Friday 18 February 2022

The eye and the teeth of the storm

Reasonably strong overnight winds, but at 07:00 the wind ferocity increased dramatically. It died down again for a short while before gale force winds returned. Some very heavy squalls, including hail.

First, a reminder of brighter times. These two nice shots were taken by Kevin Singleton yesterday in the horse paddock.
A handsome Wood Pigeon 

The German ringed Black-Headed gull
Ringed in 2013 and over wintered in Heysham every winter since 2018

South shore (MD)
I set off at 09:45, braced for a gale. Instead, there was a gentle SSE wind and no rain. The centre of the cyclone driving the storm must have passed over, close to Heysham. 
Pale-bellied Brent goose c30 - these arrived at Red Nab at 10:00. This clip isn't really to show the Brent, but to demonstrate just how "calm" it was at this time, note the sea condition, but more strikingly, the sound, no wind, just the waves lapping against the sea wall.

Wigeon c150
Common Gull 1 second winter bird feeding on No.2 outflow. I actually took this clip yesterday, I was expecting to be short of material today. But this Common Gull, or another was there today too. The clip begins with Blackpool Tower in the background.

Rock Pipits 5 minimum -  I'm not sure what's going on on the harbour wall between the lighthouse and the waterfall. There were at least four birds involved today, three were definitely not the ringed lighthouse male. I didn't get a good enough look at the fourth bird. Not only was the bird in this clip not ringed, I'm pretty sure it only has one leg. I've never seen Rock Pipits hop like this.

The above bird was near the lighthouse, so I presume it's a female, or just possibly the male, having lost or injured its right leg. Although I can't think of how that could happen so quickly (I saw it last week)

There were two Rock Pipits "vying" along the harbour wall, at just about the mid point between the two territories. I was hoping one of these was the ringed bird, but neither are ringed. I suspect it more an "unwelcome" advance rather than a territorial dispute.
By this time the rain had started and the wind shifted to SW and was increasing quickly. Within a few minutes of the above clip I was being driven along the wall in a heavy and prolonged hail storm. I'll try and have another look tomorrow.

After lunch, Jean and Pete checked several venues, but nothing to be seen. Jean took this clip of the old heliport wall, this is two hours after high water and the waves were still washing over the wall.

This area has not proven productive so far on this set of spring tides, Howard checked it out yesterday, but this Sparrowhawk had just cleared all the birds!
Sparrowhawk at the far end of the heliport wall yesterday, 
 but Howard still managed this decent record shot