Winters coming and the white-wingers are leaving their snowy wastes and heading our way.
Today at Daniel’s Head started promising but the wind god did a body swerve and flipped it from south-westerlies of a decent gust to north-westerlies which, at this time of year, are of no use to man nor beast. Over the space of half-an-hour the promising Black-legged Kittiwake southerly passage had petered out to involve just distant, banking birds.
The tide was on the up and most gulls were taking advantage of the beached Kelp, hopefully eating as many of those irritating flies as is gullarly (new word, same as humanly but for gulls) possible. In the midst of the regular bruisers, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were four dove-faced Iceland Gulls. For whatever reason the mass got up and wandered off towards The Cape so I took the hint and went home.
The main object of our searching today was Franklin’s Gull. Conditions in the Mid-West had conjured up a significant incursion in the east although most of the impressive numbers seem to be south of Massachusetts. The flight started on Friday, so it might take a few days for birds displaced to the north to follow the lay of the land south to either Yarmouth or, preferably, Daniel’s Head/The Hawk. I saw none this morning and an afternoon trip where the wind was a factor didn’t oblige us, tomorrow maybe.
Out little tour took in all the gull hotspots around CSI, the highlight being a couple of Iceland Gulls around West Head Quay. One adult was kind enough to smile for the camera. Most Iceland Gulls are of the kumlieni type, with shading of various intensity around the primary tips. This bird has that but only very vaguely and is typical of the ones that show up in the UK and tease gull-watchers.
A couple of days ago Mike MacDonald and I did a bit of a tour. We started at the French Basin Trail at Annapolis Royal where the wildfowl were present in good numbers and variety. We walked the periphery and were almost back to the start of the trail before we picked up the female type Redhead that Sandra and I had found a few days previously. It is tricky to pick up because it is active and hangs out with Mallards which most people routinely ignore unless a menu item with orange sauce. Nine Ruddy Ducks were also present.
Next stop was to be Miner’s Marsh in Kentville with the lingering hope that the Marsh Wren remained. On the way we scored a Northern Goshawk, which was nice. Miner’s Marsh was pleasant but no wren. The clock said we had time to go to Truro goosing (the legal type), even if logic tutted in the background, so we did. We toured several sites, finding a Cackling Goose at Tidal Bore Road and a scattering of birds at other sites but neither of the other local celebrity geese, Greater Whitefront and Pink-footed. It may be that goose hunters in the area had already eliminated them from the equation or maybe they just headed off for quieter climes.
Another Redhead doc shot.
While chasing around, this Peregrine (above) soared overhead, sort of, we had to tear down a road to get under it but it was worth it. A big bird, certainly a female and pity the poor local Rock Doves when she feels peckish. No not really!
For the record, the Cackling Goose was NS tick #250. Given a choice I wouldn’t have picked any goose for a milestone but you take what you get.
For those of you who like a bit of a read, here is a piece from ‘Park Life’. It deals with a little problem not really of my making. Things to know: Dragons Teeth are 1m high stumps planted in the ground to stop baddies. Jack is a part-time warden, Adrian is a grounds maintenance guy and a Landrover is two tons of angry metal in the wrong hands. The event took place at Colwick Country Park where I was a warden for fifteen years, enjoy.
It was late in the afternoon when a dog walker came into the park Fishing Lodge and told us about a dumped, stolen car. Unusually, this one had been driven into an area below a set of Sluice Gates on the River Trent. If you don’t know it, there is a steep drop down a concrete bank of perhaps 30 feet, there the river is significantly lower than above the sluice. Adrian and I went to take a look and how creative the little scamps had been. They’d damaged dragon’s teeth, ploughed through soft grass and pitched the SUV, or ‘somewhat underwater vehicle’, over the side and now it was precariously perched on a rocky point out in the river and about 15 feet from the bank.
Our first problem was to get a rope onto it, then the Land Rover winch. A bulls-eye shot with a boat anchor allowed us to pull it towards us, and then we were ready for the big haul, back up the bank. Tying the Land Rover to a tree, a big one, we started the recovery and the SUV edged slowly up the bank. We were a few feet from getting the back wheels on the level bank in front of us when the hook ripped out and the SUV careened back down the slope, this time skipping further out into the river and beyond recovery, for us at least. Admitting defeat we headed back to base.
Being inside the dragon’s teeth as we were, we took a track that paralleled the road, a long plantation was to our right. The speed limits on the park are naturally modest and we were well below them, going perhaps 10-15mph. As we approached our exit point, a man suddenly jumped out of the plantation that was tight to our right, his back towards us. I hit the brakes, then the man and he went up in the air, flipped and landed with a leg either side of the Land Rover driver’s side front wheel.
Adrian said “you’ve hit him”, he has an eye for detail our Adrian! I was already climbing out of the now stationary Land Rover ready to lend assistance. The good news for him ( I won’t use the emotive word ‘victim) was that I’d stopped short, but another two inches and he’d have never needed a ribbed condom, ever again.
This was an emergency. The man was slipping in and out of consciousness and had a permanent look of surprise. I used my radio to call the Fishing Lodge, where I knew that Jack would be next to a phone. The conversation went like this:
“Colwick three (me) to control, I have an emergency”
Silence, so I repeated the message, silence. One more try elicited a response.
“Are you calling Mark?”
“Yes Jack we have an emergency”
“Control to Colwick three, are you calling?”
“Yes Jack, we have an emergency, I need an ambulance urgently”
By this time a lady has arrived with a dog (off the lead). Looking down, she recognised her prostrate husband and started to give hysterical a try. The dog too joined in, barking and howling, I’m still trying to get Jack to respond despite the increasingly noisy parties.
The problem was that the old type radios we had were forever picking up interference and conversations were rarely audible, not great if the recipient of a call is a bit deaf to start with. Eventually Jack caught the message and an ambulance arrived. The victim was now fully conscious and told me why he jumped out, he’d been playing hide and seek with his dog (not sure who won that one!)
The ambulance carted the chap off to hospital and his wife, who had now calmed down a bit, started to panic about the dog, it was not allowed in the ambulance and she couldn’t drive the car. Feeling a bit guilty for hitting her old man with a big Land Rover, I arranged to drive their car home along with the dog, letting it in the house and then posting the keys through the letterbox. Adrian followed me in the Land Rover, careful to avoid adding any more victims to the day’s tally, the dog seemed a bit confused.
Quite a while later, the inevitable threat to sue arrived and I was interviewed by the Police. They decided that I had no case to answer and we chose not to push for the price of the repairs to the badly dented Land Rover hood, it was all very amicable, really, we never did get the SUV out.