Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The robin twitters his autumn song

The Safari was home late from work today and as we opened the car door we heard the distinctive twitterings of a Robin from the back garden. It was the autumn song in a 'minor key' we heard rather than the 'major key' of the spring song. The night's are drawing in and migrants are in the air.
Yesterday morning we got an early call from AB saying the weekend's Purple Sandpiper that had been found on Patch 2 was still there. We were on our way out anyway and soon found AB looking at the bird below us on the beach. As we made our way to the steps to join him a Peregrine flew over our head, only our second on Patch 2 this year. Down on the beach we had a quick look at the Purple Sandpiper (169, P2 #71) which walked along the bottom of the wall with about a dozen Turnstones and then promptly went to sleep. Sadly we were short of time and the office was beckoning so we couldn't stay out much longer and had to 'tick n run'.
Just as well as the rain started and by eck did it come down, flood warnings were issued on some of the local rivers. Fortunately it eased by our late lunchtime and we were able out get out again but by now the tide was high and the sea fairly rough so the Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers had gone elsewhere to roost.
Passing us going south in dribs and drabs were about 30 Sandwich Terns. In the distance the gulls were mooching around off shore. We spotted a couple of more distant birds swirling around which turned out to be a couple of Arctic Skuas. After a few circuits of the gulls and not finding anything to steal from them they drifted out to sea away from us.
Today we had another look for the Purple Sandpiper but wasn't able to find it. It may have gone or been elsewhere along the wall but we had a group coming so didn't have time to go searching further afield. Some Turnstones were on the rocks as usual.
But far more unusual were three Common Sandpipers that were mooching around at the edge of one of the runnels close to the bottom of the wall. They wouldn't keep still nor would they allow close approach.
Our group arrived and we were soon on our way back on the beach with pots and nets. As we walked down the slipway what we presume was a fourth Common Sandpiper flew past us. We're pretty sure it was a different one as the others had moved way down the beach together when we left earlier and we think any further disturbance would probably have pushed them even further south on their journey to the tropics.
The children soon had some super finds to show us including two tiny Common Starfish neither more than half an inch across. Soon plenty of juvenile Blennies were in the pots as were good numbers of Common Prawns but all small juveniles, we didn't find any big adults today. There were also some small Green Shore Crabs but it wasn't until almost the end of the session that we found a large one to show the children. 
Right at the end of the session we overhead a dog walker pulling her mutt away from something on the beach, at first we thought she said "jellyfish" but she had actually said "dogfish". As the group were getting ready to leave we went to investigate - it was indeed a dead dogfish,  - or at least a Lesser Spotted Catshark, a victim of manhandling by an angler. That was great as earlier we'd found a Mermaid's Purse from one. The little ones all had a stoke of its smooth skin and then felt the difference when they tried to stoke it the wrong way...Great fun was had by all. A proper dose of both Vitamin N and Vitamin Sea. 
With sandy and wet hands we couldn't get the camera out so sadly haven't got any pics of their finds to show you.
Where to next? We've got a late start tomorrow so a visit to the nature reserve is on the cards. 
In the meantime let us know who snuck out of your outback without so much as a by your leave.

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