Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Sea, The Sea

You'll be glad to hear that normal service has been resumed. Phew!

It's a small miracle what sleep, drinking plenty of hot water and spending a day outdoors in the (very bracing as it happens) fresh air can do for you :o)

Thank you SO MUCH for all your kind comments yesterday- what marvellous folks you truly are. I can't tell you how much you all cheered me up. I appreciate you all SO MUCH, and here is a slightly-out-of-focus bunch of flowers for you by way of thanks:


I've spent today by the sea, here.....


In bitterly cold winds and driving rain :o) We got soaked, then freeze-dried, then soaked (this time by needle-sharp darts of rain that were chucked at us by a ferociously furious wind that tried to blow us all off the sea wall and into the mudflats) then freeze-dried again.

As has been said before though (mainly by me), ecologists are a hardy bunch and we did keep going through some pretty grotty conditions...


 


And it was worth it because we saw....drum roll please...... TWO Spoonbills! Here they are....


Well, yes, OK. Could be almost anything, right? So you'll have to take my word for it because I was with ace birding chum Dave and ace lecturer Des and both had very powerful scopes with them and recognised the tell-tale swish swish from side to side head movement that Spoonbills characteristically do when searching for food, PLUS the local birders networks were alive in a Jolly Excitable Way with the news they'd been spotted here yesterday AND the warden confirmed it. VERY exciting - I've never seen one before, let alone two. They are pretty rare in the UK so that's a Giant Yippee then :o)

Here's a pic off the web so you can see just how wonderful they really are....



Farlington Marsh is a hugely important site for water birds, especially geese and waders. It's one of only a very few places that you can see hundreds of dark-bellied Brent geese at this time of year. These birds have amber conservation status due to their low distribution levels. They breed in Arctic Tundra and over-winter in GB, Ireland and the Low Countries. There is a pale form which comes from Greenland. These dark ones come from Siberia.




 

 
 

The reserve also boasts Bearded Tits thanks to all the Reeds, but alas we didn't see any today. I am still chasing them as have yet to see one :o(


 








As I was looking through the bins for the Tits (you have to be careful how you say that), I heard the unmistakeable eerie haunting call of a Curlew, and turned to see two flying over the flats. I love Curlews and it is always a pleasure to see them....

 
There was a Redshank not far from the Curlew, and although I see these quite often I never tire of admiring them...

 

Old Eagle Eyes Dave then spotted a Ginormous flock of Avocet (emblem of the RSPB), again at a distance. Here they are, all 68 of them! (they are the white blur along the back edge of the pic with a Shelduck in the foreground). You're probably working out for yourselves by now that the more interesting birds were, for the most part, miles away cross the mudflats :o)


Farlington is a strange place, slap bang next to the Motorway and not far from the City of Portsmouth, so you get this strange mix of desolate mudflat expanse filled with wild birds with the busy hum of the M27 right next to it.



Wigeon were present in large numbers...


As were Teal  (loving that bright green splodge on the wing of the male)...


And a flock of Lapwing were  being buffeted about by the wind against which they were making very little headway...


The Dunlin were having more luck. They chose not to fly about but instead spread out right across the estuary eating everything they could find :o)



We stopped and had lunch in the cover of the sea wall. You can perhaps tell from our cheerful expressions that this is not the first time we have all eaten together outside in less than clement conditions and are therefore Used To It (although I notice Rich has all but disappeared inside his coat and hood and only a tiny little piece of face is left exposed to the air) :o)


The weather decided to close in again dramatically at this point, so sandwiches were stuffed down throats hastily and hot tea gulped in hurried fashion before we all got drenched again with a side order of frostbite....


After the cloud had tipped its entire contents out on us, the weather appeared to decide it had given us enough of a hard ride and the sun came out, just as we were heading for home....of course....

 


As we headed back to the relative warmth of the minibus with bright blue lips and bright pink faces, Dave spotted this group of Black-Tailed Godwit, another bird I had never seen before and one that is also confined to a few narrow estuaries. These birds have lots of rings on their legs which is probably down to their relative scarcity and the need to monitor them. Smashing, aren't they?





