Sunday, 10 November 2013

Park to Coast

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae

9th Nov.  Sam and I began our day at the Rising Sun Country Park, remembering what an excellent day with some exciting species we had experienced there in January.  Today was not to be anything like that but quiet days can still be great days and often throw up something unexpected, and in any event concentrates the mind on what is there.  There were very few signs of bird life around the area apart from on the pond, and there it was mainly gulls and Cormorants, Mallards and Tufted Duck, with a couple of Teal making a brief appearance before disappearing behind the reeds.

We did walk quite a bit of the area and as we were commenting on how quiet it was Sam got his eye on a Fox.  I simply caught the movement of the tall grass and bramble as the Fox disappeared out of sight.  Almost at the same time a male Bullfinch perched before us, a small number of Long-tailed Tits flew into the hedge nearby and a flock of Goldfinches flew over the field.  That was about as exciting as it was going to get at the stage of the day although thankfully the sun came out and warmed us up.  We sensed that the Fox was still close by and sure enough we heard it moving through the bramble on a couple of occasions almost as if it was staying near to us knowing full well that it was well hidden from view.

Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard but there was little else to report.  The soup I had for lunch was very nice though.  We later headed for St Mary’s Island and began our walk from Brier Dene.  I was hoping that the Snow Buntings might have returned but no such luck and all we found near the foot of the cliff was a Pied Wagtail.  However we did have our birds of the day at this point with Sam’s eagle like eyes getting on a Woodcock coming in off the sea and me finding the Scaup in North Bay.  Two very nice sightings.  We watched the waders for a while as we chatted to DJ.  Other waders seen today were Ringed Plover,Oystercatcher,  Golden Plover. Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Curlew.

We found little on the wetland although another Fox was seen disappearing into the bushes, but were later told by someone who had been working on the sight that he had come across two Jack Snipe and a single Woodcock.  We did find a single Goldeneye in North Bay, diving with two Eider Ducks.  Both Skylark and Meadow Pipit were seen.

During a chat with Simon we watched as a photographer became trapped near St Mary’s Island as the tide came in.  OK, I know you shouldn’t laugh at others misfortunes but I have to say it was quite funny even though potentially serious.  The guys face was a picture when he realised that the seawater had cut off his retreat and it was obvious what he was thinking as he walked back and forward on the rock i.e. ‘what do I do now, people are watching me’.  He finally picked up the tripod and camera and waded through the water, almost slipping on the rock under his feet.  The seawater came over the top of his wellington boots so I guess as he walked of with water lapping over his boots his feet may have been a bit damp and cold!  People so underestimate just how dangerous this area can be when the tide is coming in.  I sometimes wonder if they ever check tide times.

As darkness came in and temperatures plummeted, we headed off for our tea before making for home.  As I said quiet days are just as interesting and enjoyable as any other day.  Oh yes, and I'm glad to inform you that Sam survived a mauling from a juvenile Mute Swan early in the day.  The swan was clearly used to being fed and Sam's inability to provide seed from his pocket led to some definite disgruntlement from this young bird.  I think trousers pockets have survived the mauling and hands have survived some bill biting.  I thought it best to leave the temporary problem and go off and look for a Jack Snipe.  Sam has some good photos of this unruly youngster.   

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