Monday, 23 December 2013

15,000 seconds of light....

An account in words, numbers and pictures of the now annual Festive Walk that my good buddy Johnny and I keep as a most welcome Christmas tradition.

The rules of the walk.
1. Cake must be consumed on the way round.

2. A "festive" Robin must be photographed or the walk cannot end.

It was a fantastic sunny day and we set out off to the beach with lots of munchies, clear memory cards and high hopes. On the shore we wolfed down a couple of bacon butties and watched the holy trinity of Thurstaston Shore (Black-tailed Godwits, Knot & Pintail) being pushed around by the incoming tide.

John made like a rock and got close to some Pintail for a few pictures....

...before they and the other birds moved up to the marshes off Heswall, a few giving us a great fly past and reminding me why they are my favourite duck.

After a couple of hours on the shore we headed inland across Heswall Fields. To describe the pace of our walk as leisurely would have been generous, we were in no rush. We stopped to eat, look for birds, have a bit of flask.

At the gate we discussed Johnny's upcoming nuptuals (she's a brave girl), this year's injuries (John is currently office bound so my axe ricochet to shin easily beats his paper cuts) and photography plans for 2014 (you should be hearing a bit about the Mudfalt 3000 in the coming months).

We wandered along the Wirral Way looking for winter Thrushes and after a brief search we found some. 4 Fieldfares in a Hawthorn.

In the tangle of thorns we tried for some pictures. Origionally this picture is not what I wanted. I was after something with a clean background. After spending time looking at my Fieldfatre pictures I decided I liked this one best. The background reminds me of a messy Jackson Pollock painting, and I like his art. (Please be aware I am in NO WAY comparing this dodgy picture of a Fieldfare to great art!)

The walk in numbers:

Duration:                                  15,720 seconds
Distance:                                  4.4 miles
Pictures taken:                         427

Bird species seen:                    47
Numbers:   Pintail:                    1,300 (a record for Thurstaston)
                   Blackwits:              1,400 (2 colour ringed)
                   Knot:                      thousands!
                   Little Egret:           1
                   Golden Plover:      150 (great to see these!)
                   Buzzard:                1
                   Fox:                       1 (a treat to see)
                   Fieldfare:               4

Consumed: Mince pies: 2
                   Stollen bites: 4
                   Cranberry & Orange loaf: 1 big slice
                   Bacon sandwich: 2 (both with brown sauce)
                   Cups of whiskey spice Christmas punch: 2
                   Flask of coffee (decaff)

Football:     Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff (top of the league)

Conspicuous by their absence:       Peregrine

We are nearly back to the start and we have not managed a picture of a Robin. This is not good because as you will know from the top of this post, we cannot finish the walk until we have recorded a "festive" Robin. This is more of an issue for Johnny than me. He has a fiance to pick up and Christmas shopping to finish!

We stop to finish the munchies. Some stollen is washed down with the last of the flask. As we chew our final sweet treat a very festive Robin appears in the willow next to the bench. We crumble some of the final piece of stollen on the end of our bench and hope the Robin  comes down to the bait.

Soom enough it plucks up the courage and joins us on the bench to share in some festive cheer and confectionary. Magic.

So I start Christmas sharing stollen with Johnny and a Robin. Brilliant We can finish our walk and begin the Yuletide festivities.

Merry Christmas

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