It was a simple equation of intrepid or stupid this morning as the storm clouds rolled in on the stiff westerly wind, with the chances of rain being more a case of 'when' rather than 'if'! 'When', as it turned out, was just a few hundred meters from home as I exited the bird-less cemetery with a downpour of Biblical proportions leaving me as wet as one of the Cormorants seen feeding while passing Radipole Lake.
On the subject of feeding birds, it was strange (the first time for me) to see a Great Black-backed Gull feeding on corn at the path-side verge usually reserved for feral Pigeons and more confiding Waterfowl. But enough of that and on to the bus. The rain continued to increase, especially across the Beach Road, but moderated as we reached Avalanche Church
but there was still need to shelter in the lee of a convenient hedge as I surveyed a gloomy looking Bill Road towards the Observatory. On the way I managed to clock up 13 Wheatear and a trickle of Swallows and Martins heading straight out to sea regardless of the conditions.
In the Obs garden there was this rather sickly looking female Pied Flycatcher but that was all seen there. After coffee it was a walk to the Obelisk at the Bill,
and on the way there was just a single Yellow Wagtail flying over and this small group of hardy (or stupid) anglers.
Out to sea there was a largish tug towing an even longer barge, and with reference to the AIS (real time) Vessel Traffic and Position web-site (thanks to Mr Cade) it was seen to be the Panamanian registered Tug Courbet bound for Sete, France on the Mediterranean Coast. Rather her than me shaping up for the Bay of Biscay on such a day!
At the point, all of note were 2 passing Mediterranean Gulls while further on at a wind and sea battered
there were a few Gannets
and Shags flying by. There had been a number of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skuas, plus an unexpected Puffin but not seen by me.
In the Bill Quarry several of the resident Starlings waited on the rocks while I passed by, and headed for Ferry Bridge.
There, the tide was still pretty high but given the wind and sea conditions not a surprise to see the sailing fraternity mustered 'mob-handed'.
Kite-boarders alike, and while the action is always exciting today there was a special treat as this guy showed off his skills.
At a speed estimated to be over 30 knots, he raced across the wind then at the opportune moment launched himself high above the sea surface, and achieving the horizontal.
All of this was no more than a few yards from the shore, and as I stood there alone marveling at these skills I couldn't help but applaud loudly.
Not all of these maneuvers met will success, but even the 'crash landings' were spectacular and didn't seem to phase him one bit. Let's hope it isn't too long before we see both of these disciplines become Olympic sports!
my, and probably the Counties, first Brent Goose flew out of the now clearing sky. On the wing for a full 10 minutes, it eventually settled on the sea
but eventually it settled
and occasionally came quite close.