Monday, 21 November 2016

Smiles in the desert

The Safari has been off the radar a bit recently as we've been pre-occupied with a family crisis. Yesterday we received the sad news we've been expecting but not wanting to hear.
With the day and our head in turmoil we stayed off work today. 
Not far along the coast from Patch 2 there'd been a Desert Wheatear working the strandline over the weekend. We needed some time out to ourself so what better than to grab the bins and camera and nip down there shortly after first light in the hope that it was still there after a clear start to the night last night. Dawn today broke dull and gloomy with a seriously nippy wind down on the beach.
Off we went climbing the tracks over the dunes to get down onto the beach, From the summit of the dunes we saw a birder walking up the beach stopping occasionally to scan the fore-dunes. Once a bit nearer we saw it was top South-side birder GC. A quick chat revealed he'd not seen hardly a bird at all so far but was unsure exactly where to look. As it happened we did know where it had been and he'd walked a hundred yards too far. We walked back chatting and scanning, two pairs of eyes are better than one after all! his eyes were better than ours - he spotted Young Un AB waving away in the distance. And he was waving for good cause, he'd found the bird near enough where he'd seen it last yesterday.
We walked up as fast as decency would permit and in no time at all were watching a distant speck working its way along the strandline. Desert Wheatear (184) in the bag with plenty of time to spare.
With no need to tick and run we had time to play the waiting game and hope it came closer. Which it did before too long.
The best way to view it was to watch it from the beach then walk, well out on the beach to get in front of it then cut in to the line of posts which prevent the mechanical beach cleaners ripping up the fore-dunes. From there the bird would come right past us.
It can't half hop quick too, if it didn't stop to pick up morsels we wouldn't have been able to keep up with it.
At  the 'end' of the beach there are huge mounds of sand from the industrial extraction that goes on there. With the bird getting closer we decided to use one of the outlying heaps as a makeshift hide. Well worth it. Our little feathered friend almost landed on our foot and was, for a minute or two, too close to photograph, it was so close we could 'see the whites of its eyes' - a splendid, uplifting experience and just what we needed after the recent harrowing days.
Almost looks as though it could have been taken on a dune in North Africa
Shame it was so dull that the pics are taken at ISO ludicrous and are a bit grainy but hey-ho it's a great bird to have locally.
Where to next? More family stuff tomorrow so probably not a lot of chance to see much wildlife.
In the meantime let us know who's taken a wrong turn in your outback. 

1 comment:

Phil Barnett said...

Great D W photos! I thought about going to see it but it was just far enough off to qualify as a twitch....and I'm not a big fan of didn't