Sunday, 14 December 2014

Certainly not Mediterranean today

The Safari picked up BD just before lunchtime and we headed off northwards over the river. We had a bit of an errand to sort out that 'needed' us to go to a birding hotspot - oh dear what a pity!
On the way we bypassed all the other birdy areas apart from an 'easy' Little Owl location. Well sometimes it's easy, today was cold wet and windy so not unexpectedly there was no owl so sadly no lifer for B. Disappointing, but not to worry there was a good chance of other lifers before too long. In some of the roadside fields there were large numbers of Black Headed Gulls and some fields simply oozed Curlews, not seen some many for a good few years, the number of Little Egrets round these parts is getting silly, one field had seven!
Our chore involved a brief visit to a pub, no time for drinking even though it did have Bowland Brewery's Hen Harrier on tap (and quality ciders too) we were sussing it for a visit with Wifey soon. The pub grounds and nearby farm held the largest congregation of Redwings we've seen this winter.
Visit done time for birding. We hit the car park at the estuary and went to the picnic benches which offer the first view of the river and marshes. Somewhere out there there is a Snow Goose so we scanned the marshes on the far side for white dots among the darker dots of Pink Footed Geese. All the white dots we saw were swans and there were no geese to be seen. We scanned far and wide until B said "there's a white thing with the Cormorants, is that a goose?" Spinning the scope round we confirmed his suspicions there was the Snow Goose (179) on edge of the mud bank with its feet in the river having a right old preen.
Thanks to BD for the steal of the pic - 2000mm handheld in the dark!
There wasn't much else along this stretch of the river, a few Lapwings, a Great Black Backed Gull and some Dunlins.
We had a look along the old railway track and saw a flock of Chaffinches drop in to a Hawthorn bush right over Frank's head from on high before continuing southwards at lower level. A few Wigeon were at the end of the creeks and under the bridge there were a couple of Redshanks and a dead immature swan as well as the ubiquitous Little Egret.
Moving round to the freshwater pool we approached with care but the Kingfisher wasn't on the concrete block on the other side of the screen. Little Grebes were numerous here with seven being counted. They were regularly popping up with small fish, their strike rate was quite impressive.
Back in the creeks on the other side road there were few waders, just Redshanks and a few Curlews,
but loads of ducks, Mallards, Teal and Wigeon.
He's got his pom-pom puffed up!
A journey round the lanes had us passing a large herd of Mute Swans in the fields and more Black Headed Gulls. We stopped at the old abandoned farmhouse but again the weather was against us for seeing the Little Owl that resides there.
The short winter day was now working against us and it was time to move on to see if we could find a Mediterranean Gull in the roost at the Twite site. A Jay squabbled with a Magpie in a roadside garden, a little unusual here we thought but we could be wrong. A cracking male Pheasant was far enough onto the grass verge not to become roadkill, not so the dithering female half a mile further on, she too made cover before going under the wheels as is the fate of so many thousands of others who's death then gets blamed on Buzzards, Pine Martens, Stoats, Weasels and any other predator you care to mention.
The wind on the embankment was quite strong and quite cool making view not as comfortable as it might have been.
The gull roost was disappointingly small but there was time for all the field-feeders to come in. No Twite today, the only small bird was the usual Robin the hops around the rocks of the sea defences.
Three Bar Tailed Godwits roosted on one leg (each, not between them!) and we wondered how they didn't get blown about, or even over, by the wind as we were being buffeted quite badly.
Also out on the windswept mudflats were plenty of Dunlins, Lapwings and the corvid murmuration that seems to be a regular occurrence here. A flock of Golden Plovers flew past but landed too far down the beach to be easily viewable against the lowering light. Shelducks wandered about but still no more gulls appeared as the light started to fail.
Time to call it a day without poor B finding his first Med Gull, he'll get one soon rather than later we hope.
Where to next? Something good on Patch 2 would be nice, should be able to get two looks at it tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what's become ubiquitous in your outback

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