Monday, 7 November 2016

South Landing: lifers and showers

Lately I can't seem to go away from the Flamborough Headland, I just love the area so much. Today the weather forecast wasn't brilliant, with strong wintry showers all morning, but, instead of heading to a reserve with hides, which would be my usual decision, I decided to brave it and I am so glad I did. The morning started bright and mild. The tide was right up, with nice breaking waves. A couple of guys were even surfing!
 I sat by the beach and watched the entertaining Rock Pipits (in a scan I counted 11) and a flock of Turnstones working on the pile of seaweed. A few Sanderlings were roosting and two Purple Sandpipers were with the Turnstones.
 With the occasional clouds the visibility towards the sea was great and I spotted a group of small birds swimming in the bay. I couldn't believe my eyes that they were Little Auks, a lifer for me! I moved up the bay looking for a better light and they were actually getting closer to the shore, forming a compact group, but one of them started to lag behind and almost beached at some point. One of its wings was droopy, but it paddled out at sea again and stayed on the bay close to shore.
 Just then three birds landed and as I pointed and took some photos I realised they were Long-tailed ducks, an adult female and two juveniles. What luck, this was my second lifer of the day. Unfortunately they flew off almost immediately.
 I watched the lone Little Auk for a while, but it started spitting. Ominous clouds were coming fast from the north, and I headed back to the car while the shower passed. A birder (Mark Thomas) came to say that they had captured the injured Little Auk as it came to shore and will take it to the Sealife rescue centre at Scarborough.
 As the rain eased a bit I popped for a coffee at the visitor centre. After a little while the rain stopped and I ventured out, doing the woodland walk and stopping at the clifftop. There were lovely sunny spells. The sandy strip of beach was now exposed, the beach empty of people, but a Great Black-backed gull, a Curlew, a few Oystercatchers and a flock of Ringed Plovers were now in attendance.
 I descended the steep steps and walked up the beach. There were some Scoters, including a male. Some Shags fishing and a Grey Heron by the tide line.
A family of six Brown Rats fed under the feeders by the visitor centre.
High tide and a surfer.
The five Little Auks
The injured Little Auk.
Long-tailed Duck female and two juveniles.
Ominous clouds coming.
Carrion Crow enjoying the sunny spell.
The exposed beach during a sunny spell.
The abandoned Sand Martin colony.
Common Scoters.
Grey Heron.
Rock pools with South Landing in the distance.
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