Saturday 2 March 2019

Schoolboy error

The forecast hinted at a brief weather window late morning, before things turned downhill with the anticipated arrival of Storm Freya (or 'more weather' as we like to call it). Our Lass, seemingly over her cold, was keen to revisit the seabird cliffs and I wasn't about to argue. Early morning showers had drifted through, leaving behind an overcast, but calm, sky. We bundled optics into the car and drove down to the Bay of Semolie, hoping that the promised sunshine would appear.

As we strode along the clifftop path, a variety of gulls and Fulmars glided to and fro beside us. A few Black Guillemots were visible on the water close in, as was a group of gulls further out, which seemed to be loitering around a feeding Grey Seal. The seal would surface from time to time, the gulls would go frantic, the seal would dive again, the gulls calmed down. And repeat.

Our route took us eastwards, putting up a few Rabbits and several Brown Hares. One threesome of hares definitely included a female and two males, with one of the boys keen to mate-guard her from the other chap. Flocks of Oystercatcher, Curlew and Starling foraged in the rough sward of the clifftops, biding their time until the tide receded and they could forage on the shore once more.

By the time we reached the small headland we'd reached the previous week, two things were obvious: the sun hadn't put in an appearance yet; and the battery was dead in my camera. The only up side of this was we were now guaranteed some fabulous wildlife moments, and so it proved.

I took a few shots with my phone, just to record the fact that the auks were yet to return to the cliff ledges, and then we headed up a steep slope to investigate the geo where the Jackdaws were hanging out.

Gaps were beginning to appear in the cloud and it was definitely getting lighter, unlike the dead weight of my DSLR and its big lens...

As we made it to the top of the ridge, the sun burst through and someone at the BBC Natural History Unit must have shouted "Action!"

A pair of Ravens glided over to check us out. We re-discovered the hare threesome, still trying to work out its trigonometry from various angles (and they were far nearer, far more pre-occupied with each other than with us, and the light was now just peachy. Gah!). A big flock of Twite could be seen perched on a wire fence not far away, and across the moorland, a distant fence post was augmented with a Peregrine falcon. Scanning with bins located another three hares, and a quick check of the nearer group, to ensure I wasn't double-counting, revealed it was now four strong.

We sat on the tussocky grass beside the path, listening to the joyful singing of several Skylarks, the 'cronking' of the Ravens, the Jackdaws with their 'chacks' and 'chaws', and the argumentative squabbling of the Fulmars on the cliff below us.

It was now quite warm, the sunlight glinted off the gentle waves of the North Sea, and neither of us was in a hurry to break the spell of having all this wildlife to ourselves on such a beautiful morning.

Eventually, the thought of lunch brought us out of the reverie, so we retraced our steps, pausing at the small headland to photograph the cliffs in sunshine and a flyby from some of the Fulmars.

And, yes, the battery is now on charge, although looking at the forecasted wind speed, I won't be attempting a clifftop walk tomorrow morning.


Spadger said...

be prepared!

Imperfect and Tense said...

I Know, I know :o)

Anonymous said...

Lovely. What a beautiful place it is :o)

Spadger said...

I'm not known as Johnny two batteries for nothing!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thank you, CT. Although it has to be admitted that sometimes the beauty rushes in horizontally at 80mph, with consequent windchill!

Spadger said...

Mr Tense - for some reason (probably mashed brain) I had already begun reading this blog and suddenly realised I'd already done so last week - oh well, your blogs always make a lovely re-read anyway.

Two things occurred to me that I'd not mentioned before:
1) Each time you mention the Bay of Semolie it makes me read it as/think of semolina!!
2) The reference to Twite and the connection to your lack of camera battery?!

Further more on the subject of Twite - they really are a lovely bird. I was fortunate enough to see some at Thornham a few weeks back. So nice.

On the subject of a visit to Thornham, I've taken recently to genuinely enjoying going out birdwatching and its actually starting to improve my state of mind. This is as opposed to procrastinating about doing it and then not! The downside is I seem to have seen nearly as many birds this year as I did all last year which is rather worrying. If I keep this up I might/could even see more birds this year than I have in any one year over the past 20!! OMG! (just 49 species required)

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi JD, I do need to research the derivation of Semolie, although as everyone knows, it's a half truth.

Good luck with only bagging 5 species a month for the rest of the year!

Spadger said...

Yeah looks like it could be a tough gig!!