The Safari had a late start this morning but a reasonable excuse. The moth trap did indeed get its 2010 debut last night, and after a traipse around Patch 1 the contents had to scrutinised.
Patch 1 wasn't too bad, high enough to be above the distant thick mist and mild. We saw the Fox there last night for the first time in ages. A Blackcap and three Willow Warblers seem to have stuck on the Patch as does the Coal Tit which was singing away like billy-oh again. towards the end of the walk we disturbed the male Sparrowhawk having his breakfast but there wasn't much left to identify the victim.
Another fine sunrise today.
Back at Base Camp after a very tasty bacon and mushroom butty the moth trap was emptied - not that that took long, a grand total of just two Clouded Drabs and five Hebrew Characters! Worker Common Wasps were seen at Base Camp for the first time this year this morning too.
Our safari this morning took us a few miles east to look for Slow Worms. A tiny population and a very long shot but conditions were good, warming up but not too sunny so basking was going to be likely. A pile of slabs by the track looked a good place to try. no luck but plenty of yearling Smooth Newts an adult and some Toads . Lots of inverts hiding under there as well. There is a tidy colony of Sand Martins, two Little Ringed Plovers flew over. A Jay called from the nearby wooded gardens. We also had a singing Goldcrest there along with Blackcap, Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff. Our raptor score keeping ended Kestrels 2: Buzzards 2.
As the sun came out the butterflies started to become active with good numbers of Small Tortoiseshells and a few Peacocks. A lethargic queen Wasp sp was found sheltering, with a couple of dead ones that hadn't survived the winter, under the bark of a fallen tree. queen Red Tailed, White Tailed and Buff Tailed Bumble Bees were also active. We found our first Tawny Backed Bee too.
A pair of Reed Buntings graced a small pond, where we also found a couple of Toads and a Frog and a few Sticklebacks sped around the pool. Walking around the area we were accompanied by the constant bang of shotguns at the local clay shoot - at one stage we were peppered with clay bits and dust shot from them.
Unfortunately no Slow Worms...
Our second site was a bit of derelict old site on the edge of town. Not a great lot there but lods of Jays. Great stuff our Extreme Photographer found a Bee Fly, like the ground beetle the other day there are no records of this species in our area on the National Biodiversity Network. That doesn't mean to say they aren't here it's just that no-one has added the records to the national database.
time to head back west and see if anything new had turned up at the nature reserve. Oh goody it had. Arriving at the hide one of the regulars told us he may have seen a Caspian Gull yesterday and was awaiting some confirmation. Too good an opportunity to pass over with lots of large white headed gulls on the scrape to grill. The bird he saw wasn't present but our first Common Sandpiper (143) of the year was and right close to the hide on the mud the local Bird Club had recently had scraped up. Two Swallows then four flew straight through, we also had a small flock of five Sand Martins.
Checking through the gulls we found the 1st winter Mediterranean Gull again, which sat conveniently with a Common Gull and Black Headed Gull on the plank in front of the hide.
still a nice selection of waterfowl with two pairs of Teal, a pair of Shovelers and another male, a lone male Gadwall along with three pairs of Great Crested Grebes. Four Oystercathers flew round noisily. Talking of noisy we didn't go round the far side to get the freshly in Whitethroats and Grasshopper Warbler...too much gulling to do. In the end we had to leave before the Caspo? reappeared - if it did in the end.
The sunshine again brought out several Small Tortoiseshells, which are definitely having a better year than of late, and some Peacocks, no other species yet though.
Where to next? Patches, patches, patches and possibly an evening trip to the moors for Ring Ouzels and Redstarts amongst others...that would be a boon.
In the meantime let us know how you got on today in your outback, did your dodgy gull turn up?
Just before we go we'll tell you that checking our year's records we discovered that we have somehow neglected Canada Goose from the list...weird or what...(144). Anyone seen any of those other ferals, Ruddy Ducks, lately.
Sorry lack of laptop means no pics today, should be able to do em tomorrow.