Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Fun in the sun

The Waxwings will have to wait a while. The safari only went as far as the local nature reserve on a cold day with a fierce wind. None-the-less it was a good day. Now that the leaves have dropped we get to see all the summer's secrets. This nest is from a Goldfinch or Greenfinch and is placed high in a bush which I remember planting, when I was Warden at this site, not too many years ago - it's great to know your efforts really do have positive results and make a real difference - conservation in action!

Further round the track we came upon these well chewed Rosehips, the greedy culprits are Greenfinches in this case. Again I can remember planting these bushes.

On the water there were a good many Coots and in the margins a fair few Moorhens. In a recent post I said that Mediterranean Gulls were the best bird in the book - well guess what? - I've changed my mind...it could be Coots or it could be Moorhens (Woggies). The Moorhens have the red beak and the Coots are the ones with the full white face - hence the saying as bald as a Coot. Close inspection at the top of their head will reveal no sign of a bald patch! Hope I've done a better job of photographing these black birds - I do struggle with them and the light wasn't up to much...too many excuses perhaps.

The day was a good one for raptors. We tried to sneak up on a Buzzard sitting minding its own business in the top of a small tree. Just as it was within camera range a Magpie appeared from nowhere and practically landed on its back. The Buzzard took off across the field with the Magpie in hot pursuit and was joined by three Carrion Crows who increased the mobbing to intolerable levels and the Buzzard soared away in to the distance.

The field behind the Buzzard held about 1,000 Pink Footed Geese. We had already missed a photo opportunity with the Buzzard, just missed a Kingfisher by minutes - someone else flushed it accidentally, and the Buzzard had made the Geese nervy. Getting close wasn't going to be easy. Fortunately a thick hedge provided enough cover and we were able to peer through a small gap without upsetting the flock too much although they certainly knew we were there.

Moving quietly away from the Pink Feet our attention was grabbed by a blue bullet. A male Peregrine Falcon sped past us only a few feet off the ground in an attempt to get amongst a flock of Woodpigeons feeding in the stubble. They spotted him and his blast was unsuccessful. He had a couple of half hearted swoops before moving off to terrorise some other flock of unsuspecting Pigeons.

This below isn't him its a male Kestrel hanging in the wind. Don't be fooled by the azure blue sky, it was a long way off summer.

The feeding station held a nice variety of birds, nothing out of the ordinary but plenty of bright male Chaffinches like this handsome chap.

The number of small birds attracted the attention of a Sparrowhawk, which if anything was travelling even faster than the Peregrine we had seen a few minutes earlier. Maybe it just seemed it was faster because it was nearer and we had the bushes as a background. It was certainly shifting, but like the Peregrine it missed its evening meal.

Bumping in to the Ranger we learned that he had just seen two Grey Partridges crossing the track in front of his pick up. Nice to know this increasingly scarce bird is still about. He also told us where to look for the Long Eared Owl as it had moved since the last Safari. Not the best views of it (we couldn't find the other three) but welcome all the same.

In the last of the light we headed back to Base Camp - a good afternoon's safari.

Where to next? Those Waxwings are a must before they eat all the berries and move on.

In the meantime let us know what you have found in your 'outback'.

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