The Safari’s early morning venture forth from the front door still has no hint of daylight in the eastern sky. A Blackbird was first bird heard today with the usual Robins here and there. At Magpie Wood the light (or lack of it) was again poor and we could only see 38 and some uncounted Woodpigeons. As we tried to count the Magpies we heard the Peregrine calling but again it was out of sight ‘round the back’ of the tower.
The only Song Thrush heard this morning was the one at the entrance to the park.
The morning Patch 2 safari was a gloomy mizzly affair, in fact it was so gloomy that we didn’t get out until about a couple of hours after our normal pre-cuppa boot-up-the-puter time. We couldn’t see far through the gloom and only found a few Common Scoters and nine Great Crested Grebes. There was little on the beach either just a few gulls and Oystercatchers with a handful of Redshanks and two Turnstones.
The mist hadn’t lifted by lunchtime and there was only about the same to report from the beach and sea.
By way of something different to regale you with a Great Black Backed Gull and a Carrion Crow were taking it in turns to rip strips of flesh of the remains of a large fish. Looked as though it was either an ex Cod or Salmon. Nothing for it but to grab the wellies and camera and get onto the beach to investigate!
And on the beach there was plenty more to investigate once the fish had been identified as a probably a Salmon by the look of those teeth on the tongue.
Confirmation may well come from our marine biologist friend and/or her fisherman hubby tomorrow.
A bundle of seaweed was wrapped around what looked (and felt) like engineering swarf but also had a Mermaids Purse – the egg case of the Small Spotted Cat Shark – attached. The opening on the left-hand side bears witness to the successful hatching of the baby fish.
Nearby a Carrion Crow investigated likely looking items as it patrolled the sands.
Further along the beach was another runnel with a few Redshanks and gulls probing about but surrounded by resting Oystercatchers – a fine photo opportunity we thought. As we approached they kept flushing a little further down the beach always just out of range. However we did notice some smaller waders on the far edge of the runnel and in the bad light at first assumed them to be Sanderlings but as we got closer it became evident they were six Dunlin (111) and were so engrossed in feeding that they allowed a quite close approach. Despite our proximity to them and small items were being swallowed at a rate of knots we couldn’t make out what it was they were feeding on....perhaps we should have taken the bins as well as the camera.
On the walk back to the office another Patch 2 tick (#39) was added to the tally when we heard a Curlew calling from out of the grey.
So not a very promising day turned out to be far more interesting than we first imagined...proving if you look long or hard enough you’ll always find something worth looking at.
A quick Big Garden Bird Watch update now :- our hour’s watch was easily eclipsed by former RSPB Conservation Director Mark Avery who had more Goldfinches than we had birds in total. His ‘unusual’ visitor was a female Brambling while ours was the Coal Tit. (Bet he didn’t have real exotica like Herring Gulls either!). All this pales into insignificance when compared to our friend’s youngest daughter’s watch. She’s only eight and sat there diligently watching their tiny back yard in the depths of inner-‘city’ Blackpool for just one single solitary bird...but what was it?...dunno yet her dad had forgotten to fetch her completed sheet in to work.
Finally a reminder that Thursday (we have to present a talk on the coastal wildlife tomorrow night so might not be here) is World WetlandsDay and we hope to be organising a survey of a small wetland not far away with the aim of recording the presence of Water Voles there – can’t see them disappearing over the winter and it would be nice to actually see one rather than relying on latrines and nibbled vegetation to prove their presence...you never know...just how long is it since we last heard that diagnostic ‘ploppp’ – 25 – 30 years; more???!!! Talking of coastal wildlife if anyone reading this rubbish is booked on the Shoresearch event with LB this weekend we’ll see you there.
Where to next? More of the chilly gloomy same probably.
In the meantime let us know who's got teeth on their tongue in your outback.