Monday 12 December 2022

The silent sunrise

Another calm and freezing night. Plenty of sunshine during the day, but the air temperature never rose above zero. Very light east breezes.

Heysham skear - low water 07:40 (MD)
I set off at 07:30, it was minus 4C, it had been down to minus 6C overnight. The skies were clear but a big bank of mist hung over the sea.
Pink-Footed Goose one "typical" skein of 6 north, but 3 small skeins heading south (17, 20 +c10) possibly cold related movement. All movement before dawn.
The only birds seen on the sea were 13 Eider.

When the sun started to rise, it initially met a barrier of haze, it looked quite spectacular.
In the above clip you can hear the clamour of the waders. This noise is a constant background here, and I don't hear it. But I heard it when it stopped! About 15 minutes after this clip the sun had burned off the mist and it's rays were refreshingly warm. Everything went eerily silent! All the birds stopped feeding and just faced the sun to soak up the heat. They need all the energy they can muster to remain warm on nights like this. Food is required for overnight energy, but the sun's energy was very welcome for a few minutes.

Red-Breasted Merganser 2 
Bar-Tailed Godwit 2
I didn't see either till I was about to walk back up the beach, they were both near the green marker post.
They waited till the tide caused them to swim, before flying off

Howard went to check out the waders on the old heliport wall. Unfortunately, someone walked right up to the roosting birds to take a picture, and flushed them all!
This is the very last thing the birds need! They've had a freezing night followed by a very short feeding window on the exposed shore. All they can do now is to rest to conserve energy before another freezing night. I'm sure everyone who reads this post respects this, but please advise others you know who may not be aware of the significance of disturbing wildlife, particularly at this time of year (Malcolm)

South shore (MD)
Wigeon 70
Shelduck 5
Teal 2 flew from south and landed on the saltmarsh 
Common Snipe 6
Ringed Plover 1
Ringed Plover

Grey Plover 1
Grey Plover
Blackbird 1
Reed Bunting 5
Rock Pipit 1
Rock Pipit

Red Nab:
Wigeon another 140
Shelduck another 16
Rock Pipit another 1
Kingfisher 2 - there were definitely two today. One was feeding in the freshwater stream as I walked out. Then as I was getting to the end of Red Nab two flew past, at least one peeping loudly.
This was the "chased" Kingfisher, it flew along the curved wall

The second Kingfisher flew past on my left and when it was satisfied the other was far enough away, it returned to Red Nab.
One was still feeding on Red Nab on my return

Shag 1 possibly 2 - Tom Walkington had scoped one on the wooden jetty, near where the 2nd calendar year bird likes to roost. That had moved on when I arrived, but this immature was in the harbour. I just managed this shot of it with what looks like a Weaver, before it dived to orientate it out of sight of the cormorants who would try and pinch it.
It does look like a Weaver, but if it is, it is a particularly large one. I always worried about sea birds eating Weavers they have a savage sting in their dorsal fins, possibly fatal to a bird the size of a Shag.  I know birds swallow fish head first which flattens the dorsal fin, but even if not punctured I knew that the bird's digestive juices would eventually release the venom. Then I realised that's the point it is a venom not a poison. A venom needs to enter the blood stream to take effect. 
Even so this was a big one! When it surfaced again it was swallowing the didn't go down easily!

It eventually went down and seemingly without harming the Shag, as it swam around looking quite plesed with itself.