I thought you might like to see how the majority of my blog posts are written. With 'help' from a certain small, determined Miss Poppy who likes Very Much to go to sleep on my lap while I am typing and won't take NO, I AM BUSY POPPY for an answer :o)...




Incidentally, that horrid Stats essay is finished and handed in, and now I have one to write on Countryside Law. Oh, Happy Days......
 


Hope everyone is well and I wish you all a peaceful evening, and thanks again for being Such Chums. If ever you need cheering up I will return the favour with interest :o)

CT xx


 

30 comments:

  1. Hello CT - I have been completely neglectful of all things blog-related (mine and others) for the last couple of weeks, as things really got on top of me after Christmas. Nothing awful just overload and a touch of January blues. Anyway, catching up now and have taken a couple of days off work to sort myself out. Flossy sleeping beside me on the sofa on/in my dressing gown which she has claimed for herself... I'm glad things are better with you than a couple of days ago, and I love all the bird information and remarkable sightings in your last post. What a great day that sounds despite the cold.
    Poppy really does remind me of Flossy. Lily xx

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    1. Hey Lily, I'm sorry you've been having a rough time recently- it sounds like the best possible medicine to take some time off and spend it with Floss :o) A day or two to yourself works wonders. Please don't worry about catching up blog-wise, I don't always make it round all the blogs I like to read every time there's a new post either. I will look forward to the next Flossy installment as our two girls are very alike, as you say, and I am very fond of Flossy too. Pop is overdue a bath as she is Stinky Malinki at present, and Ted needs a hair cut as he is Hairy Maclary. Hope you feel better xx

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  2. Sorry I didn't get around to reading about your tough day until this post appeared! I'm glad that today was better and everyone helped to cheer you up! Brr it was cold here today too you must be a very hardy bunch! Those spoonbills must have been so exciting to see! Sarah x

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    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for your kind words, yes, all back to normal now, phew!
      It was bitterly cold by the sea but worth it for all the wonderful bird we saw.
      Every time we tune into Broadchurch now I hear myself saying to M 'my blogging chum Sarah lives near there' and he smiles and says 'yes, you tell me that every time'! xx

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  3. I also did not hear abut your down day as I have been away but I am so glad the fight bloggers were there to cheer you up and you did a lot when you were out in those very cold conditions. Great to see the Spoonbills and I just love both your dogs,

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    1. Hi Margaret. Yes, feeling much better now and all the blogging messages have been lovely and cheering, yours included. Glad you liked all the birds- do you get Spoonbills turning up in Ireland at all? Amazing creatures :o)

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  4. Oh dear, sorry to hear about your troubles, I had to go back and read the post as I'm way behind with everything, the house is being upgraded and we too have had some troubling news, which is occupying our thoughts and stealing away time...what is it about this January!!
    You saw some amazing birds and Spoonbills...wow that's fantastic. I hope things continue to improve for you.

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    1. Hi Suzie. I hope the news wasn't too bad and you are both OK? I am fine now thanks, just one of those days were nothing went right and I got fed up with it!
      I was SO chuffed with the Spoonbills, albeit at a great distance! Worth keeping an eye out on near you I would think. x

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  5. Lovely photos, and it looks like you all had an amazing time despite the cold. When I went for a walk along the river last week I took some photos of some birds which I tried to identify when I got home. The closest thing I could see to them were the black tailed godwits. Could you have a look at the post and put me out of my misery please :)

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    1. Hi Chickpea, I'm sorry I missed your river walk post and yes I think they probably are Black tailed Godwits. Super day yesterday, so many lovely birds to watch :o)

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  6. A walk outdoors always makes me feel better. Awesome shot of the spoonbill!

