Day 11 Tuesday the 7th of May
Today with blue skies and less wind promised we decided to give RSPB Balranald a proper go, we have been before a couple of times but with weather conditions less friendly, Corn Bunting was having a singsong in the car park but no Corncrake calls were forthcoming so we headed down the nature trail, plenty of Wheatear along here with the Pied Wags, Skylarks and Mipits, Rock Dove, Common Gull and Whimbrel on the fields and plenty Oystercatchers of course. As we walked into the dunes, we heard another Corn Bunting singing and there were 3 more knocking about, a flock of Eider were close in on the bay as were a couple of Great Northern Divers, the beach was alive with small waders, with Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Turnstones galore.
Hitting the point the local Arctic Terns were very vocal and visible calling and flying about, Ringos and Wheatear were running about all over and a couple of Common Gulls were doing what comes natural when the sun shines! Despite the less than ideal conditions, wind in the wrong direction etc I decided to have a Seawatch, not much about though a Black Guillemot going south was nice, more GND on the sea as well as a Shag and a Cormorant ,some Gannets went through and a small party of Terns, suddenly along the beach comes a Bonxie didn’t get the camera on it til it was nearly past but managed a couple of shots, a Barnacle Goose appeared and did a circuit before disappearing the way it had come ,suspecting it might be on the small loch just back from the point we headed back the way we had come sure enough there it was pretending to be an Oystercatcher, distant but got a few pics, as we are watching a flock of four geese come by heading North they don’t look like Greylags, sure enough Pinkfeet record shots obtained of the departing birds we head back towards the visitor center we bump into a couple of birders who say they have had a couple of Purple Sandpipers on the tide line with the Dunlin, despite the fact that there are thousands of waders almost invisible in the seaweed and even more on the beach we decide to give it a go!! As I am scanning through the scope, very focused dismissing Dunlin after Dunlin, Turnstone after Turnstone etc etc a small white bird appears in the scope strange looking wader I’m thinking before the brain makes the leap Little Tern!! Soon joined by another with a fish and we watch their strange little courtship dance until rudely interrupted by a Common Gull trying to nick the fish, no class some birds!! Anyway, all hell breaks loose the Little Tern gives the gull a right kicking then returns with the fish as he is doing it a Purple Sandpiper walks straight into scope view, bonus!!
We decide it’s cake time and head back to the start where “The Dunes” sandwich van on the campsite provides Smoked Salmon rolls and an excellent and large slice of Coffee and Walnut cake, very nice coffee as well, heartily recommend the place if your visiting, we eat our repast in the car hoping to be serenaded by Corncrakes but it’s not to be have to make do with Skylarks and Corn Bunting oh well!! After this we head up to St Kilda’s watchpoint hoping for a repeat of the Raptorfest from the other day Nada!! Still heading back down I spot a Snipe sat on a post which posed nicely for a good couple of minutes!!
After an hour back at base we decide to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Beach on Baleshare as we arrive a massive flock of something is heading North ,possibly Golden Plover? The tide is out and it looks lovely though birdless the sun is so bright on the sand I have to wear me shades, we walk along the deserted beach, blue sea ,big sky all is right with the world a lovely place to be with the woman of my dreams, there are patches of rocks along the Beach and of course Margie wants to explore and take arty pics etc, though I refuse to take me top off far to cold in the breeze!! As we approach the first patch of rocks, a small group of Dunlin erupt out ah this is where they are hiding, almost impossible to see we change tack as not to disturb them, although it’s basically impossible as they fly well before you see them although the occasional one sits still and poses for pics, they and the Ringed Plovers with them are constantly up and down with the waves anyway ,I leave Margie to it and head up to the dunes a few Lapwings and some Rabbits seem to be about it heading back to the beach I pick up two dark dots way in the distance heading this way, Skuas? Oh yes arriving deceptively fast around the bend I nearly miss my chance but get on the first bird a Dark Phase Arctic, but fail miserably to get on the second one, (I notice a Long-tailed Skua was reported south past Balranald anyone know what time? And if so, was it with an Arctic?) Still happy as I walk down the beach and pick up another larger dot coming off the land, White-tailed Eagle carrying something (Appears to be Seaweed from photos) but it spirals high out to sea. We walk back along the beach very relaxed and happy with the world!
Some pics at the link below not easy in the bright sunshine, most of the arty rockpool/beach type ones are Margie