The Safari was out at lunchtime as is usual on a Sunday - we can't get out any earlier - and our first port of call was to pick up BD in the town centre before turning the Land Rover round and heading north.
As we pulled into the car park there was a bloke scoping our quarry in the space between two vans - good job we hadn't sped in to the parking spot as we only saw him at the last minute and could have squished him!
Still he was decent enough to point out that amongst the dozen or so Turnstones (82) was the gorgeousness that is the long staying Shore Lark (83). We still haven't got a decent close up pic of it but do we really need to it's enough just to keep popping up here to enjoy it and long may it continue to stay - we could come everyday and still not get tired of seeing it.
Before we could get all the kit including camera out of the Land Rover a flippin dog walker flushed it over on to the beach. Off went to have a look for it. The wind the other side of the low dunes was fierce and cold, holding the bins still enough to see anything was tricky!
We tried our best but couldn't find it but did see a good number of Ringed Plovers hunkered well down behind the beach pebbles.
Two ladies arrived scopes in hand and asked if we'd seen the Shore Lark - we hadn't but all was not lost as after about five minutes searching B called out he'd got it and gave us rock by rock directions to it. Our ladies were well happy as their scope views were pretty good.
After a good look at the lark and enjoying some Turnstones also hunkered down with the plovers and a couple of Sanderlings working the incoming tide we had a quick look out to sea but the visibility was shocking so back to the car park it was.
And there was the Shore Lark, back on the grass with some more Turnstones...who'd have thunk it.
Our next stop was just along the way at the still drained marine lake where a number of gulls were roosting including two Great Black Backs. OK gulls are great but they weren't our main target here, that was somewhere in amongst the ranked masses of Redshanks and Turnstones. We couldn't see it at first and had to leave the shelter of the shelter and wander further along the bank of the lake to get a better angle 'round the corner' of the island where the roosting flock continued.
And amongst that flock was the smaller, darker form of one of the Purple Sandpipers (84). Not the best views as it had its back to us and its head under its wing fast asleep.
From there it was off to the nearby nature park (aka dog walking hell-hole) where not unsurprisingly we saw no other naturalists and shed loads of dog walkers - good job we had a dog with us then isn't it! The prime purpose of our visit here was to check out the pools and shed roofs for any out of the ordinary gulls. There were plenty of 'ordinary' gulls but no out-of-the-ordinary gulls, most of the gulls were flying around rather than roosting on the roof where it might have been a bit windy for them.
A flock of small birds landed on the far side of the accessible pool and we sent B round to get a look/pic at them but somehow they'd vanished by the time he got round there - neither of us saw them fly off but they weren't there! They could have Linnets but there could have been a Twite or two with them or vise versa.
It was cruelly cold out there and once the gulls had decided not to give up their secrets we headed off elsewhere...the nature reserve to be precise. But we had a plan...we took BD the long way round to the waste depot with the Iceland Gull, the depot had just closed there were workers' vans about to leave and the machine was parked up in the shed making for zero gulls loafing around on the roof.
If there were any gulls on the mere they weren't in front of the FBC Hide, indeed very little was there.
There were a few Teal tucked against the reeds, still displaying despite the strong cold wind and driving rain, and a few Coots, toughing it out on the open water. Across on the island were a handful of Cormorants, one really strikingly white headed, a some Mallards, the drakes now looking very dapper in their breeding finery.
In the reeds behind the island a Reed Bunting (MMLNR #46) dropped to roost and in an Apple tree beyond that at least 18 Magpies gathered before moving on to their main roost in the zoo.
And then the weather was too much for the pair of us and called it a day. Not the best day's safari-ing we've ever had but it wasn't all that bad in the end, was it?
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 to see what the storms might have brought in.
In the meantime let us know who's got their head down in your outback.