Thursday, 19 November 2015

Barney blows a bit of a hooley

The Safari has been getting a bit stir crazy confined to barracks so yesterday afternoon our bad hand felt quite good and we decided it was time to try a little drive once the tropical style rain had stopped. We didn't go far just down to the prom to watch the tide rise.
There was an increasing sou'westerly with heavy showers so we found the most sheltered place we could at the top of the cliffs. From our lofty vantage point we had a good view down the troughs between the waves so hopefully if anything came past we wouldn't miss it hidden behind the large waves.
Shower after shower rolled in but fortunately none lasted more than a few minutes giving us lots of rainbows. Our choice of shelter was good so we didn't get wet, thankfully it wasn't too cold either.
Without the scope we were a bit limited distance-wise but visibility in the squalls was limited anyway but all we kept finding was gulls cruising towards us along the cliff edge going to roost over the high tide further down the coast.
It was quite dramatic and exhilarating especially so as we've not been outside much over the last fortnight. 
Others were equally exhilarated which is good to see, and got even nearer to the action.
We missed the next big breaker which totally swamped the car, they drove off pretty quick after that!
There's always some poor guys that have to work in these challenging conditions.
Below us was the former boating pool now used as a go-kart track. At high tide there is a wader roost on the top wall or if windy on the high ledge on the inside of the wall. Today there was no chance of roosting on the top of the wall although a single Turnstone tried briefly before going elsewhere. The ledge was being washed by water slooshing through the drain holes so that was no good either. 77 Redshanks tucked themselves in behind the tryes marking the lanes of the race track but there were no other species with them, we'd hoped there might have been a Purple Sandpiper or two.
Looking north the visibility was good apart from the squalls and we were treated to yet more rainbows.
Someone's going to come back to their hotel room to find a crock of gold under the bed - that'd be a nice surprise!
Looking the other way was hopeless for spotting any wildlife but looking into the sun was extremely dramatic.
Shame the breaking wave on the far right is just out of frame
After a couple of hours stood scanning with not a bird in sight over the sea a bit of dark movement caught our eye amid the white water. It took five minutes of concentrating before we picked it up again a little nearer and not too far off the wall, a Bonxie and with it another large skua but this one was pale, a Pomarine Skua. Something was going on they didn't act like traveling companions the Pom stayed down on the water unless a white water breaker threatened to engulf it when it would lift up let the wave pass and drop to the surface again.Each time it did this the Bonxie did the same whether it too was going to engulfed or not, landing close behind it giving us the impression it wasn't being that friendly and was maybe waiting for the apparently weakened Pom to keel over then hey presto - lunch! We didn't see what happened as they drifted past us into the sunny side of our watch point. Interesting and certainly better than but but we would have liked a Leach's Petrel, Little Gulls, a Sabine's Gull and/or Grey Phalarope to come past...OK so we're greedy.
Time was pushing on and slowly but surely afternoon was turning to evening.
It was then we got a txt from CR asking if we'd like to meet him down by the pier to watch the Starlings coming in, we thought he'd be in for a soaking if he did that looking at the waves crashing over the wall down that way so we decided to give it a miss and head off back to Base Camp at 4 o'clock after the sunset if it was any good. 
It wasn't bad but we've seen better.
And moving to the sunny side of our vantage point also meant we were now on the windy side too and we got salt spray on the lens.
From here we also saw some Starlings making their way to the pier so we through caution to the wind - of which there was plenty! - and decided to join CR after all. It was a short drive down to where he was watching from so we went to get the car seeing a lovely illuminated cloud stretching above the roof tops with the moon close by too.
By the time we got to CR the sun had gone down behind the clouds and the sunset was lost too the coming night. He'd seen a couple of thousand Starlings come in breaking into two flocks, an end of the pier flock and a close to the shore under the pier flock and he told us the two flocks appeared to be keeping themselves separate. More flocks came in over our heads the largest one containing at least 1000 birds the others much smaller but by now the light was gone and there was no chance of getting any pics. It was great to see that there were a couple of other folk standing there with cameras snapping away and even people waiting for the tram at the nearby stop watching the rather pathetic mini-murmurations rather than looking down the line for their ride home. Even though it wasn't spectacular this evening the wildlife can sooth the soul after a hard day at work
Best pic of the day? Probably this perfectly (or extremely luckily) timed one...
At our visit with the consultant last night he told us he'd done OK with our hand, the result of his prodding and poking was as well as might be expected and was pleased with his handiwork - however looking at our 'good' hand he said "see you as early as possible in the new year for a good old delve around - it's not looking good at all".
Where to next? Wind's picking up again today so we might have another nip down the Prom, hopefully the sunset and the Starlings will coincide too.
in the meantime let us know who's making a splash in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

I feel totally refreshed after seeing those pics davyman!

cliff said...

Some cracking photos there Dave, very atmospheric. Only in Blackpool does it not seem strange to have astronauts suspended over the road.