Saturday, 6 December 2014

Patch Invasion - Day 4

The Shore Lark is still around so I envisaged another patch invasion this morning and I was right. I headed to the Point at first light to do some seawatching on the incoming tide and joined Ian in front of the Observation Tower. It was bitterly cold in the 10 mph southeasterly wind, but it was anice and sheltered in front of the tower, and the cloud cover was 6 oktas.

As the morning progressed birders were coming and going to twitch the Shore Lark and in the first couple of hours at least 40 birders or bird photographers had walked past. I mention bird photographers seperately to birders as these are the guys that arrive carrying huge lenses attached to their cameras and don't carry any bins! There were quite a few of them this morning and some in full camouflage and that includes their cameras as well!

I had no intention of going to look for the Shore Lark myself this morning but after a while it came to us as it was a bit more flighty it would seem this morning and eventually it was there in front of us on the beach. Watching the twitchers was nearly as entertaining as the birding, but not quite.

It was quite good on the sea and the highlights were Great Northern Diver, Gannet and Peregrine. Two 'Red-throats' were picked up flying high out of the Bay by Ian and then he noticed another larger diver a little way in front and it was the Great Northern. The birds were flying very high and I imagine they were heading further out in to the Irish Sea to feeding grounds.

The Gannet was a good record for December and during the winter you only tend to get Gannets after a period of strong winds. However, there were good numbers of Gulls out at sea constantly diving to the surface, and obviously feeding on something, and perhaps this is why the Gannet was there as well.

The Peregrine put on a great display out at sea with its interactions with a Carrion Crow. We weren't sure whether the Crow was mobbing the Peregrine and the Peregrine was having a go back, or whether the Peregrine fancied its chances of a Corvid breakfast. But whatever the reason the aerial dog fight that ensued was great to watch.

The supporting cast included 13 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Red-throated Divers, 23 Eiders, 42 Cormorants, 72 Common Scoters, four Great Crested Grebes and four Wigeon.

There was a few waders on the beach including 356 Oystercatchers, thirteen Sanderlings, two Redshanks, three Curlews, 15 Ringed Plovers and 24 Turnstones.


At the site where we have been ringing and fitting Turnstones with leg flags was a single Purple Sandpiper with about 150 Turnstones. I tried getting a few shots of the 'Purp', but it spent most of the time asleep!

 Purple Sandpiper - above & below

The forecast is pretty awful for tomorrow, but I'm due to feed my ravenous Tree Sparrows so I'll be heading to the feeding station in the morning and hopefully it won't be raining too much so I can at least get some birding done.

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