Crested Grebe went south and a Red Throated Diver was found in the waves.
Small flocks of Common Scoters continued to take to the air and all were scrutinised in case of a lurking Velvet Scoter; one of the flocks did have a lurker but not a Velvet Scoter, a female Long Tailed Duck...excellent, don’t think we’ve seen this species in two different locations on consecutive days before.
Panning round on yet another scoter flock not far beyond it was the tiniest little blunt ended cigar-shaped blob of black and white. It was going hell for leather with its pointy wings doing twenty to the dozen, deffo an auk and from its size, less than half the size of the nearby scoters, we’re pretty sure it was a Little Auk (103, P2 35 – subject to acceptance). The head showed more black than white and as it passed it rear showed more white than black. The undersides of the wing appeared to have a slightly paler central longitudinal line from the axillaries to about 1/3 the way from the wing-tip – this could perhaps have been an effect of the bright sunshine though.
We had a brief discussion with another Patch 2 regular once back in the office and he suggested we had to rule out Puffin. We’re pretty sure it was too small for that species and showed too much white both on the head and on the sides of the flanks when seen going away.
It was lost when it banked and landed on the sea towards the river mouth.
If accepted it’ll be a Lifer – happy days...fingers crossed.
Once the Little Auk was out of sight we started scanning back to the north and found a couple of Kittiwakes coming southwards.
We had hoped to pick up one or more of the three Harbour Porpoises that had been seen off the South-side yesterday but we’re not grumbling; hey-ho you can’t have everything!

Here's some of LCV’s digiphone-scoped pics from yesterday, some through glazed windows. Not sure we understand the purpose of double glazed hide windows other than that’s the easiest way of buying premade units these days but they sure don’t give the best viewing conditions, particularly at an angle, and can’t be opened in these hides.
With him sending his pic of only one Peregrine in the tree we can only assume he didn’t manage to get one with both sat up there. The second bird sat in the crook of the branch partially obscured by the paler more upright branch.
Lapwings and Redshanks
Spot the Scaup

Male Teal
Female Marsh Harrier
Two male Bullfinches, we never noticed more than one til we saw this pic!

Can't wait until our next jaunt with the boy.
Where to next? Patch 2 can't come up trumps two days running - can it?
In the meantime let us know who turned up unannounced in your outback


cliff said...

Dave - what d'ya mean "If accepted", you know what you saw man, get it on your list! With your experience I think it's a given that's what it was.

Mindst - re "don’t think we’ve seen this species in two different locations on consecutive days before", I don't think you have either - I think you've missed Monday out ;-)

Stuart Price said...

Little Auk: very nice find. I've never seen one.........

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Bloody ell, time flies when yer avin fun... Lost a whole flippin day!