A late, but welcome, flyover Pied Wagtail brought the final total at Base Camp to 24 species, admittedly most were fly overs but what do you expect in a tiny garden which is mostly pond! I'm sure we could have had more if our neighbours hadn't been so heavy handed with their chainsaws over the past couple of years. We used to be on a habitat highway to somewhere now we are a bit of an isolated island of greenery in an increasingly treeless suburban desert. Is it just me or are other people noticing a general 'downer' on street and garden trees at the moment. Everyone loves rainforests and can't wait to visit woodland beauty spots but come hell or high water that tree in the garden has to go! Shame!
A short afternoon safari to Marton Mere nature reserve had rather mixed results. Surprisingly there were no Long Eared Owls showing, despite the safari and several out-of-towners looking we couldn't find any of them - not even the easy one was on its usual branch. Unfortunately for those that had travelled for a 'tick' there were fresh footprints on the other side of the fence where it looked suspiciously like some numb-nut had earlier climbed over for a 'better' view' and flushed them. Never-the-less wandering back in to the reserve to see if they could be found from another track we passed a nice pair of Stonechats sitting up high, the male in particular was looking very dapper.
The mere itself was very quiet. a moderate gull roost contained mostly Common Gulls but repeated searches revealed no unusual species. A flock of about 25 Shovelers was feeding actively - spinning round sieving out the plankton with gusto. Two pairs of Gadwall are still on site - will they breed here for the first time this summer?
In the distance we could see a couple of large flocks of Pink Footed Geese over their favoured feeding fields and closer in a Buzzard soared lazily in the afternoon sun.
Closer still in the field just over the reserve boundary was a decent flock of about 60 Linnets and a passing Kestrel did us a favour by flushing the first Stock Doves of the safari's year.
A pair of Oystercatchers flew over duetting in a display flight and were later 'singing' on the edge of the island.
Another look over the mere revealed seven Great Crested Grebes, although we had been told there were nine on site earlier in the afternoon. A fluke photograph of a Long Tailed Tit was taken which you might see tomorrow if its any good as this computer has started spitting out cameras for no good reason and I am unable to download pics at the moment. Four cameras at Base Camp and the computer has sent them all to Coventry! would you believe it!
Just as we were leaving site we found a flock of about a dozen Redwings, all posing very nicely on a small piece of lawn - what stunning little thrushes they are...that adage that cars make good hides simply isn't true! We wound the window down - the birds flew to the other end of the lawn, quietly we released the handbrake and let the Land Rover roll down the hill and round the corner, back to where we had been...this happened twice more before they decided that'd had enough and flew to the top of the tall Poplar trees and well out of camera range...the swines!
Where to next? Spring is getting nearer but there is a cold spell forecast so anything could happen.
In the meantime let us know what's impossible to photograph in your outback.