Sunday, 29 January 2017

Wading around in the downpours

The Safari was on family duties on the South-side yesterday. The drive over was awful with horrendous heavy rain showers but by the time we got to the beach car park there were tiny patches of blue sky to be seen. 
We wandered down the track towards the receding tide which was allowing the first waders to land for their post-roost 'breakfast'. The front runners were a small flock of Dunlin (77). 
The light was really weird as the tide receded further and the wind turbines a couple of miles offshore disappeared into one of the blackest clouds we've ever seen. We reckoned we had long enough to take a few snaps of some Bar Tailed Godwits (78) that had come in and frightened off the Dunlins.
With the first spots of rain we ran with Monty back to the car and got in before the heavens opened. As we were running we saw the pigeons and gulls go up of the Coastguards building, then a Peregrine tazzed past us, another one wanting to dodge the advancing rain. 
The rainstorm lasted about half an hour and once it was over the light was still quiet weird.
By now the tide was quite well down and the birds further away. Although some of them were a lot bigger than the Dunlins we saw earlier. One of the reasons the birds were further away was this numbnut who flushed them all by walking right along the water's edge oblivious to the flushing birds in front of him. Thankfully a large runnel prevented him reaching the best feeding area where there were several Curlews, a lot of Bar Tailed Godwits and some Ringed Plovers along with Dunlin and Grey Plovers.
Others were much nearer not needing the deep wet mud near the water's edge, there were lots of Grey Plovers (79) higher up the beach and in range of the lens.
Time was up and our family duties beckoned but we did see some too distant to photograph Knot (80) now far out on the tide-line as we walked back to the car. 
One thing is for sure, handling a large, heavy and fairly expensive camera/lens combo in one hand and a 5 1/2 month old eager-beaver meeter-greeter of a puppy in the other isn't easy and disaster could strike at any second.
This morning we did our stint on the Big Garden Birdwatch. It was a bit dire really. We through some bread on the garage roof to attract any passing gulls. Unfortunately a Herring Gull was already passing and his calls attracted another four, they'd made off with all the bread within a second of us starting the hour's countdown. 
A pair of courting Woodpigeons on the pergola were joined by an interloping third. The local pair of Magpies dropped in to snaffle up some sunny seeds we'd scattered on the ground. Also paired up were the two Great Tits that visited once, taking just one sunny seed each. A Robin and a Dunnock completed our meagre list although during a trip to the recycling bin in the yard Goldfinches were heard they didn't show themselves in the garden until far too late in the afternoon.
Taken through dirty double glazed kitchen window at high ISO
Before the Goldfinches we'd been out again with the risky camera/puppy combo. This time we went closer to Base Camp and hit Chat Alley. We knew the tide would be up and hoped to find some Purple Sandpipers in the roost. As we approached we saw a couple of birders with a scope set up about a third of the way along the old boating pool. This wasn't good news a it meant the roost was on the back wall and not close to the footpath where it often is. Better news was they'd found a Purple Sandpiper (81) but it was the only one present today, sometimes there are two or three. In the 20 minutes or so we chatted and watched it didn't move a muscle.
Of course it's the arrowed one, it's the odd one out and we did say there was only one of them today.
The Goldfinches brought our total for the Photo Challenge to 57 although the front runners are now nipping past the ton. Good on them!
Where to next? We have some plans afoot for the day ahead and the week ahead.
In the meantime let us know who's hiding at the back in your outback.

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