The Safari got to thinking that watching wildlife and birding isn't a hobby it's a way of life and no matter what the weather's like we've just got to get outside and see what we can see.
We'd sort of decided to go down to Chat Alley for the high tide today seeing as how it was extremely windy and there was a chance something might be blown in. However news broke mid-morning that a potential year bird was still present at the other end of the motorway.
Looking out of the window the trees shook to their roots and the rain hammered down, it was wild out there. We offered CR a lift but he, probably sensibly, declined.
The wind increased even more but the rain eased and there were even a few small fleeting patches of blue sky, that was our cue to put our coat on grab the bins and head out.
As we drove light showers blew through but there was more and bigger bits of blue sky, the day was looking up...until we arrived on site!!!
It took a full five minutes for a squall from hell to blow over before we dared get out of the car, then it was a quick dash to the large, well built, comfy, double glazed 'Look Out' hide from where our quarry had been seen earlier in the day.
Normally we'd rather be outside than in a hide but today we were very very glad of the shelter. The wind increased some more, our weather app on the phone showed gusts of 95 mph not too far away across the bay from Patch 1, at the top of the high mountains it would have been well over 100 mph!
In the relative 'calm' of inland the wind whipped spray off the little waves racing across the lake like spin-drift off snow. When it did rain it rained horizontal torrents, wafting great grey sheets of water pummeled the lake surface. There was no way our little bird was going to show. Patience is a virtue and the birders best friend. After about half an hour the rain eased a hint of blue appeared in the sky and despite the horrendous wind our hopes rose.
A tiny movement caught our eye well in front of the area we were looking at and sure enough once we'd got on it it was the Black Redstart (199).
It hoped about a bit on the ground around some light cover of rushes and Willow and Alder saplings. Following it was hard as it kept dropping into slight gullies. Eventually it showed quite well and found an enormously huge caterpillar which it had to break up to eat. Once it had finished it just sat there in the best shelter it could find looking full.
And sit there and sit there is all it did for the next 20 minutes or so as the weather deteriorated and the rain came down in sweeping bucketfuls again. A lull in the rain had it on the move again but it still stayed deep in cover.
After what seemed like an age it did eventually begin to stray out of the 'shelter' of the saplings come a bit nearer.
Rain soaked double glazed windows aren't ideal for photography and don't make for easy viewing with the bins but they were very welcome today! We did get some cracking views through our bins even though we were in the hide, somewhat annoyingly as we didn't see the Hobby last time we were here and hardly spent any time in any of the hides.
Braving the elements were a selection of waterfowl, Coots and a couple of drake Goldeneyes being the toughest out in the middle of the lake, the others, Teal, Tufted Ducks, Mute Swans and just one Wigeon tucked up on the far bank as best they could out of the wind. There was a bit of coming and going of Black Headed Gulls and a single Great Black Back Gull but in general there wasn't much risking being airborne.
Once we'd had our fill of the Black Redstart we headed back along the motorway to Chat Alley. Even though high tide was well past the waves still thundered against the sea wall. We had about quarter of an hour of trying to sneak a view round the corner without being buffeted to kingdom come and not seeing anything before we gave up. Below us the go-kart track had regained its original status as a boating pool, the tyres marking the track and the shipping containers containing all the kit were afloat. It's certainly been a humdinger of a stormy day!
Where to next? Might get a bit of a morning watch on Patch 1 if it's mot lashing down with rain, not sure about lunchtime as the wind and tide may make a visit impossible.In the meantime let us know who kindly broke shelter in your outback.