Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A poor mid-winter day

The Safari was only able to get out onto Patch 2 for a few minutes first thing yesterday morning. There was little happening on the wide expanse of beach, where are all the gulls hanging out these days? There are precious few to work through loafing on the sands to our north in the good light now.
Out at sea only a handful of Common Scoters bobbed around distantly on the choppy sea, a tiny fraction of the 12000+ counted by other birders recently. An adult Kittiwake was the only other bird to pass by.
By lunchtime the tide was just about up to the wall, we’d been given a mission by our marine biologist friend DB to find some different species of seaweed for one of her colleague’s projects. No chance of getting on the beach but as luck would have it there was a large clump of Bladderwrack lying on the prom close to where we stood so that was duly bagged. We’d hazard a guess that it had got snagged round a fisherman’s line rather than been thrown over the wall by a large wave.
The rising tide had brought the Common Scoters a bit nearer, we could now see there were more than we originally thought and still no more than a couple of hundred or so but it was quiet out there even the scoters weren’t doing much flying around. On the point of giving up we found a Great Crested Grebe and then a flock of three Kittiwakes heading north.
We finished work as early as we could to take the long route back to Base Camp via a field full of geese. We packed the work scope in to the Land Rover and set off in heavy rain, not ideal conditions for picking out dodgy geese from a flock of many hundreds of Pink Footed Geese
Arriving at the site local birder FB was sat in his car his scope stuck out of the window. He had the best spot – well he would being the only one there – looking at the bulk of the flock over the gate into the field. We had to make do with a limited view of a small part of the flock and some of that through the fairly dense hedge either side of the gate.
After a while the rain stopped and FB was able to sneak cautiously out of his car and set his scope up on its tripod in a position from where the whole flock could be viewed – turned out to be a good move as it wasn’t many minutes before he’d located the odd one out; in a part of the field we had no chance of seeing from our position not five yards away from him. He kindly let us have a look through his scope at the ‘Tundra’ Bean Goose (107) at the back of the flock. Even in his top quality scope the light was far from good so we may well have not been able to pick it out in our cheap n cheerless Chinese rubbish we had with us - so many thanks to him for the look.
The rain dried up and the sun shone over the brow of the low hillock above the geese right into our faces and so a successful goose watch came to an end.
No photos of the goose were possible and there were few wildlife opportunities throughout the day,  those that did present themselves we didn’t twig at the time and so missed Day 87 of our mission to complete #100moredaysofnature – b*gger!
No Patch 2 watch was possible this morning due to desk duties.
Our lunchtime visit didn’t produce anything of any excitement but we are worried about a large bucket a few yards in advance of the incoming waves which contained a folded gill net. We deliberated if we could risk running out to collect it but it was too far down the beach for us to be able to get near it before the tide swirled around the sand banks – had we tried we’d have ended up cut off and another statistic in the coastguard’s rescue book. Hope it’s still there and still contained in the bucket tomorrow when we stand more of a chance of bring it in out of harm’s way – last thing we want is a few hundred yards of ghost net floating around for  months.
If by chance you were wondering where year bird #106 had gone, and you probably weren't, we have a bit of a confession to make. This evening when we arrived back at Base Camp there was a Long Tailed Tit (106, Garden #14) on our suet block feeder and another calling unseen nearby - it wasn't until we added the Bean Goose to our spreadsheet we noticed the oversight that we'd not added Long Tailed Tit to the list despite seeing them at the nature reserve a couple of times this year. Another garden year bird was seen as we hoped the second Lottie would come in to view, a couple of Starlings (Garden #15) flew over on their way to roost on the pier, we're driving past too early now to be able to watch the murmurations - never thought we'd be complaining the evenings are drawing out at last!
Another day without the opportunity for a #100moredaysofnature Tweet - not doing very well with them at the mo.
Wifey informs us that the local Great Tit was singing this morning - drove her bonkers last spring with its incessant  tea-cher tea-cher--ing
Where to next? More Patch 2 shenanigans, hopefully something will put in appearance as there’s a bit of weather on the way again apparently.
In the meantime let us know who needs containing in your outback.

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