This is, apparently, the safari's 300th posts - what a lot of rubbish wot I have rit. But this morning Frank had a little lie in and we got to Patch 1 just at the break of day. It was mild, warm by recent standards and the birds were taking full advantage. The song was beautiful, Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, plenty of Robins, Woodpigeons and Collared Doves and the more raucous Carrion Crows all tuning up for spring now the immediate necessity of finding food has waned somewhat.
But Patch 1 wasn't our prime target for the day...the small matter of a probable American Bittern at the nature reserve takes priority over Blackbirds and Collared Doves. So without further ado and armed with flask and butties off we went as soon as physically possible. No news of the target from the rangers on arrival but 'normal' Bitterns had been seen already. We settled in to the hide and soon had a Sparrowhawk (78) fly past. On the ice a large flock of 320 Black Tailed Godwits (79) roosted, probably a site record and others flying over without landing too. Over the fields to the east we picked out a Stock Dove (80) on the power lines and another on the deck below. A couple of guys didn't believe us as we only had our bins but with the aid of his scope one of them confirmed the ID and was somewhat incredulous that we had managed the ID at that range with just a pair of bins. However we owned up to having seen it fly in and bank round. Kudos lost...integrity intact!
Also in the fields was a flock of between 80 and 100 Linnets (81). whilst watching those and unsuccessfully trying to count them accurately a Buzzard (82) came in from a long way off and joined another in a good old soaring competition.
In between times we moved from hide to hide looking for this that and the other. Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails were noted at various places, at least three of the former and double figures of the latter. But still no sign of any Bitterns for us. We didn't look at the four Long Eared Owls on site, but there had been a Short Eared Owl seen recently, which would be nice as they've become quite scarce brief passage migrants at this site.
Later we were back in the Bird Club hide with some lads from the Midlands and chatting to them discovered that one of them had already had four owl species today. Right at the death, when they were just about to leave he got the fifth, the Short Eared Owl (83) put in a spectacular appearance over the reedbed opposite us. Whilst enjoying that we had fly pasts from a pair of Kestrels and no less than three Bitterns, but no American Bitterns unfortunately. Was it a definite sighting, did it clear out last night, which was clear and fairly windless, or is it still on site...???
As we chatted to the regulars about the day's events we had four Woodcocks leave the bushes adjacent to us. So what was the best bird of the day? The almost clinched Yellow Legged Gull of course, which annoying moved off just as the camera was raised to the scope, while we were whizzing to the next hide all the gulls were flushed by something unknown and it couldn't be relocated...arrrggghhh.
Enjoy part of the Black Tailed Godwit flock with a Great Black Backed Gull behind them.Where to next? Back to the Patches.
In the meantime let us know what you couldn't find in your outback.