Monday, 16 March 2009

Scuppered - The safari goes down the drain!

Ah - the best laid plans! We were hoping to join a green-laning jaunt around the few remaining unsurfaced tracks in north Lancashire.
Sadly it was not to be a broken drain put paid to all thoughts of Land Rover trips out except to the recycling centre (tip) with a heavy trailer load of rubble and mud.
To see what we missed got to looked like a good day out although one of the participants said Snape Rake Lane might be too tough for an unmodified Disco...the safari's old one did it easy peasy with its only modification being mud terrain tyres and a little armour plating underneath - just go slow and let the car do the work and put the power on gently when needed and you should be OK. See The safari has also done the River Wyre crossing in the old Disco and was hoping to Christen the new one with this ford this weekend.
Despite the sawing through very hard comcrete and the digging out of very wet, smelly, heavy clay the spring sunshine meant the wildlife came to us. The first Blackcap of the year was singing away in the little patch of rough scrub at the end of the next street up the hill, and two Goldcrests flitted around the trees at the bottom of the garden here at Base Camp. Overhead there were signs that visible migration was taking place. At various times three Pied Wagtails and two Grey Wagtails flew over with a single Meadow Pipit and Lesser Redpoll thrown in for good measure. There ws probably more but as most of the morning was taken up by cutting concrete the noise of the saw drowned out all but the loudest yelled instructions so obviously we weren't going to hear the calls of over-flying migrants. A few times we heard the gulls start squawking in a great commotion but from our restricted vantage point we couldn't tell if there were any raptors going over that had upset them. (Where did that Red Kite that was reported end up?)
However the sunshine did bring other rewards as it was warm for the time of year. we managed our first Peacock butterfly and White Tailed Bumble Bees of the season.
Mid afternoon we got a call from the Rangers in the park. They said they were watching something unusual. What could it be? Not the, there were birders behind them watching that. Ah, so whatever it was was on or over the lake! An Osprey fishing?...No...a Little Egret in amongst the Grey Heron nesting colony on the island?...No...What then?...A bat!!! At 3.30 in the afternoon a bat was flying over the lake. There had been a large hatch of midges earlier in the day and this bat was taking full advantage.
Finally a little later we had a brief visit with Frank to the local pond which was seething with frogs, well over a hundred of them. What a lot of spawn...buckets of the stuff..amazing.
Can you see 'em?

You can now!

And finally finally a couple of pics from todays short afternoon site visits.

A rather large ant's nest.
With these tiny wee flowers - help please I can't remember what they are. My plant ID skills are sadly waning from not enough practice.

Spen Dyke - this is the last unculverted section of the river/stream/dyke that used to reach the sea that gave our town its name.

The history of Blackpool can be charted from as early as 1769 with about 28 dwellings stretched along the coastal beach. By the mid 1800’s the town was developing around the Layton-Warbreck areas and a sewerage system was in place which discharged through open dykes into the main outlet to the sea known as Spen Dyke.
This historical open watercourse, providing natural drainage to the sea, was originally known as “Le Pull” or “The Poole”. Its North Westerly course ran through the Marton Moss peat lands which discoloured the water making it known as “The Black Poole”. So now you know!

Loads of Frogspawn at Lawson's Wetland. You can see the scale from my colleagues very natty welly-bobs! But this is a trifling amount compared to our local pond at Base Camp. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was seen here too. I hope they have a much better summer this year than the last few years - they certainly need it.

Where to next? If the gentle breezes continue the sea has to be worth a look.

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

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