Thursday, 18 June 2015

Well if you're not using the seat I will

The Safari was driving up the hill we saw a blob on the tower so turned into the street and pulled up in the alleyway to see it was a nice male Kestrel not a Peregrine, they seem to have abandoned the tower now we’ve not seen one up there for many months. It was eating a bird as we could see feathers falling. Nearby on the grass there was a pile of feathers very close to the row of tall conifers but given the location they were perhaps more Sparrowhawk plucky than from the Kestrel’s kill. Not the Peregrine but still a good find for Patch 1 they’re not particularly regular over this way.
The sea didn’t look that promising for a Patch 2 look as we drove down the Prom, the tide was well out and the sea very lumpy in the strong cold wind. We gave it a go all the same and were rewarded with a handsome adult Yellow Legged Gull wandering around on the sand with a few Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls looking for whatever tasty morsels the tide had left behind. We got to wondering if it was the same individual that we saw a few years ago during the National Whale & Dolphin Watch in the town centre
A few Manx Shearwaters passed by in the middle distance, then half a dozen more really close in only a few yards behind the surf, it’s not often we see them that close. A Gannet cruised by and as we were scanning back to see if there were any more in the direction it had come from  we picked up and all dark long winged bird coming towards us again only a few yards behind the surf. Splendid views of an immature Arctic Skua were enjoyed as it came slowly northbound past us. Once again it’s not often we see that that close in.
Lunchtime was disappointingly poor by comparison with barely anything other than a few Herring Gulls seen. We went out again at tea-time before our Beaver group arrived and were rewarded with five Gannets fishing very actively close in shore and not far to the south. Fantastic it was watching them stoop and dive into very shallow water; sadly it was too choppy to see if they brought anything to the surface. We counted how long it took between entering the water and popping back up again. Not unsurprisingly most dives were over in a matter of seconds seeing as how shallow the water was but a few were around 10 seconds and the longest 15 seconds with the bird reappearing quite a way from where it entered the water so must have had quite a chase to catch its fish, maybe it didn’t. After a good 20 minutes of intense feeding their dives became more infrequent and irregular before they all drifted away into the distance over the silvery sea.
The Beavers came and ransacked the pond, finding another Darter dragonfly nymph a little smaller than yesterdays. There were a lot of snails but not a lot else, the cold spring really has slowed the pond life down this year there should be much more in there. The mini-beast hunts were poor compared to yesterday too. Yesterday we got sunburnt arms from being in the field with the children all day, today we could have done with a thicker jumper and a woolly hat – it was freezing! At least the rain had stopped before they arrived but finding bugs other than Woodlice and Pill Bugs was difficult. Another fairly large spider was potted and again several of the youngsters were brave enough to have her crawl on their hands while their leaders ran for cover!
The earlier rain had brought lots of Garden Snails out of hiding so a good old fashioned snail race was enjoyed.  

Here's a few pic from the work's garden
Fox & cubs
Ox-eye Daisies, Creeping Buttercups, Perennial Cornflower, Fox & cubs
Viper's Bugloss
White Campion
Merodon equestris - we've not seen this all dark form before
Chrysotoxum festivum - perhaps
Where to next? More Patch 2 dolphin hoping tomorrow, apparently there's about 50 out there,
In the meantime let us know who's sitting in whose seat in your outback

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