Sunday, 23 August 2009

Rain, rain, rain

Well it was never going to last was it? One day's sunshine and straight back to wet and windy. The safari had a couple of plans, not enough sunshine for the first, too windy for the second so Plan C was launched - head inland. An emergency stop was required but we took advantage by looking for the Kingfisher along a regularly used stretch of river. No luck. The place is smothered in Himalayan Balsam. A pretty plant and well liked by bees but I dare say you can have too much of a good thing.As I mentioned bees like it but which species these are is a bit baffling and photographing them was a nightmare as you can see. The turned round iside the flower and came out at full tilt. I like the pointy nose on this one - but note the dark 'Ugg' boots on the hind leg. The pale back seems to be pollen from the stamens in the top of the entrance to the flower.

This one too has the Ugg boots but some our Extreme Photographer, Raf, photographed seemed to be much more wasp like. Thanks to Extreme Photograper, Raf, for the close ups. Yellow legs - no boots. Not a Kingfisher in sight but in the river Brown Trout were jumping for fun after the huge amount of insects the humid weather had brought out. Like this small Caddis Fly.That was it for that site so we went a bit further in to the hills. The rain poured down and we sat it out whilst having a brew. Oh my eye! a Kingfisher flew straight past the bonnet of the Land Rover and landed somewhat out of sight in the vegetation on the far bank. No chance of a pic. The rain eased a little and Raf went for a wander into the stream and came back with this slightly deceased Stone Loach. It has some kind of injury by its pelvic fins, the red patch on the flank. very fresh, a victim of the Kingfisher or unluckily under a stone someone paddling trod on? Whatever the cause of death it was an unusual and totally unexpected find.
The rain eased a little so we headed off upstream. nothing much doing. A few Swallows milling around the farm buildings, a couple of Pied Wagtails on the dry stone wall and brief views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
We did find an awesome Alder tree which at about 20 feet circumference will have to be reported to the Ancient Tree Hunt. A Brown Hare was disturbed from some rushy grassland.

A few minutes later we had a pair of Roe Deer prance across the field in front of us. They disappeared into a rushy gully. The wind was favourable and Raf was dispatched to get a photo. He was within a few yards of them when one of them popped its head up to scout around and spotted him. Before he could get finger to shutter they had legged it over the gully and into the wood out of sight. A Buzzard quartered the field overhead before it glided down the valley.
We followed the deer in to the woods where Frank found a vole or mouse in the leaf litter but that was far to quick on its toes to identify as it bolted into a thick patch of moss. No sign of the deer.
Not alot else about and the rain was getting heavier so it was back to the Land Rover and away. Before we had gone too far we spotted another Brown Hare in the field just the other side of the fence. As we stopped the Land Rover it moved away but soon settled down again. Looks a bit anxious in the first pic, ready to do one.
Settling down but still wary.
Relaxed; enough distance between him and us.

A Kestrel on the wires on the way home was a bonus. seem to see more Buzzards than these these days - how times have changed!

Best bird of the day was well before the safari at a few minutes before 6 am when there was a Peregrine Falcon on the Water Tower round the corner from Base Camp when taking Frank out for his early morning constitutional. Almost glad he got me up so early on a Sunday!!!
Not a bad day out by any stretch and better than expected.
Where to next? What will the week bring...who knows I don't yet.
In the meantime let us know what is wet and wonderful in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

What a great tree that Alder is. Not a lot of older type tree's like that left nowadays.

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Warren - a venerable treee indeed. However, despite the Great Storm of 87 there are still far more round your area than there are up here. (Actually we have worse winds than the 87 storm several times a year!) Have a look at the interactive map on the discoveries page of the Ancient Tree Hunt - put your location into the find box and you'll see what I mean. Click on individual tree icons for details of each tree - there's probably one only a few hundred yards from your front door. If you then find Abbeystead you'll see this tree and the few neighbours it has compared to the SE.

Happy hunting