Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Where there’s a wind there’s a way

The safari’s late night jaunt looking for Newts was ill-fated. The wind was freezing. Before it went dark enough to go newting we headed over the nature reserve to see if we couldn’t steal a march on Monika as we are both on 147 species for the year: We both have the same target of ‘expected’ and ‘hoped for’ to attain by 31st December - it’s neck and neck, nip and tuck etc etc…Our visit to the reserve didn’t produce any of the following, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, House Martin or Barn Owl all of which had been reported in the last couple of days or so…oh we could have crept into an good lead with that lot. The cold north-easterly wind kept most things quiet and skulking. A Cetti’s Warbler was the exception, certainly skulking in the middle of a Blackthorn thicket but far from quiet!
Around 250 to 300 Swallows and Sand Martins hawked low over the water but no sign of the House Martins which the rangers had seen over the mere earlier in the day. A Shelduck came in from the fields to the east and settled on the water – really bonny birds these and never numerous visitors to the reserve. A good few years ago a pair attempted to nest under the rocks of the ornamental waterfall and pool in the Tiger enclosure at the nearby zoo…they were unsuccessful – let’s just say they didn’t reach the egg laying stage of the reproductive season.
As dusk fell we set off to look at the ponds. With torches burning a shaft of light through the surface we peered in to the depths, nothing moving at all in the first pond, nor the second. This cold snap seems to have sent everything back to the bottom. The third pond was the one we had had reports of good populations of newts in recently so when the beams from our lamps hit the water we had high expectations…nothing obvious…a thorough search gave us two lethargic Frogs, we had been beaten by the weather!
This morning’s Patch 1 walk was dominated by Willow Warblers, three singing and quite a lot of non-calling flitting about. A very loud Song Thrush sang from the Golden Triangle easily beating the Blackcap in the volume stakes. Once again we saw the male Sparrowhawk, this time in hunting mode weaving between the trees at speed about half an inch off the ground. Our Coal Tit wasn’t heard today, gone? But there were three Great Tits singing away. Again the Long Tailed Tits were heard being busy in their Bramble thicket. We spent a few minutes listening for yesterday’s Garden Warbler but heard nothing.
Patch 2 before work was as cold and windy as yesterday but worth the suffering. No new species but a nice selection in the twenty minutes we were able to spend out there, would have been half an hour but it takes a good five minutes to walk down to where we can cross the works. Red Throated Divers were moving, two then two more then a single all going north straight into the wind. In fact everything we saw was going that way. Several unidentified Auks went past in the distance, of those close enough to identify we had four Razorbills and a single Guillemot, oh what would we give for Puffin and a Black Guillemot; both are rare visitors to this stretch of coast. A male Common Scoter broke the rules by flying west out to sea. Six Eiders, five males and a female continued the northward march just over the distant tide line. A Great Crested Grebe was found bobbing about in the chop. Way out in the haze we saw two tiny white dots, they plunged like Gannets but were obviously terns, too far away in the haze to identify, three more followed, then another two and a single…possibly Arctic Terns, will have to see if PM has had any moving in the Bay off Heysham; they must be due soon!
Lunchtime…hmmm, the wind had dropped but so had the birds. All that walk for a Sandwich Tern and two Cormorants! Useless!
No midnight safari tonight as Wifey is back from her business trip to London - the Big Cheese in the Big washing, cooking, cleaning to be done!!!
Where to next? Still looking forward to finding something on both Patches as always.
In the meantime let us know how cold the wind was in your outback today.


Monika said...

Haha, love the poll! Save those results for the end of the year....

cliff said...

So there I was yesterday evening, sat eating my tea & flicking through the Gazette & who's face did I see staring back at me but yours.
Do you do autographs Dave??

That's good numbers of Swallows & Martins you got there Dave, I'm only seeing them in ones & twos. I keep looking skywards for the swifts returning - how much longer will it be before we start seeing them?