The Safari has at last seen a Swift (149). It was scything through the cold grey sky being buffeted by the blustery wind when we were out with Frank first thing this morning. we stood and watched as it carved its way through the air northwards without lingering; we just stood there with a smile on our face and a dog lead in hand mesmerised for a few moments, a tiny tear of uncontrollable joy welled up in the corner of our eye, soppy devil that we are - what is it about these things, Blackcaps sound beautiful, Swallows are super, Whimbrels are wonderful but Swifts are just simply special!
This one was a full 20 days later than our first last year although they have been 'in' locally for about a week.
As we left for work a lone House Martin flew along the street at speed heading due north, how we miss the chitterings of these around the eaves, one of THE sounds of our farming youth. Neither species was close enough to Base Camp airspace to go on the garden list. We will get Swift on the list but that could have been the nearest a House Martin will get this year, they've only been recorded in Base Camp airspace one year in the last four, 2011. House Martins are an enigma - apart from at their nests we don't know that much about them and especially at their wintering grounds wherever in sub- Saharan Africa they might be!
A pair of Grey Lag Geese flew over as we left too and these did make our airspace (Garden #27)
Patch 2 on the dropping tide and in very windy conditions gave us very little, just a few distant terns and a couple of very distant Gannets.
At lunchtime the wind didn't seem quite so bad and it felt more like March than February now the sun had come out. A steady procession of Gannets came by, probably approaching 100 altogether while a single drake Common Scoter bobbed around on the heavy sea just behind the surf. Some of the Gannets weren't far beyond him either, close enough to see their yellow heads which is rarely the case here.
Smatterings of Manx Shearwaters passed by sometimes northwards and sometimes southbound so we couldn't tell you if we were double counting or not, one was really close in and offered find views as it effortlessly cruised by with barely a flicker of the wings - a masterclass in technical gliding! Like Swifts there is something magical almost mythical about Manxies.
Another Swift appeared on our teatime walk with Frank and this one might well have sped into a roof space they were using last year cos we certainly didn't see it reappear over the roof tops nor did it double back. The local House Sparrows in the roof on the opposite corner of the street have chick too, the noise of begging when dad perched up before diving under the tiles was quite something!
So not a bad day after all but still no skuas or Little Terns - one of the later turned up AGAIN at the nature reserve, none for 21 years (as far as we know) and then two on consecutive days! And an Arctic Tern there too...what will be there when we head over that way on Sunday...not a lot probably but you never know!
Where to next? Got a few days off but can't decide if where to go early doors tomorrow morning, coast or inland or just stay in bed...we'll see what the weather is up to and then decide. But do we twitch the local Turkey Vulture 'just in case'?
In the meantime let us know what's brought a little tear to your eye in your outback - and don't say hay-fever!