Sunday, 23 March 2014

Back on dry land

The Safari had a nautical adventure yesterday. An early start saw us in the port of Birkenhead across the river from it's bigger and more illustrious sibling Liverpool. Bang on time our ferry departed its berth and we started our seabird and mammal survey from the bridge of the ship once the captain had maneuvered the vessel in to the middle of the river and pointed it towards the open sea. There are often Harbour Porpoises to be seen in the river but sadly not today.
Once out of the shelter of land the open sea was rough. The conditions not really conducive to finding sea mammals but a selection of seabirds made the most of the wind Kittiwakes and other gulls were careening this way and that and wasn't long before we saw our first Gannet (118) of the year. This part of the Irish Sea is crawling with Common Scoters but the ferry's route must be just outside of their favoured areas as we only saw two parties of three.
Rain showers obscured our view out of the windows with monotonous regularity, a few small parties of mixed Guillemots and Razorbills were seen but nothing liked the huge autumn flocks which contain all the juveniles and of course many will have perished in the storms. A Fulmar (119) cruised past, the first of several.
As we approached Belfast the sky broke in a series of sunny spells and hefty hail showers giving us epic  dramatic skies to enjoy.
As the water narrows towards Belfast harbour there is the hope of Black Guillemots and today was no exception with three of the little stunners seen (120). A good flock of Common Scoters were here to and deep in the harbour a pair of 'normal' Guillemots nearly got run over by the boat. By now it was nearly dark and this pic was taken at just 1/20th of a second so a long way off sharp.




The only mammal we saw was after our survey had finished and the boat was turning to reverse onto its berth. Facing back the way we'd come we saw a dark shape in the water which was one of the harbour's regular Harbour (aka Common) Seals.
Today we had a lazy chilling day after all the concentrating yesterday but we did have a good reason for waiting in. Our Extreme Photographer had told  us he had something for us...a new bat box....and he'd be round later in th afternoon to help fit it.
Great stuff, we're well chuffed - all we need now are some bats.
While the ladder was out he had a look at our Swift box before they return for Africa but it looks like it might be on its last legs. A Great Tit has been roosting in there and left the gaff in a bit of mess - squatters ehh a real menace!
Where to next? Back to our land-lubbing Patch 2 version of sewatching tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's been sneaking in where they shouldn't in your outback


3 comments:

Heather Wilde said...

Shame you didn't get any mammals, but a great way to pass some time all the same. Extreme photographer becomes the photographed :)

Michael Blahm said...
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Michael Blahm said...
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