Monday, 1 August 2016

National Whale and Dolphin Watch draws to a close

The Safari was sat out on the cliffs at the start of Chat Alley for four hours yesterday, ever hopeful some blubber might swim by. The sky was mostly broken cloud and there was a stiff north westerly blowing which was cool bordering on downright cold. For the first time this week we had no volunteers watchers to help us so we had to swap from watching near with the bins to far with the scope on successive scans. It soon became apparent that there was very little action out there. After the full four hours we'd only seen three Gannets and two Common Scoters and not a single tern of any species, there must be a total lack of fish in all that sea we could see!
Several punters stopped for a chat to find out more about the watch and most were incredulous that it was possible to see cetaceans, and even Grey Seals for some, off the promenade. Unfortunately we had nothing to show them, no sign of any Grey Seals today after yesterday's two down at the south end.
Behind us we regularly heard chirruping House Sparrows in the little garden''s hedge and heard a Pied Wagtail go over. Other than those and the local gulls it was one of the quietest watches we've ever done. We kept our eye on the Lune Deeps to the north of us as the tide dropped almost willing the Bottlenose Dolphins to appear - they didn't.
With a few minutes short of an hour to go PL strolled along and was surprised to see us sitting there. He'd been on the look out for migrants, mostly in the hope of a Wheatear but had had no joy at all. It seemed to be a duff day all round. We had a good long chat as we've not met up for a while, a Pied Wagtail flew past but didn't stop in front of his camera.
As the tide dropped and the beach and sandbanks became uncovered the gulls dropped down to see what titbits the receding waters had left. A family of Great Black Backed Gulls had come across the remains of what could have been a long dead bird or fish, we think more likely fish but it was hard to tell at the range they were. Junior wanted part of it but pops wasn't for sharing and kept turning his back on his offspring as he tried to neck the tangle of rotting flesh. At one point it was almost down when the youngster grabbed the last bit and tried to pull it out of pop's gullet. It didn't manage it and that was the last anyone will see of whatever it was - down it eventually went.
Below us in a patch of floating seaweed just off the seawall a juvenile Herring Gull was interesting in something in the flotsam. Turning the scope on to it we could see it was a dead bird, possibly another Herring Gull but again a bit to distant and mashed up to be able to tell. After a few exploratory pecks the live gull gave up on the chance of a cannibalistic meal and drifted away on the tide.
The two o'clock bell rang signalling the end of our watch and we packed all the gear away to take to the car. Crikey we were cold, we'd had a t-shirt on and a fleece jacket with our NWDW t-shirt over the top but those three layers hadn't really been enough to keep the wind at bay for four hours. Our hands were blue from the cold and once back at Base Camp we still felt cold after two back to back cuppas and that cold lasted the rest of the afternoon and into the evening - reckon we had the beginnings of hypothermia - - the things we do for wildlife eh! We must be mad!
This morning we were out on Patch 2 for our regular short early doors watch again to see five Gannets, several Sandwich Terns, a small flock of Common Scoters and would you believe it a couple of brief glimpses of a Harbour Porpoise - you just couldn't write it could you!
Our lunchtime session on Patch 2 gave us a few passing Sandwich Terns and three Grey Seals.
Since we've been back to work this last month we've added a couple of species to our Patch 2 Patchwork Challenge list, namely Swift and House Martin (out of area for our 'normal P2 list) and Common Tern, Swallow and Shelduck which take our P2 list to 68.
Where to next? More Patch 2 news tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's chomping on who in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Whilst you were shivering on North Prom we we're basking in lovely sunshine on the beach at St Annes. The girls even stopped for an ice cream.
On the subject of dead stuff washing up, there was a dead Grey Heron on the beach at St Annes, it'd been dead quite a while, just the beak giving away what it once was.