Monday, 22 February 2016

A modicum of excitement on the South Side

The Safari had a big family get-together to attend on Saturday. Down the motorway we drove through atrocious weather to our destination. Once off the motorway we were onto minor roads and country lanes were we spotted a pair of Red Legged Partridges in a field close to the roadside. We refuse to count these but Wifey has added them to her first ever year-list bringing her up to 47. She also has Red Kite on her list which we don't have from her business trip down to London early in the new year. Hopefully we'll catch that one back at some time in the next 10 months. Her target is 100 which she should be able to reach given a favourable wind.
We don't count Red Legged Partridges as they are introduced willy-nilly into the countryside by the shooting estates. They're a non-native species but there's no licensing, no risk assessments, no environmental impact assessments, no limit on numbers; quite unlike the hoops that have to jumped through to release formerly native species like pilot schemes, stakeholder involvement, reports and debates before anything significant can happen - come on pull your fingers out bring on the Lynx and Beaver this year, even desperately needed tree planting can have significant barriers put up before it actually happens.  We saw too other partridges a hundred yards further on which were likely the same but by the time we got to them they'd gone out of view from the car at the bottom of the road's embankment. They could have been Grey Partridge, wishful thinking probably, this area used to be somewhat of a stronghold for that species when we were a lot younger.
The rain had just about stopped by the time we arrived at our destination and as we walked across the car park a Buzzard flew over. This would have been unheard of back in the day and if it had have been heard of wouldn't have ended well for the Buzzard at the hands of the local gamekeeper so we suppose there is something to be thankful for although the game 'industry' is still a long long way from perfect.
Once our big family do was over we headed back to Ma n Da's for tea and a bun or more accurately birthday cake. On the way a second Buzzard was seen wafting on raised wings over the fields upsetting the local Carrion Crows and a Magpie. Two Buzzards in an afternoon, that's more than we had in over a decade of birding round there as a kid!
The fields to our left had good numbers of Lapwings in them but we couldn't pick out any Golden Plovers which used to be quite numerous round these parts and may still be. Another sight from our dim and distant past was a huge flock of Pink Footed Geese grazing on the right hand side of the road, they are probably more numerous now than back then.
A brief interlude saw us heading to the beach to meet R n S and their new dog, a young little rescued terrier named Rogue. As we left the house a Sparrowhawk was displaying over the few remaining tree tops. When we lived there they were still suffering the catastrophic effects of DDT and were still persecuted without mercy by the gamekeepers, we'd see maybe one or two a year and even then have to travel a few miles to the pinewoods for the privilege.
At the beach Rogue lived up to his name as he decided we were some kine of tasty giant sausage and proceeded to try to eat a leg, arm, buttock or anything else he could get his sharp little teeth into! We walked the 'wrong' way for seeing the best of the birds on the beach and by late afternoon most had been disturbed by the countless other dog walkers so were well out of non-binocular range anyway. We were hoping for a Bar Tailed Godwit or two as this stretch of beach used to be a bit of hotspot for them - probably still is on the less disturbed areas to the north - assuming they are still less disturbed, too many dog walkers have a habit of going precisely where they really shouldn't be.
our walk on the beach gave us, as well as bite marks from Rogue, a couple of Mermaid's Purses from Thornback Rays and a few pieces of sea-coal for the fire back at Base Camp. Somewhat strangely, we thought, there weren't many shells on this part of the beach although there could have been plenty lower down nearer the water's edge we only strayed a few yards from the sea wall.
The walk did allow us to get up close and personal with a couple of Antony Gormley's 100 iron men. One day we'll visit and actually take a photo of them, not that you could get all 100 in one pic except probably from a plane way up high but then the effect would be lost - well worth a visit if your passing.
Back at Base Camp on Sunday we most unusually spent all day indoors, well the weather was rotten. We had a bit of a work project to do which couldn't be done at work involving a stack of filled SD cards and a marine biology theme for a bit of an arty project on our own promenade some time soon(ish) if sufficient funds can be garnered from a suitable grant source.
This morning when we awoke a Song Thrush was giving it plenty at the top of its syrinx but sadly we haven't heard the local Mistle Thrush at all, surely he should be singing by now locally extinct? We sincerely hope not but sightings are very few and far between round these part now...not good!
No excitement from both visits to a very choppy Patch 2 sea today although watching a Redshank catch Brown Shrimps at almost every prod of it's bill as the tide dropped off the wall was worth going out for. Had we taken the camera today it would have made for a good bit of video.
Where to next? Another bit of trip southwards tomorrow, a bit further this time but probably not a lot of wildlife just a wild time.
In the meantime let us know who's not as welcome as their dapper appearance would suggest in your outback

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