Monday, August 9, 2010

Déjà Vu

I snuck out for an hour or two this morning to Pilling when the girls went shopping to Poulton on the bus. Kids nowadays just travel in cars and Olivia was so excited at the prospect of going shopping with her Nana it was a joy to watch Olivia's face as she stood waiting in anticipation for the number 2C to appear.

As I jumped out of the car almost simultaneously looking out to the marsh I got the unmistakeable thought that I had been here before when I saw a Marsh Harrier fly from the Cockerham direction, then left and west towards Pilling Water, just as it or a different one did on Saturday. Not content with that identical entrance, this one also went a long way into the distance, off towards Cockersands. If it's the same bird as Saturday’s I guess it heads west and then circuits the marsh out near the tide line but stays around the general area; if it was a different bird then it sure was a coincidental encounter. But local patches can be like that with birding days much like another.

When I arrived at Pilling Water the fine but wetting heavy drizzle had already started. Nothing new there then, so I sat under the big elderberry tree that gives a little bit of shelter plus a view over the marsh and outlet but also in both directions along the sea wall.

As I looked left towards the gate a few alarm calling Swallows alerted me to a Stoat that ran along the rocks towards me, and as Stoats do it stopped and peered at me before it went on its way. I frequently see Stoats here, I’ve even seen one swim the width of Broadfleet as the tide came in, but it’s not always they let anyone get too close. They make a living from the local bunnies and ducks around the pool but I think the lack of successful Meadow Pipit and Skylark nests in the immediate area has more than a little to do with the cute but deadly Stoat. Near the gate I watched 2 Wheatears and a Meadow Pipit dispute the best lookout post as they switched between the gate itself, the barbed fence and the metal rails of the sluice gate.



Meadow Pipit

I settled down as best I could on the uncomfortable, damp rocks looking for the harrier which I didn’t see. Instead I saw 2 Peregrine, a brownish juvenile and a more striking adult, both sat on the distant marsh before each went their separate ways after a few minutes sitting in the pouring rain. A Kestrel flew past close by and veered off quickly, it initially hadn’t seen me under the tree. Along the outflow I could see 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Pied Wagtails, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Little Egret and then further out a Greenshank triple called, but by now the visibility was so bad I didn’t see it. With the rising tide there were lots of Curlew and Redshank flying back and forth, but in the conditions impossible to count precisely.

Grey Heron

I heard the Hi-fly quad bike in the pools, duck feeding time which had the effect of disturbing over 50 Teal from the pools as the flock flew off swift and sure to the distant tideline where they joined about 40 Shelduck. What a superb flier is the Teal, no wonder they are the sportsman’s prize.


The rain closed in and began to drip through the elderberry as across the bay Heysham melted into the mizzle. Yet again I felt distinctly wet and this was for real so I called it a day. But as ever it had been a rewarding hour or two.

It’s That Rain Again


Brian Rafferty said...

Phil. A very interesting couple of hours I would say despite the rain. Your shot of the stoat is fabulous. I haven't got lucky yet with them but one day maybe. Keep up the good work.

Bobbster said...

Good capture of the Stoat, certainly posing for you.

Unravel said...

Wow Love the first photo of the Stoat!
And surprised that they can swim as well.

Andy Wilson said...

The photo of the Stoat caught my eye. I like animals expressions of curiosity.

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