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    1. It is the best medicine. I am not an indoor type of a person and never have been. Always happiest outside, in all weathers :o)

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  7. What a lovely day, despite the weather. And you look very cosy with your heater and your nice warm doggie at your desk. You saw some fantastic birds. There was a spoonbill at Slimbridge a while back, we were thrilled to see him. I was especially, as it was something I could recognise - sometimes the rare birds are small and brown and I can't tell what I'm supposed to be looking at! We've been looking for a bittern there recently. No luck so far though, but we won't give up easily. You've taken some really great bird pictures, and I love the one of the light over the water. All of those beautiful winter greys. Good luck with your countryside law essay. CJ xx

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    1. Now a Bittern would be a find! They are pretty elusive. Friends of mine have spent hours watching for one only to hear it appeared minutes before they arrived, hung about for a short while and wasn't seen again! The small brown or grey waders are hard to ID, I would struggle if I wasn't with Dave and the others on these trips. The RSPB birds of Britain & Ireland guide is excellent if you haven't already got it xx

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  8. Great post CT, glad that you're back on song m'dear. I used to see curlews when walking greyhounds as a lad. You're so right about the call being haunting, has to be one of my favorite birds. We also used to see plenty of hares from march onwards....dogs used to go potty when one would break cover.
    Hope you keep on improving CT

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    1. Thanks my dear, feeling all back to normal here. D'you know the story behind the drop in hare populations? An insecticide widely used a few years ago would get on their paws in the fields, it would sting so they would lick it and the ingested poison would kill them. Their numbers are slowly improving but the lack of winter cover crops means no food and no shelter in most places. We do sometimes see them here on the chalk- fantastic creatures, I love them :o)

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  9. What a fabulous selection of birds were spotted the marshes look a fabulous place to get freezing cold and wet - we have seen quite a few Spoonbills in N.Norfolk - I remember husband's excitement the first time he spotted one, now they are a little more common there. It was awfully windy and haily and sleety here today - we stood around in a churchyard at a funeral - not the best place to be on a cold wintery day - but after went to the pub for warming drinks and a delicious funeral tea.

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    1. Hi Elaine. It was a super day out despite the cold. Makes you realise how much life there is to see, even in mid winter if you go to the right places. Interested to hear about the Spoonbills in Norfolk. Such amazing looking birds. Sorry to hear you've been at a funeral, but the pub afterwards sounds like a good celebration of life.

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  10. So glad that you are feeling better today. I am sick to my stomach right now because of a stupid thing that I have done on my blog, and seeing Pops - and you! - has cheered me more than you know! Anyway, my profile pic might have changed - to one of me! - in case you wonder who it is, it is still T&P's Aunty Amy, just with a different face! xx

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    1. I had to rush over and find out what's happened- how incredibly annoying for you and upsetting too. I do hope you can get everything back. So pleased Pops (and me!) cheered you up. I decided to put a pic of me on (I do occasionally) because your post with you on it the other day made me think about the way we all relate to one another. I do love the thought-provoking nature of blogging. T and P send their love, they are both covered in mud from a walk through the woods this morning and are now sitting next to each other on the ladybird mat staring out the patio doors at the garden! xx

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  11. Brrrrrr I'm shivering reading your post!!! I love birding!

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    1. Bloody freezing it was. Enough to tests one's commitment to the cause. Incidentally, I got into huge trouble with L last night for using 'one' instead of me in a conversation we were having. I am now determined to pop it into every conversation I have with him because, as you know, there is nothing so pleasing as embarrassing your children :o) xx

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  12. Seems to me that when you are not busy, busy, busy and mucking aboot, its like a landslide coming down real quick. You have to be busy, right - we are a lot alike in that manner - lots of energy to burn off. I loved your photos and this day would have had me "over the moon", as Mum used to say. Cheers

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    1. Too right- we are very alike in that regard, need to be outdoors and busy, hate being sat still! x

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  13. Wow, well that's one way to banish the blues! I'm not envious of you being out in that weather, but what a fab selection of birds! Congrats on the lifers. :-)

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    1. I know! SO excited to see the Spoonbills, I can't tell you- I was like a kid jumping up and down :o) xx

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  14. I;ve just discovered your blog and your photos are wonderful.
    Sorry to hear you have The Blues, and hope you feel better soon.

    Take care
    irene
    xxxx

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    1. Hi Irene and welcome to Countryside Tales :o)
      It was more of a day when nothing went right really and thankfully a good night's sleep and a day outside put it all behind me x

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  15. So glad you are feeling better. What a brilliant reserve and great selection of birds especially the Spoonbills (would have been over the moon with that sighting :) )

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    1. I thought you'd be excited about the Spoons too- now I am dying to see them up close and get a proper photo :o)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x