Thursday, 6 January 2022

Nice Sanderling surprise

 A bitterly cold south wind early on with high cloud. Rain/sleet started about 10:15, after that there were some heavy rain showers and the wind shifted to SSW.

Heysham skear - low water 08:20 (MD)
Eider c60
Great Crested Grebe 6
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Shag 1 (at least) fishing to NW of skear
The only time the sun shone today was just after sunrise for a few minutes. It was such a difference to the gloom both before and after, that I feel obliged to use one of the clips I took in the low morning light.
This is a nice mature male Eider waddling through the old Honeycomb worm mounds. At this time of year, the winter storms strip much of the mussels from the skear. This normally leaves the bare skear bottom, but this year what remains are the old honeycomb worm beds that last year's mussels formed over. But it begs the question as to what will happen this year.

Just out of recording area:
Mediterranean gull 1 adult resting on the telegraph pole just north of its usual lamppost at Oxcliffe Rd traffic lights.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Mute 6 adult 9 juvenile 
Coot 1
Moorhen 8
Gadwall 41
Wigeon 2 (returning pair)
Shoveler 3 pair plus immature male

South shore mid-late afternoon 
As I set off, the heaviest shower of the day started. When I reached the saltmarsh, it was still largely covered, although the tide was ebbing quickly. There was something foraging in the flotsam in the NE corner of the marsh. I would have guessed Starlings, but there was something white with them. As I moved towards the corner it became obvious, even through the rain, that they were c12 Turnstone with a......
Sanderling - this first clip was from as close as I dare go without disturbing them.
But the tide was ebbing quickly and allowed me to get onto the marsh and look back at them. A Turnstone quite unceremoniously pushes the Sanderling away towards the end of this clip.

I left them to it, but as I walked away the rain stopped, so I popped back for a clearer shot.
Sanderling with Turnstone - Sanderling are a rare winter visitor here
I left them for a second time, and they were still foraging as I left the saltmarsh.

Rock Pipit 6 (2+1 on saltmarsh, 1 on Red Nab plus 2 on sea wall)
Reed Bunting 2 on saltmarsh 
Wigeon c100
Pale-bellied Brent goose 10+ - there were none on Red Nab as I walked out, but it was just becoming exposed. On the return at 16:20 there was a feeding group in the middle, but very difficult to see in the gloom but at least 10.
Shag 2 juvenile on waterfall - this clip from lighthouse shows both Shag, plus a Cormorant 

This one shows one performing their distinctive dive

Finally, a sign of the times. It was quite dark as I returned to my car, but this Kestrel near the small anemometer was still hunting. No need to waste energy hovering, or go to roost in the dark. This high luminosity lamp was illuminating the bare ground below and the Kestrel was just waiting for supper to scurry past. I wonder how late it can do this for? (MD)