Saturday 17 December 2022

Worst of freezing weather goes, but not without a fight!

Overnight temperatures were just about above freezing, heavy rain followed by hail immediately froze on the cold ground. The temperature eventually crept up to 3C, more rain showers in the afternoon but the ground remained frozen. The SSE wind freshened throughout the day.

South shore 09:30 (MD)
I ended yesterday's report by advising care with today's expected ice. I did heed my own advice, I set off late and chose a path over rough ground, but it wasn't enough, there was a layer of ice even covering rough ground. The advice should have been, stay at home! The only thing that saved me from falling several times was that the last shower was of hail, which left a rough, but still very slippy, surface to the ice.
I just managed to check the saltmarsh, then drove, gingerly home.
Greenfinch 6
Reed Bunting 1 - you can't see all the birds every visit but these have declined from a high count of 5.
Shelduck 293
Ringed Plover 2
Teal 2

The short stretch of the creek just out from the slipway was still supporting some feeding waders. There was more groundwater running through today, but still, this small patch has been hammered this last week. Waders feeding here today:
Black-Tailed Godwit 1
Curlew 2
Oystercatcher 1 - looked like yesterday's bird
Redshank 8
Dunlin 2

I slipped my way as far as Red Nab, but there was no chance of going any further. This is a shot of Red Nab, this isn't frost, it is a layer of ice over all but the steepest rock face.

Heysham skear - low water 11:50 (MD)
I left it till after lunch, these neap tides come in very slowly. By this time the roads were fine and the shore was ok after the first 50m. Although there was little to see. There was nothing visible on the sea, and only the regular waders. Fortunately there were....
Pale-bellied Brent geese 6 - they came from somewhere up the shore, I didn't see anyone who may have spooked them, it was probably the Oystercatcher who were particularly flighty today. This is them landing again.

A little later they started making their way up the shore again. There is more weed in some areas higher up the shore, but you can see them picking up isolated pieces of sea lettuce on the way. 

I was only out for 30 minutes, but by now the ice on the pavements had largely gone, so I decided to finish this morning's walk.
South wall
It was technically much warmer than of late, but with the freshening SSE wind it felt colder. There were 40 Cormorants roosting, but not on the draughty wooden jetty. They prefer the shore when they have the option. This peninsula is just south of No.2 outflow.

Only one bird was on the wooden jetty - it seems that they forgot to tell the Shag

Wigeon 220 - originally in channel next to No.1 outflow, but they moved to Red Nab as soon as the tide started thawing the outer rocks.
Red-breasted Merganser 1 female in the harbour mouth

Kingfisher 1 - it was perched on the edge of No.1 outflow, but it wasn't looking into the outflow, but the rising water on the outside.

By this time the rain had started. It was quite heavy by the time I'd got back to the Nature Park. The ground was still frozen so most was draining towards the road. There is a chance of a slight frost again tonight so caution should be taken again in the morning. But the worst is over.........for now.