Saturday, 6 December 2014

Quick cold visit to the coast

The Safari was out of action yesterday due to a mission of mercy to our elderly Pa who was hospitalised last weekend - thankfully all seems almost in order now.
A few days ago a rather nice little dickie-bird turned up on the coast just to the north of us and we have been sitting at our desk grinding our back teeth in frustration at not being able to go to see it. Everyone else and his  uncle seemed to have managed it but with no light after work we've had to be patient and that hasn't been easy! 
We thought that with a partial day off yesterday we might have had time to get there before setting of to Ma n Da's but in the end there wasn't. Then last night the weather settled calm cold and clear, surely it would do a bunk and continue on it's travels but then again we had seen some pics of it with seeds in its bill and this species can stay around a while if it gets settled so all might not have been lost.
The drive down to Ma n Da's was done in miserable conditions so we weren't able to play our usual Buzzards v Kestrels motorway counting game.
As we arrived there a Mistle Thrush flew from the chmney of one of the houses on the opposite side of the street - nice to see they are still around we recorded them fairly regularly during the time we lived there in the early 70s.
Another species we saw regularly in that part of the world was Pink Footed Geese, occasionally they'd be on our school field, or at least until the rugby playing hordes and cross-country runners left the changing rooms. From the garden we could hear the murmuring conversation of what sounded more like a settled flock than an overflying skein but it's quite a way (c800 yards) from the garden to the nearest fields; could the sound travel that far on the light wind? Anyway it was nice to stand there listening to them for a few minutes even if we couldn't see them.
Whilst chatting away to Pa in the sitting room mid-afternoon a reasonable sized flock of large waders flew over the garden just above tree top height heading north west. We darted from our chair to the window but without bins couldn't get anything on them before they were lost from view, one of three probably Bar Tailed Godwits, Curlews or perhaps less likely Black Tailed Godwits, either of the godwits would have been a 'former patch' tick.
Before we left for Base Camp a quick constitutional for Frank saw us enjoying the almost full moon shining brightly through the bare branches of the now larger Beech tree that we used to use as a cricket wicket much to the concern of all the neighbours fearing for their windows! We fumbled though our pockets for our phone to get a pic only to realise it was still on the kitchen table.
Last night we had hoped for an early dart up the coast at first light but Wifey scuppered that plan by volunteering us to give a lift to our brother-in-law to an appointment he had at 09.00. Fortunately he wasn't long and we 'allowed' an hour to go twitching.
The trouble was it was now mid-morning and every slow gimmer was out on the road and it took us nearly an hour to go the seven miles through the Christmas shopping traffic.
We made it to the site to se a crowd of about 30 birders huddled together in the stiff cold wind. All seemed to be looking downwards at the shingle so our quarry was still there. But would it be for much longer? 
From the other side a dog-walker appeared on the beach  heading straight towards the bird and had already flushed a reasonable sized roost of Sanderlings and Turnstones. The birders furthest from us started waving their arms and shouting, to her 'credit' she shortened the dogs roamer lead by about half bjt still walked between us and the bird, would have been far more courteous the leave the beach and walk round the back of the group but no she's probably walked that route day in day out for years so far too mcuh like hard work to veer off thirty yards.
Thankfully our quarry didn't fluch just ran a little further away and as we were so pressed for time we could only have a quick look through our nins and fire off a few shots before having to leave it, hopefully for another day.
So what was all the fuss about? A Shore Lark (178), apparently the first on this stretch of beach since 1970 although we have seen one (or was it more) just south of Patch 2 in the 90s.
Most of our pics looked like this or worse as it was very active and mostly feeding facing the onshore wind.
Luckily when we downloaded the camera back at Base Camp there was just one showing its lovely yellow face.

For a proper look at it have a shuffy at BD's and Fylde Bird Club's pics, practically running over peoples boots apparently!
Where to next? Most probably a chilly safari tot the nature reserve tomorrow arvo to be guide in the hide for a few hours - a Bittern or the Otters would be nice! Think we'll take a flask!!!
In the meantime let us know who's distant conversations you've been eavesdropping in on in your outback.

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