Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Will it ever happen again?

The safari certainly hopes so! So what is IT? Yesterday we heard the strangest news…a White Tailed Eagle had been seen over an RSPB reserve towards the top end of Safariland on Saturday, then it emerged that a Golden Eagle had been seen in a raptor hotspot several miles to the south yesterday. This is almost definitely going to be the first time in at least 200 years that the two eagle species have been in the county in the same week, if not on the same day...where they? Not only that it’ll be the first time in many thousands of years, if EVER, that the two eagles have shared the county with Eagle Owls, as the latter species is only recently colonised and the jury is out on whether it has ever been a British native in the past…during the last interglacial maybe…not long after the last ice retreat maybe…in the last 1000 years almost definitely not. The safari agrees with the Hawk and Owl Trust that the species is, or at least has been, a British native in the past and that at least some of the recent colonisation and subsequent range expansion is down to invasion from the increasing NW European population. We are not happy about the levels of persecution (of all species of raptor) from our upland ‘farmers’. That is a national disgrace and puts some of our countrymen on a par with the Maltese bird murderers. Please note that not all Maltese people are trigger happy murdering hunters with precious little in the way of ID skills; there are some folk out there doing sterling work for little reward desperately trying to improve the situation.
Also never thought we’d visit three sites in a weekend in the NW and get singing Cetti’s at two of them, particularly when the site that didn’t have them appeared to be the best habitat for them.
Back to more normal things. Patch 1 last night had 21 Magpies fast asleep in Magpie Wood. This morning was a frosty start but a Blackcap was flitting around the Golden Triangle but not singing.

Not much happening in the park although a Coal Tit (WT 73) singing away was new in. Otherwise it was Dunnocks and Wrens as thee main protagonists. A Heron was in the pond as per usual and two others flew over. Walking up the hill we spied a female Blackbird sat on the edge of the path. As we approached it didn’t do anything just hunkered down on its haunches. Frank went passed and it kept an eye on him other than that it did nothing. We got the camera out a gently ‘snuck’ up on it – still no movement so there has got to have been something wrong with it. