The Safari nearly had our eyeballs blown out of their sockets on Thursday lunchtime as the much vaunted Storm Doris blew through with a vengeance. There was no chance of keeping the scope still to see if there was anything out on the sea. It was well past high tide but the fierce wind had kept the ebbing tide tight against the sea wall. It was a good job it was a very low high tide, had it been a 10m+ one then things along the prom would have got just a tad wet!
A quick look on Friday gave us reduced numbers of Common Scoters and a nice male Eider (106, P2 #24) heading north in the middle distance, far too far for a pic.
Saturday was a family day and the only thing of note we saw was a flock of Canada Geese (Garden #17) over Base Camp and a few Buzzards on posts along the motorway.
At last Sunday came round and late morning we were able to head out with Monty. Once again we headed over the river to 'mop-up' everything we missed last week, once again it was grey and miserable but at least the threatened rain held off. Our first port of call was the ferry terminal and its adjacent posh new apartment block and at last after about a five minute wait we caught a distant glimpse of our quarry, the long-staying Black Redstart (107, YBC #82) poking around on its favourite piles of rubble below the concrete sea defence of the posh flats' garden.
With that success under our belt we set off further north to a site for whatever reason we've managed never to have visited before. We followed local birder MF down the lane and parked up. We walked together along the embankment until Monty managed to slip his collar trying to grab a dollop of sheep sh*t. MF walked ahead and got the essential gen from returning birders. Luckily he had a scope with him as the two Shore Larks were half way across the marsh and took him quite a while to find; there's no way we could see them with just our bins. He was kind enough to let us have a look at the three yellow dots on show, two Shore Larks (108) and a Grey Wagtail (109), they were so far away we could only just make out the difference between the two species!
From there we traveled a short way to the little estuary where it took no time at all to find the Spotted Redshank (110, YBC #83) we couldn't find last time. It was roosting on the bend with a dozen or so Redshanks.
We knew the tide was dropping and the mud would be exposed shortly and the bird would drop down to start feeding on the mud.
Next up was a journey back don the main road to the farmland feeding stations, the first was full of Collared Doves and little else, the second was busy. Lots of Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches and a couple of Corn Buntings.Yellowhammer of the day and a Brambling (111, YBC #84).
There were a few Yellowhammers but quite wary today and didn't spend much time down on the seed.
The Brambling(s - there were two there but we only saw the male) were even more wary not coming down until a couple of Woodpigeons and Stock Doves (YBC #85) proved the coast was clear.
The next field held a massive flock of crows most of which had to have been Rooks. By now it was trying to drizzle and very gloomy so we had to step up the ISO on the camera to 'Stupid+. We parked the car by the old pumping station where we hope we'll hear Quails calling later in the year. The Rooks (YBC #86) were a little way across the field and no doubt we'll get better shots of them in due course but for this challenge any old pic will do to get another species on your scoresheet, they can be improved upon later if necessary.
We had a rendezvous with GB again but made the fatal error of not stopping at the 'reserve' we stopped at last week - there was a Glaucous Gull on the sands across the river. Never mind! We met up with GB and had a walk along the prom where we soon saw a small flock of Skylarks really close but with the threatening dark sky we'd not brought the camera out with us. At the furthet point of our walk there were some Linnets but we didn't bother to get camera-close, they'll have to wait until next week when fingers crossed there might be a hint of sunshine.
The rest of the afternoon was spend chewing the fat over a coffee with GB and JH watching Monty and his new friend Alby battling it out for possession of the bean-bag.
Not a bad day out on safari despite the gloomy conditions. But where were all the geese - we didn't see a single one all day!
Where to next? We might get a look or two at the sea this coming week.
In the meantime let us know who's all dull and blurry in your outback.