Tuesday, 5 January 2016

At last a mammal

The Safari was out on Patch 2 again and today the viewing conditions were a lot  better, brighter light, tide still up and the sea fairly calm and shadowless. It looked like a good day for finding a cetacean or two.
Leaning over the wall we immediately saw three Turnstones (62, P2 #20) roosting on the seaweed covered concrete directly  below us, a single Oystercatcher was also down there.
With the tide still up the sand banks in the distance were still covered so there was no massive Cormorant roost to be seen today although 111 did fly past us heading out to sea in three flocks and several others were either flying about in ones and twos or already in the water fishing - there must be a decent amount of food out there for them. A close in Great Crested Grebe hit the notebook and a huge flock of six Oystercatchers flew by. With it all a bit quieter than we'd hoped we turned to leave but just about caught the hint of calling geese on the wind, turning back to face the sea we watched as about 200 Pink Footed Geese (P2 #21) came in off and flew right over our head - An awesome spectacle but best not to look up with your mouth open!  
As usual we were out again at lunchtime and by now a sort of miracle had occurred - the sun was out for just about the first time this year, unfortunately that made looking south dangerously glarey and we value our retinas quite highly. 
Looking north we found a couple of hundred or so Common Scoters but a bit distant and in a tidal pool on the beach there was a good count,for here , of 35 Redshanks. Looking as far to the south as we dared was where we found our first mammal of the year, a Grey Seal not too far out to sea but still a long way off as the tide was now well out.
Checking the other runnels for any more waders gave us a solitary Sanderling poking around the feet of a group of Herring Gulls and way way out to sea beyond them we caught a glimpse of a white dot flying low over the water which eventually turned into a Red Throated Diver (63, P2 #22).
We couldn't stand the excitement any longer and returned across the road again deciding to have a shuffy round the gardens. It was crawling with dog walkers so we cut our walk short and peered over the fence into the pond to see if the annoying and very secretive Goldfish was showing itself - it wasn't but we did hear a Dunnock (P2 #23) calling from the hedge somewhere near the feeders. 
However ti wasn't the Dunnock that was the most exciting thing we found oh no not at all...What month is it? January and only the first week of that wintry month but looking in to the crystal clear waters of the pond we saw new Water Lily leaves floating on the surface and others unfurling just below, Flag Iris leaves were also bubbling under.
Not only that one of the Water Lily plants has a flower bud, only about six months early!!!
We have a school group coming at the end of next week to do some scientific observations - will it be open by then? If nothing else we'll know the temperature of the water as they will be bringing their thermometers with them as part of their studies.
Our drive home along the Prom took us past first a small murmuration of about 300 Starlings at Central Pier then a much larger but more spread out one of around 5000 birds at the town centre's North Pier. Impressive, although we didn't stop as there was no sunset and we didn't see anymore arriving over the rooftops as we continued in the stream of traffic. What was good to see was a burly bloke stood outside of one of the Promenade bars hands on hips in the heavy drizzle watching them, looked like he'd come outside for a ciggy finished it but got mesmerised by the action  over the pier - good stuff!
Where to next? There's plenty more excitement to be had on Patch 2 this week and tomorrow looks like being another day of cetacean spotting friendly sea conditions.
In the meantime let us know who's bobbing about on the beautify briny sea (or lake) in your outback

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Had some Greylags fly over here for the year list Davyman, but would dearly love one of those Pink foot or two for my patch list!