The safari spent Sunday idling the time away in the garden at Base Camp looking after the menagerie. The sun shone from an azure blue sky, it was a lovely spring afternoon.
The sound of tumbling water in the little ornamental cascade was drowned by the throb of lawn mowers, the whine of strimmers, light aircraft passing low overhead, and traffic on the nearby busy road...Ahh a quiet peace of a Sunday afternoon in suburbia...no chance of enjoying the buzz and murmur of the spring insects as they go about their business.
There were two common species today, Mason Wasps, this is last years nest.and the chunky Hoverfly. The Marmalade Fly is another species of Hoverfly but this one was the only one seen this afternoon. A large queen Common Wasp briefly visited the freshly opened flowers of the Crab Apple tree and a Wolf Spider has taken up residence in the rockery around the cascade.
Very few birds were about. A male Blackbird popped over the fence for quick rummage under the rose bushes and a Willow Warbler gave a short snatch of song from a neighbours garden. this species is quite a scarce visitor to Base Camp but are heard, on passage, in the local park when we are out with Frank for his early morning constitutional. So far this migration season there has been very little to report from the park, hardly any birds have been grounded and we have seen absolutely no visible migration yet at all...obviously we are waiting for the 'biggy'!
Sitting in the garden under a stunningly cloud-free blue sky we were hoping the gulls would find us a decent raptor to add to last week's Goshawk. Which, incidentally, is easily the best bird seen from base camp and will take some beating - come on gulls, Honey Buzzard please. A White Stork would also do nicely. (But with all the wide ranging captive bred ones from 'the other side' (Shhhh; Yorkshire!) on the loose at this time of year are any White Storks in this area actually tickable? Now a Black Stork to make up for the one the safari dipped on in Poland last summer would be a different matter altogether.
However, at the moment the gulls are noticeable by their silence! We should be able to hear their commotion above the Sunday human noise pollution.
A solitary Blue Tit breaks the 'natural' quiet; will they try to nest in our bird box this year. The box is meant for House Sparrows if there were any left round here, or will the Great Tits be this year's residents? This time last year they were well on their way to finishing their nest and laying their first egg.
The gulls have come up trumps again - this time they've found a Buzzard soaring over at great height. Three of them have gone to mob it to keep it going on its way. We can just about hear their squawks they are that high up.
The Bronze Ground Beetle was alive and well until the cat trod on it. At least that's what I think caused its demise. The tiny Ant is actually dragging back to its nest and has already moved it a couple of centimetres - how strong is that!
The gulls set off again but this time we couldn't pick anything up. They were circling extremely high and maybe their polarising vision had spotted something way, way up through the haze.
From nearby a Wren gave a quick blast of his strident, sibilant trill. It never ceases to amaze me how something so small can make so much noise. As the afternoon wears on we add singing Chaffinch and overflying Goldfinch to the list. And another tick, Dunnock...the list grows ever longer.
A short visit to the park with Frank (afternoon constitutional this time) sadly without the camera (don't want to be accused of all sorts by taking pictures when there are children about - heaven forbid! - even if the little angels are systematically destroying the place branch by torn off branch) It was a productive trip nonetheless with the season's first Holly Blue (2), Speckled Wood (3) butterflies and a Small Tortoiseshell thrown in for good measure. Recently emerged Red Tailed and White Tailed Bumblebees were also on the wing. The birds did well too and included a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, singing Coal Tit, Song Thrush , Willow Warbler (3) and Blackcap, and a pair of Long Tailed Tits. The feathery remains of a Woodpigeon, probably nailed by the local big female Sparrowhawk were being collected by a pair of eager Greenfinches...now that's what I call recycling! One bird's untimely end is anothers nest!
Later in the evening we set out on an impromptu Great Crested Newt survey as the original plan was to go further afield to look for Otters. But newts it was and we found a good number of Smooth Newts but the only sign of any Great Crests was a single egg neatly stuck in its folded leaf. Water Scorpions didn't disappoint, I don't think I've ever seen so many in one sitting before and with a supporting cast of Water Measurer and other aquatic bits and bobs all in all it was a good evening's work. We even managed to find a couple of ponds with the rare plant Tubular Water Dropwort in them. All this to the accompaniment of a distant Tawny Owl - marvelous; in the truest sense of the word.
Where to next? Must be time to blow the dust off the moth trap soon, although the clear nights recently have still been frosty, including this morning.
In the meantime let us know what's occurring in your outback.
Says it all really!!!!!