Monday, 10 February 2014

Did spring happen today?

The Safari was glad to see the bright morning today but we had to scrape the ice off the windscreen of the Land Rover for only the third or fourth time this winter. The sea was as calm as its been for a good while and we had high hopes of something blubbery. 
We were out with the scope as soon as we were able but no-one had told the blubbery brigade we were looking for them. The birds weren't over-exciting either, About 500 Common Scoters, three Kittiwakes, five Great Crested Grebes and a Red Throated Diver was about the size of it an remarkably every single one of them was moving south. All that is except a couple of Cormorants, a couple of others were following the southerly moving crowd.
Before long it was time to get back to the grind stone. 
The morning was busy but there was serious excitement when our colleagues delivered a new piece of kit for the visitors to 'play' and learn on.
At long last we've been able to use JMcL's brilliant artwork he provided for us a few years ago now. It's pretty big, about 8 feet (2.4m) long. If you're in the area do pop down and have a bash at it.
After a speedily chomped lunch we had a group of volunteers out on a beach clean. Fortunately our beach is very clean at the moment and we struggled to fill our bags - never a bad thing! So little rubbish we found we had to go a little further on over our southern boundary. Here to there wasn't much in the way of rubbish although the Coastguard did tell us that much of it had been blown into the dunes, out of bounds for us today.
There was no sign of the local Snow Bunting(s) but there wasn't any real messy strand-line for them to forage along.
What was weird was the sand. The dunes have been hammered by the seemingly unending succession of storms...more on the way this week. But this has meant that the sand has been redistributed, a lot will have been blown inland and lost as there is only a tiny remnant of the once huge dune system left now but the beach is about three feet lower than normal being washed to the north on the tidal drift. If Fleetwood wasn't made of concrete we'd probably have the starts of a sand and shingle spit like Spurn or Blakeney Point reaching out across towards Pilling leaving a brackish lagoon behind it...if only. Anyway getting back to the sand left on the beach as we walked on it it creaked. Now we've heard of the Roaring Dunes of Namibia, and one of our vols had been to the Whistling Beach in Wales when she was a your, but not a creaking beach. It sounded like walking on fresh crunchy snow - weird or what!
It was gloriously mild out there and and although out of the sun the temperature might only have been 4 or 5C in the sun it felt like a nice spring day and we had a right sweat on, tee-shirt sleeves would have been more suitable than the usual winter coat!
We walked back to the office along the wall and looking over it we saw many hundreds of gulls lower down the beach which we didn't see before for two reasons, concentrating looking for non-existant rubbish and we had high sand-banks between us and them. Now yesterday there was a little stunner up at the reserve we were with LCV at last week - why couldn't the Ross's Gull have been there then????? It went AWOL from there today and as far as we know hasn't been refound anywhere else - bet lots of eyes were looking though. It's got to be somewhere so why not on our beach? There are three others in the British Isles at the mo along with  Slaty Backed Gull over on the west coast of Ireland and a Franklin's Gull in the Inner Hebrides, just gull-tastic but we have no chance of going for any of them, more's the pity!
Where to next? Busy day tomorrow with only the chance of short Patch 2 watches morning and evening.
In the meantime let us know who's got all the gulls in your outback.

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