The safari was feeling a bit down this morning. Hardly surprising when we have recently learnt our pay is being cut by a pocket busting, mortgage crunching, home losing savage 21.5%!!! Even worse the Land Rover is losing gearbox oil at a rate of knots so an expensive repair is looking likely - a few pence for a seal - probably a few hundred pounds to get the gearbox out to fit it...dohhh. Wouldn't mind but it's hardly given much rough treatment!
We certainly needed something to lift our spirits. Thankfully Patch 1 provided just that this morning. It was cold but noisy! We were out an hour later than normal and the birds did not disappoint. Dunnocks were singing from almost every garden as were Robins. Over them the song of Blackbirds filled the still morning air. The usual Song Thrushes were battling it out for vocal supremacy. The day dawned with a superb, almost cloudless, red sky. Greenfinch and Great Tit were heard singing for the first time and from the little patch of scrub two Wrens challenged each other in a high volume duet.
Up on the tower the Peregrine surveyed the scene beneath him, whilst in the park a little male Sparrowhawk yik-yik-yikked, terrifying two Blackbirds which were puling their breakfast of worms from the gound. They were stock still as we passed within a few feet of them - they dared not take to the wing as the Spar was sitting on a low branch not 20 feet away and they knew it!
Woodpigeons were waking up and the park filled with their hoo-hoo-hoo--hoo-hooo cooings.
Through the trees we heard a distant skein of Pink Footed Geese followed by another 27 right overhead. Also overhead was a lone Oystercatcher - a good find on the patch - and a pair of Great Back Backed Gulls calling their baritone aughh aughh aughh, these too are a good find over the patch, later there were two more!
We roughly counted at least 30 Magpies leaving their roost in Magpie Wood, these were just the ones that had gone north so there must have been others.
Best was saved until last; the Starlings were phonenemal again. One large flock today, no idea how many but they were in a much looser formation than the other day. They passed overhead just above chimney height as we reached the crest of the hill. Looking down on them they followed the contours staying a few feet over the rooftops - there were thousands of them covering the whole eastern side of town that we could see - musta been over a SQUARE MILE of Starlings - what a truly impressive sight. And most people think they are a pest to be despised (might be true if you're in the States, New Zealand or Aus) but I think they provide one of Britain's best wildlife spectacles. Indeed this morning if you took away the houses and replaced it with hot dry grassland you could almost imagine them to be Wildebeest racing across the plains of East Africa.
Our Extreme Photographer popped round later for a chat and a brew in his replacement for the Moose. A very tasty looking Land Rover it is too and some nice mods to folllow.