Tuesday 14 March 2023

Tide and time.......

Quite mild, a light NW wind with some heavy, snow, sleet and rain showers with some sunny spells in between.

I was planning to, check the skear at low water at  09:45 today. By 09:30 the snow was of blizzard proportions. But the tide doesn't wait, so I donned my waterproofs and set off (MD)
Heysham skear - low water 09:45
To my delight the sun shone and the wind was almost absent for the duration of my walk. It rained during my drive home.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 38 - they weren't obvious to begin with as they were scattered around the skear, mainly in twos and threes. There is a modest amount of gutweed on most large rocks now. Nothing lush like the play area rocks or Red Nab, but plenty to go around, and only one person around to disturb them, and I made sure that I didn't. This is a typical relaxed feeding party.
As the tide rose, 8 flew off to the north.
This one has a damaged wing, it will do well to fly back across the Atlantic.
Good luck.....
The remaining birds collected in the NE skear corner. Most are in this clip.
They then flew to the south, 28 landed on the sea to the south of the skear, 2 continued south past the harbour. Some stayed on the sea

While others just had a paddle - they really are a handsome Goose

Eider 20 +
Red-breasted Merganser 1 female
Apart from the Oystercatcher, not many waders. Curlew 15, Turnstone 30+, Redshank 30+, Knot just 15

Sometimes when I walk along the shore I see something so familiar, that I forget that the logic of what I'm seeing may not be apparent to everyone (MD) This is an example:

Most of the Redshank feed on small invertebrates found in the small pools, channels and crevices between the rocks and mussels. But there are inevitably a few feeding higher up the beach on the mud. These are likely to be feeding on Blow Lugworms, but not whole worms, just their tail tips. The lugworm extend their tails above the mud to shed the waste mud that they have filtered any goodness out of, leaving the familiar "casts" on the mud surface. The tail tip is vulnerable and therefore has evolved to easily detach from the rest of the worm. A new tail extension then regrows, and although the tail tip will not be as nutritious as a whole worm, it will be a decent source of protein for a smallish wader. This clip begins with the Redshank grabbing a tail, washing it (probably only half of the detachable section), eating it then looking for the next worm actively casting.

When a worm is grabbed, it immediately contracts, this makes is wider and its body is held firm by its burrow sides, and shorter so any tail tip held becomes detached. This works well when the mud is relatively firm as it is here, but not so well in the soft mud, near the water's edge. That's why the serious worm eaters (Curlew, Godwits) feed close to the water's edge. What a lot of people forget, but waders know through experience, is that the tide comes in under the mud before it reaches it on the surface. So the mud near the edge is liquified and any worms grabbed can be extracted. (this is one reason why cars get stuck in the mud. They are driven around on the flat beaches, the mud supporting them easily. But as the tide starts to come in the mud can liquify below them, long before the tide reaches on the surface.  Once the tide is above the mud, the weight of the water compacts it, and it becomes firm again. Too late for any vehicles unfortunately. they are now firmly stuck!)

Saltmarsh to Red Nab - high water 15:25 (MD)
Another fortunate sunny spell between showers
The only passerines were 2 Rock Pipit and 2 Dunnock on the saltmarsh.
Pale-Bellied Brent at least 26 on Red Nab - almost certainly some of this morning's birds.
Pinkfoot 1 grounded on Red Nab
Wigeon c100

Imperial Rd
Just a drive along on the way home.
Greylag Goose 2
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 1
Mallard 3
Teal 4
Wood Pigeon 25
Buzzard 1
The Wood Pigeon roost in these trees and feed in the field on the east side of the road. These are a few of them roosting with the Buzzard in the next tree.