Sunday, 8 March 2009

A little bit of fieldcraft needed.(now updated with pics)

The safari was on a mission today to see if we could pin down the 'motorway' Roe Deer for a photo opportunity at some time in the future. A check of the relevant Ordnance Survey sheet revealed some Public Footpaths not too far from the area the deer frequent. A Google Earth scan of the patch was useful too. So we loaded up the Land Rover and headed off east.
Down a little lane, turn in to a smaller, narrower lane we came to a dead end - turn round, park up and disembark. Exploring the footpaths was relatively easy as they were well marked but certainly not well used, except by heavy farm machinery, more like rivers of mud than footpaths.
The area in question is 'improved' open pasture with low 'over-trimmed' hedges and as such there was little wildlife to be seen. We followed the footpath to a bridge over the motorway and scanned from this elevated vantage point. A flock of about 50 Woodpigeons was feeding in the adjacent field with a few Lapwings there too. Being late in the day we didn't expect to see the Roe Deer we were just trying to suss out which field(s) they are seen in when driving past along the motorway and then trying to work out if we could find somewhere to stake them out for an early morning photo-shoot next time. But there they were, or at least two of them were there, relaxing in the bottom of a hedge just lying there quietly chewing the cud. far too distant to get any photos but sussed out they definitely were...Sorted! Serious fieldcraft will be needed to get close enough for a photo, but given decent conditions we should be able to manage it.
A Buzzard in perched in a nearby tree was a bonus. Walking back along the mud filled ruts we had another two Buzzards high overhead. They never used to be in this area.

Exploring the local footpaths further we came to a narrow valley woodland, the first Primroses of the year were duly photographed. Midday during March is not the best time for woodland activity and apart from the odd Robin all was still. The vegetation is just beginning to show although there was plenty of Ramsomes (Wild Garlic) quite well advanced. Going to be smelly down there in a couple of weeks!

It's surprising what can be missed going out but found coming back. On our return journey back to the Land Rover at the very beginning of the wood we had walked right past some superb specimens of Horses Hoof Fungus on the bole of a tree. Looking higher up we found an even bigger and better one with Ivy growing right through it - how unusual is that!

That's the beauty of looking at wildlife - You really never know what you are going to find next.

Time to head back to the coast and a brief stop on the cold wildly windy marshes. To our surprise there were six or perhaps seven Little Egrets right by the trackside but as we parked the Land Rover they flew off round the corner out of sight. Following on foot we caught up with them but again they were very skittish and flushed as soon as they spotted us despite our best efforts at concealment. They kept annoyingly just out of range...these digiscopers have it easy!! A female Kestrel hovered on the updraft from the seawall and a Meadow Pipit called overhead but the marshes were quiet with only small groups of Curlew, Mallard and a couple of pairs of Shelducks out there.

It's not long ago I zoomed off to Anglesey in north Wales to twitch one of these for my life list - who would have thought within a few short years they'd be as common as muck on the local patches.
Time to point the Land Rover back to Base Camp for a warming cup of tea and plan the 'assault' on the Roe Deer.

Where to next? back to work and strong winds forecast for the week so probably only a quick peek over the sea wall, maybe some Little Gulls or Kittiwakes passing; who knows?

In the meantime let us know what you plan to capture in your outback.

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