Saturday 31 December 2022

Brents end the year on a high

Overcast all day, it is a mute point as to when the low cloud/mist turned to fine drizzle. Almost calm in the morning a light east breeze by the afternoon.

South shore (MD)
It wasn't the conditions, both tides and weather, to expect much here this morning, but it was a pleasant walk along the sea wall.
Nothing of note behind the lunchtime ferry.
Shag 1 immature had been feeding on the waterfall before flying out of the harbour - thanks to birder who saw this before I arrived - sorry, I forgot to ask your name!
Red-breasted Merganser 1 female in harbour mouth
Rock Pipit 2 - this is the Red Nab bird taking a bath in the groundwater runoff stream (this clip actually from yesterday but it was present again today)

Kingfisher 1 on Red Nab
A nice splash of colour on a grey day
Pink-Footed goose 130 heading north, high, noon (actually not overly high, but it sounds good!)
Wigeon c150
Shelduck 8

Middleton Nature Reserve 
I've not mentioned here for a while, but I have been making a brief daily check of the main ponds. There has been no new wildfowl to report, just varying numbers of Gadwall, Mallard and Teal plus two Tufted duck. It was nice to see the Goldeneye last week, but we haven't had a Pochard so far this winter.

North shore 
I just went down to check out any brent amongst the rocks out from the play area.
Bar-Tailed Godwit 2
Pale-bellied Brent goose 44. There were lots of people walking their dogs close to the sea wall, but fortunately, this year, there is plenty of gutweed and sea lettuce amongst the furthest rocks. On these neap tides the brent can access this area pretty much all day, with little risk of disturbance. In this clip all 44 can be seen, you can also see the gutweed on the rocks, and hear the dogs barking behind me!

In the above clip the tide is just reaching the outer rocks, this helps the brent to graze the gutweed on the rocks and shore (the gutweed floats in water). But, for the time being at least, they do not need the tide here to feed happily. The pools between the rocks are full of gutweed and sea lettuce. This shot is one of the pools where they are feeding, I took it earlier in the week when there was nothing feeding here.
It doesn't look much to us, but to a Brent goose, this is better than a Christmas dinner!
There is certainly more weed on the outer rocks than in recent years, so a good chance of the brent numbers swelling further.

Well, here we are again, another year over! First, on behalf of the observatory team, I'd like to thank everyone who has provided records, pictures etc this year. All observations are always very welcome, see the contact details on the side bar.

I normally end with "Happy New Year", but somehow, this year, it doesn't seem enough. This is the third year in a row, when I have sat here thinking (hoping), surely next year has to be better than this one! And hopefully next year will be. As individuals we all have good and bad years, and I sincerely hope that you all have as good a one as possible. 
But what I really that everyone enjoys a better 2023