15th Mar. Our walk from St Mary’s Island to Holywell today was interrupted as Sam and I spent time watching and photographing the Fulmars. How long we spent here I do not know, as time seemed to become suspended as we entered the world of these wonderful seabirds which seemed to take as much interest in our presence as we did theirs. The fact that the coastal path was well trodden by folk yesterday was forgotten as we were cut off from humankind and their dogs and focussed entirely on the Fulmars and their environment. We agreed later, as barely a word passed between us at the time that this is what bird watching is all about. We watched intently as perhaps a half a dozen birds periodically flew away from the cliff side before returning and flying at speed along the cliff side. A single bird landed and was then joined by another and we watched as they communicated and edged along the piece of cliff which jutted out towards the sea and the drop to the rocks below. Any problems were totally forgotten as my mind focussed on the subject in hand. The camera didn’t focus quite so quickly on too many occasions and the only frustrations I felt during this period were with regard the equipment I use. I must get this sorted out and spend some money, even if it does bring on a temperature!
Too soon we were back into the human and canine world.
We’d begun our walk at St Mary’s Island and on approach had watched a Kestrel in flight west of the wetland. I asked myself ‘Do the Council actually have the money to carry out the grand ideas they propose for a visitor centre (or is it a café?) at the car park?’ Perhaps if they do they will consider the wildlife when carrying this out. I’ve watched all sorts of goings on down there over the years including boy racers with too much money and too little sense, dog walkers who think it a good idea to watch their pets run through the flocks of waders in winter and a particular lady who thought it a good idea to throw stones at the waders as we tried to photograph them. I guess we ought to be grateful she didn’t throw them at us! Maybe a visitor centre/café won’t be any worse.
The fields held Skylark and Meadow Pipit and North Bay held numerous Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipits. Waders seen were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and eventually small flocks of Golden Plover. Short sea watches brought little, but we did eventually find Fulmars of course, Red-throated Diver (my first of the year), Gannet, Cormorant, gulls including Kittiwake, Guillemot, a pair of Mallard, a Pair of Common Scoter and Eider Ducks.
I’d eaten and had Sunday dinner to look forward to, so I tried to blank out the smell of chips as we passed through Seaton Sluice. Not very successfully I fear as by the end of the walk I really did fancy a plate of fish and chips.
Once into the dene we stood and took in the action and sounds at the first rookery we came too before moving on and finding a pair of Bullfinches, Wren and Long-tailed Tits at the dipping pond. The male Bullfinch was looking resplendent and its redness brought to mind the colour of Carmine Bee-eaters. Further into the dene we watched woodland birds including Nuthatch. I was feeling the heat by now. It became really very warm in the dene although once out onto the open fields the cool breeze soon had me fastening up the coat again. The area was very quiet.
The pond too was quiet, but did provide the sound of Little Grebe and Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Coot. There was some interesting behaviour from the Mute Swans. What we think were last years young were flying in the area and each time they appeared to come into land on the pond they were chased off by the adult cob seemingly wanting them out of the adult pairs territory. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in flight. On the edge of the pond a single feeding Curlew saw off a small flock of four of five Curlews which flew in as we watched. The flock left and the lone bird then continued to feed. The haunting call of Curlew could be heard as we prepared to leave. Temperatures were dropping. It had been a day for Fulmarus glacialis.