Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Three bites at the cherry today

The Safari was able to get out on to Patch 2 this morning and by eck was it nippy out there. A keen  northerly wind was blowing and for just about the first time this season it actually felt wintery.
In the stiffening wind the sea was well chopped up and there wasn't much about other than a few Common Scoters on our first scan.Putting as much back to the wind as we could we looked to the south west where we found a bit of a feeding frenzy going on almost on the horizon. Hard to tell what was happening with the distance, the chop, the wind and perhaps unusually in these conditions quite a bit of haze. There were about 50 each of mixed gulls and Cormorants spread over a fairly large area with more Cormorants coming in from all angles to join the fray. Conditions made it impossible to tell if anything blubbery was involved.
A nice close fly-by from a Red Throated Diver was easily best of the rest.
At lunchtime we didn't have long to look as we were leading a beach clean immediately after our break. But this meant we had to look at the access to the beach to see if wellies would be needed or not - they would be - - they always are! At the bottom of the slipway there was a Sanderling feeding at the edge of the runnel we'd have to cross. It's not often we see this species so close to the wall especially when the tide is well out. Time to nip back in to the office and swap the scope fro the camera.
The trouble with Sanderlings is they don't keep still and this one's clockwork legs had taken it well down the beach by the time we'd returned. Time to run along the prom to try to get in front of it and wait. The trouble then was we'd be shooting in to the light so we had to wait until it was level and then past us so we ended up closer but still shooting up it's backside.
It did us a favour and led us to a feeding Redshank which perhaps might have ordinarily flown off but as the Sanderling wasn't disturbed tolerated our position a little more than they normally do.
Time to leave the birds and get ready for our beach clean, for which we sadly had no takers in the end. As much as we'd like to we can't really use the time out on the beach if there's no-one to work with so office bound we were for the rest of the afternoon.
Home time approached and as it did the sun shining strongly through the window and on to our monitor suggested a sunset could be on the cards - great stuff, the Starlings are back in play we thought.
We couldn't get down the Prom fast enough and soon saw about 1500 whirling around Central Pier so we pulled over into one of the taxi ranks to get out of the stream of traffic. The traffic was slow and many of the murmurators  had already gone in under the superstructure to roost.
The last of the daylight was fading fast and we didn't know if we'd make it to North Pier in time. We just about did but again many of the Starlings had already gone in to roost. Here there seems to be two separate murmurations about 5000 at the far end of the pier and another 2000 at the landward end and they don't seem to mix much. All the action this evening was at the landward end where a TV crew looked to be filming them.
More big flocks came over from inland but all these went straight to the far end and under the pier without murmurating totally ignoring the smaller number still murmurating - how odd!
Where to next? More Patch 2 stuff and maybe something a little different too if we get the chance.
In the meantime let us know who's got the feeding frenzy going in your outback.

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