Friday, January 13, 2017

White horses & white-wingers

Ah, that's more like it. Unbelievably, today was my first day out actually birding in weeks - after a week in London over Christmas with the bins untouched, a week in France over new year with incidental use at best, straight back into assignment deadline-meeting madness upon return and a talk in Sheffield straight after - so with the predicted gale-force north-westerlies, inclemental maelstroms and storm surge due to hit today, it had to be done. I woke up this morning pre-dawn to find a beautiful scene outside the window of a thick layer of fluffy snow covering all surfaces and flurries swirling in the streetlights.

Out soon after, the snow soon turned to sleet and the sleet to rain, but not before I'd hit the seafront, beach and bay corner. By the time I reached the latter, the reality of not being able to physically make it any further was confirmed in comedy style as the wind knocked me backwards onto the rocks, leaving me flapping forlornly skywards in helpless flipped-over turtle style. Time to turn around.... but not before more decent scans of the bay and seafront, where a couple of argentatus Herring Gulls were, disappointingly, the best of the Larus assemblages.

Holed up in a seafront shelter along the esplanade, this afternoon was another scene altogether. I love wild winter birding, especially here in Filey, and it was one of those sessions that makes you forget the fact you can't actually feel any of your fingers or toes. Three hours or so of every type of weather imaginable, the continuingly howling north-westerly, waves that would make a surfers head explode on sight and an incoming, increasingly 'entertaining' tide provided no fewer than four Glaucous Gulls and an Iceland Gull among their wind-battered brethren, battling north or feeding in surf out beyond the Brigg. At one point I'd two Glaucs and the Iceland in the same field of view, and at others, new white-wingers swept by much closer in. Absolute class, and so good to be back in the ring.