Sunday, December 28, 2008

Macabre birding

Saltwick Beach

Being a somewhat macabre crew, the family wanted to see the dead dolphin and I wanted to confirm the ID so at a relatively early hour we were all back down at Saltwick Nab. The Curlew were feeding in the field this time and 55 were counted. I then checked out the Black-headed Gulls and bingo! Adult Mediterrranean Gull amongst them - a quick Quicksilver score. Then down to the dolphin (pix to follow). The dolphin is a White-beaked. Once I found my reference book I discovered that it is not out of its normal range at all.

White-beaked Dolphin again

Ellen decided that the dark red sea anenomes were deadly to small girls and spent much of the time counting them and screaming. Mollie apologised to the dolphin via sand writing and I stared hopefully out to sea. A suspicious diver went south, dark, slow flapping, biggish feet and unfortunately too distant but Black-throated was strongly suspected, a few minutes later I got onto another suspicious looking diver (perhaps the same) coming south, close and onto it too late I again failed the ID test. However, Red-throated Divers then showed themselves en masse with several flying into the bay and a three and then a seven going north high and fast. An Eider went north and then more frustration as an auk sp at distance evaded specific ID. No Purple Sands or Ringed Plovers revealed themselves and Dunlin was conspicuous by its absence. A Pied Wagtail flew down the beach. A very, very distant adult Gannet finally gave itself up. Fulmars were in abundance but no other petrel types honoured us with their presence.

We headed for the Nab itself with Ellen determined that various red and brown algal forms were also life threatening. Resorting to bribery ("We will stop at the Spar and I have money.) we eventually managed to ascend the National Trust path but oh despair! No Stonechat and amazingly no Rock Pipit. However, rewards are there for those who persevere and at the top of the path a familiar call alerted me to a point scorer. A glimpse of a flitting small bird, a leap over the fence and Chiffchaff revealed itself, rather an excellent bird for Whitby at this time of year.

The promised Spar provided no goodies in the car park but the detour to Ruswarp to sort out birthday party arrangements produced Grey Heron and Muscovy Duck ( I can't have that can I Andrew?).
Black-headed Gull Tree

During our travels Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk gave themselves up.

Gardening afternoon finally produced Greenfinch, just one on the feeders and Yellowhammer calling from one of the Sycamores.

A little local knowledge at the end of the day provided good views of Tawny Owl.

I think this now makes 64, but most importantly some quality birds.

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