Monday, 15 March 2010

'Dips'appointed - but not in the end

The safari had a change of plan and decided to have a bash at the local Smew which has been hanging around for a few weeks now. So northwards we went into unfamiliar territory, passing and briefly stopping at Birds2blog-land. On the way up we saw the flock of Pink Footed Geese that holds the two 'tundra' Bean Geese. But before we could even think about finding somewhere to stop and scan they went up on masse - a skydiver appeared in the field next to them! IDIOTS!!! At the estuary Frank was in super-sniffing mode and the tide was full so we didn't see too much. A lot of Curlews, Shelducks and a nice sized flock Black Tailed Godwits. Far more unusual was a Kittiwake coming from inland and then flying sort of back inland up river...lost???.
So with not much ado we set off for our target area, and got promptly lost. We took a wrong turning and ended up back where we started but a useful find for later to save going round the demonic one-way system of Lancaster on a Sunday afternoon.
Anyway eventually we found Freeman Pool, where we chatted to some very friendly locals. Birdingwise we had a few hundred Pink Footed Geese on the side of a hill by the path, a smattering of Shovelers on the pool with a couple of Little Grebes and seven Tufted Ducks. A female Goldeneye spent much time underwater, a male Wigeon gave us hope as it seemed to appear from nowhere, but we couldn't find the Smew - it had gone after all those weeks!
We tried moving round to the other vantage point and bumped in to a pair of Long Tailed Tits which refused to stay still enough to be photographed. A little easier to get a pic of was this pellet on the gate post. From which species?
A Little Egret in a small pool behind the hedge successfully avoided the lens.
Back at the estuary via our new found short cut the tide had dropped and birding a bit easier. Greenshank (116) was soon in the bag along with good numbers of Wigeon, Redshanks and a few nice Grey Plovers. No sign of the Spotted Redshanks or the Common Sandpiper unfortunately. Not a great day so far but far from a poor day's birding.
A quick look at the pool revealed two pairs of Mute Swans, a Little Grebe and a few Wigeon.
Off back home now along the lovely named Jeremy Lane. No geese here but at its junction with the more aptly named Moss lane there were about two dozen Whooper Swans. We then called at a farmland feeding station, where the birders were queueing for the top spot like the birds themselves! What a cracking little roadside stop. The hedge was crawling with birds like these Stock Doves and Chaffinch.
"Hello Stockies how are you today?" "Oh hi Mr Chaffinch, fancy seeing you here"
The Woodpigeons appeared by the hundred as if by magic.

Did you spot the Yellowhammer (117) and the Tree Sparrows?
Easier in this pic below - little stunners!!! But what a shame the hedge has been flailed so brutally - alright, tractors and stuff have to get down the narrow track and there is a deep ditch on the otherside but the top of the hedge could have been left a bit rough.
My uncles farm didn't have Yellowhammers but it did have Corn Buntings (118) of which there were three on the hedge. We also had Grey Partridges (119) which in my opinion are one of the most delicately marked birds in the book.

In those 'olden' days there was no such thing as Red Legged Partridge (120) but this one appeared out of the bottom of the hedge walked up the track and promptly disappeared again.Back home the note book showed a farirly successful safari...dips four ticks five...and interweb news confirmed that the Smew had in deed done a bunk...missed it - shoulda gone last week! News today (Monday)...the damn things back...aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhhhh...nightmare.
At home on Patch 1 there was a pair of Sparrowhawks lurking in Magpie Wood, the female was huge. this morning the wood was full of woodpigeons so I'd hazard a guess the Sparrowhawks hadn't put in an appearance today.
Patch 2 was pretty hopeless. more white horses than for a long time and only about 150 Common Scoters to show for a ten minute scan.
Where to next? more Patch work for the rest of the week.
In the meantime let us know what you've dipped in your outback this week.

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