Marine warfare.

The bright winter sun bouncing off the wet plumage of scoters offshore at Ainsdale yesterday created the unsettling illusion of white patches on some birds’ heads as they bobbed about halfway out over the tide.
This freaky effect was enough to get my attention, but I didn’t really have time for a prolonged look.
However the thick cloud today meant there was no danger of a repeat Solar Surfie MacGuffin and I gave the flock a good ‘scoping over the lunchtime high tide.
Everything was reassuringly solid black, and largely dozing on the bumpy swell.
Situation normal.
Not much else out there, with the wind making observation tricky – squadrons of Cormorants and a single Red Breasted Merg passed as I shivered on a dune, while Sanderling and Grey Plover looked miserable on the tideline.
I did notice a few GBBs flying slowly over the waves in the same menacing way they do at Marshside when they “dread” the wildfowl, but in general this behaviour didn’t seem to faze the scoters.
Presumably a GBB could handle a sick or injured Common Scoter – I’ve seen ’em knock down a few Wigeon on the marsh over the years – but the seaducks stuck resolutely to the sea.
Were the GBBs trying to flush the scoter?
Did the black puddings know they were safe as long as they stayed on the water?
Why didn’t they dive?
Later three of the brutes plunged into the pack, but I couldn’t make out what they were after as everything was a good distance out.
The gulls could just as easily have been picking on an unfortunate auk that was hidden in the troughs, but it was impossible to pick out in the murk.
Still so many questions…
Just after 1pm about 500 of the scoter took to the air in one of those seemingly pointless bursts of activity inbetween snoozing offshore and flapped south.
No white wing flashes there today – time to head back to the office.

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