The safari had a very nice afternoon stroll around Marton Mere this arvo. On arriving and getting out of the Land Rover we could hear Whooper Swans calling. But these would have to wait. The matter of Cetti's Warblers needed sorting first, as did a small flock of gulls sitting, or more accurately falling through, the patch of thin ice. Nothing worth reporting in the gulls though. As luck would have it we could see the Whoopers, a family party of ma, pa and their four kids, in the distance close to one of the hides, they'd save until later in the afternoon. Meanwhile the Cetti's were notable by their somewhat unusual silence. With nothing doing on the Cetti's front it was time to check out the Long Eared Owls. On the way we had a quick look for Jack Snipe but only managed to nearly tread on an ordinary Snipe even though we had just scanned the area thoroughly! Glad we had the ranger with us because they weren't easy and not on the same branches as last year. Can you see it?This one any better? Not a lot I think.
Hardly going to trouble Bird Guides Photo of the Week page are they?
With three Long eared Owls in the bag the Whoopers were now about to fall. But they had other ideas, the swines had moved from right in front of the hide to over by the scrape.
Seventeen Gadwall graced the mere a good tally for this species which bred here for the first time this summer.
Other ducks included a very tidy 60 Wigeon, three dozen Shovelers, and a good score of Teal, but no Green Wingers amongst them as far as we could tell. Pochard numbers seemed pretty low as did Tufted Duck which we neglected to check through in case of a Ring Necked Duck or a dodgy hybrid. a lone female Goldeneye was joined by three others at dusk. At the death whilst waiting for a chance of Barn Owl another 50 odd Whooper Swans came in overhead but 20 0r so split off and landed in the adjacent fields.
The Cetti's gave us a right run around. One was almost beneath the hide window but would it show, then a Wren darted out; have we been making an elementary mistake? Another(?) Cetti's piped up calling from an island of reeds in front of the hide but we hadn't noticed a bird fly across the little gap to it. Then out of nowhere we saw one do exactly that! So deffo two but again would they show for a photo - no chance.
We wandered around the far side to check over the reed bed for Bitterns and fluked a short snatvh of Cetti's song from a few yards west of the West Planting Hide. A disappointing day for gulls - none on the mere to grill. No Bitterns put in appearance either despite it being a perfect evening for one to pop up.
The sunset wasn't too spectacular but did light up the farmhouse windows looking like the house was ablaze inside. The tower didn't look too bad either
Did we see the Barny? Did we heck, no Little Owl this evening either, not sure if he's been seen on the barns recently. The sound of wildfowl settling down for the night of flighting off to feed during the hours of darkness was a beautiful end to the day.
Where to next? Back to Patch 1 tomorrow - will the Peregrine be there, missed him these last few days.
In the meantime let us know which duck is which in your outback.