Its first safari was a short affternoon visit to Marton Mere nature reserve. What a trip it turned out to be. Within minutes of setting off along the path we had crippling views of a Kingfisher resplendent in the sunshine. Probably the best views of this species I have had at this site in 18 years! Not a hundred metres further on we came across a very obliging male Stonechat which sadly didn't want to be photographed. A female was in the rough ground on the opposite side of the track.
Following the path round through the reedbed we arrived at the first line of bushes...we had had a tip off that there was a Long Eared Owl in the second Hawthorn along. Sure enough a good scour with the binoculars revealed him(?) secreted deep in the bush.
Most of the mere itself was frozen and there was a huge number of gulls. A patient scan revealed no Glaucous Winged Gulls...a bit hopefull but the recent one at Teeside hadn't been reported on the pagers so there was a very, very, very slim chance it could have been lurking in the flock...as it was there were no oddball gulls at all, not even a (relatively common) Mediterranean Gull.
We moved on passing the same Kestrel that I posted a fewe blogs ago sitting in almost the same tree. Leaving the reserve the safari took the outer perimeter path where there was very little wildlife action. Stopping at the usual bushes we could see no Long Eared Owls but were told they had moved a few metres further east and were visible but difficult as we were looking in to the low winter sun. Careful scrutiny of the scrub eventually revealed five, only one of which was particularly obvious.
Whilst we were searching for the owls our attention was drawn to a remarkably confiding Robin, which approached to within a metre of us. Frank the 'slobrador' had a messed up a small drainage channel, as Labradors do, and the resultant turned mud was of great interest to the Robin. As soon as Frank moved out of the way the Robin was in there gleaning invertebrates...we couldn't see any but it managed to find some every time Frank churned up the mud.
Returning along the embankment we saw the Kingfisher again, this time face on but the sun had dropped lower and it the Kingfisher was as glorious as before. We dropped in to the Fylde Bird Club hide and saw the hybrid(?) female Ferruginous Duck thingy. It looks pretty good for a pure bred female of the species but there are doubts over the actual colour of its wing bar, which should be pure white, but no-one has yet had a convincing view of. A lengthy scan of the reedbed illuminated in the winter sunshine revealed no Bitterns sadly.
Moles in the grassland around the southern edge of the mere had been very active, some of there molehills were huge...and there were plenty of them...I should have taken a photo.
A short but sweet safari. Photos to be added later...sorry...downloading problems!
Where to next? a bit further afield perhaps.
In the meantime let us know where you new or old vehicle has taken you in to your outback.