Thursday, October 24, 2013

There is a Swan sea

Like so many of late, it was another sublimely rewarding day to be out in my adopted manor here on the Yorkshire coast. Where other days have been about everything from sudden falls of landbirds, (luckily) finding rarities and scarcities, epic seabird movements over crashing waves and plenty more besides, today was all about sunshine, clear blue skies and classic late autumn star-turns.

One of the beneficial side-effects of starting again somewhere new, as we did here in Filey last spring, is the time it takes for the rule of diminishing returns to start taking its toll. Take Whooper Swans as a perfect example. I've seen plenty before in various locations, but they've somehow managed to avoid me so far here on the patch; until today, that is, when one circled the pool at the Dams just above me shortly after dawn. Another highlight worth the wait, and all the better for it.

A couple of hours later and Amity and I were perched on the very tip of Carr Naze, with clear blue North Sea below us. A Twite (rare here) and five Snow Buntings (always a joy) later, and a squadron of nine Whoopers approached from the north, high over the waves, heading straight for us. And that's exactly what they did - at eye level for the latter part, they came within naked-eye contact range, whooping gently to each other all the time, before hanging skillfully in a thermal just beside us, and eventually floating off over the bay.

Of course, they're easy to see with minimal effort, practically hand-fed at reserves with heated hides or padding about in muddy fields at favoured locations in the winter; but there's nothing like happening upon them by chance as they follow the coast in the final stages of their long southbound migration. Happy days indeed.