Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Eye, eye what’s goin’ on ear?

The safari thinks patch ticks must be like buses. You wait for ages and then two come along together. Yes that’s right folks we got another tick on Patch 1 this morning! Nothing was out off the ordinary as we walked up the hill, the usual Robins warbled away in the gardens and the early Blackbirds made the most of the light from the streetlamps. As we rounded the corner on to the first field we came across a Hedgehog. It’s getting quite late in the year for these little fellas to still be out and about and this one didn’t look all that big so we hope it has a chance during the forthcoming mild weather to lay down a few more ounces of fat before it goes to bed for the winter. (That’s one helluva sentence!)
Onward through the posh houses and into the pitch black of the park. As soon as we hit the darkness a Snipe called overhead…tick! Don’t know if it had been on the ground, feeding in the rough grassland adjacent or was on its way somewhere. Nice one why-ever it was there and again totally unexpected. Years ago we used to get triple figure counts of Snipe on the nature reserve but their numbers seem to have dropped considerably recently. This could be due to continental winters being warmer so less are coming to the UK, or the wet summers and autumns have led to more available habitat elsewhere, or there are just fewer of them. One of my best pictures is of a Snipe showing how well they are camouflaged against fallen reeds, pity it’s on a slide so I can’t show it to you – must get round to converting them to digital one day. I remember the day well – it was nice and sunny but cold. In front of the hide only a few yards away I could see about a dozen Snipe, one was particularly close. I cautiously stuck the telephoto out of the window, slowly focused and CLUNK the shutter went with a clatter on that old Praktica, over 50 Snipe got up from the fallen reeds in front of me – how come I’d only seen a dozen? At least the picture came out well.
Nothing much else out on the patch. The sweet smell of ‘herbal cigarettes’ still hung in the air after lasts night’s chav-fest in there. No sign of Mr Fox today but walking along the path I bumped straight into an overhanging branch/twig in the darkness and nearly poked my eye out – it is now horribly bloodshot, painful and blurry…not to mention swelling up and looking a bit blue round the edges…Patch 2 was a struggle looking down the scope with a dodgy eye and we couldn’t pick up much; best of the rather limited bunch was a drake Eider sitting aloof from a handful of Common Scoters and two Cormorants fishing together, looking very Silurian. I feel a compensation claim coming on or at least an early finish to go and sit in a darkened room for a couple of hours…
Where to next? Not sure if we’ll be able to see to go anywhere or use the optics if we get there. Patch 1 might be on the cards as they say good things come in what's next; another wader, overflying Redshank or Green Sandpiper perhaps...who knows.
In the meantime let us know what’s likely to cause actual bodily harm in your outback.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Well you certainly paid for those patch ticks dave! look after that eye mate!!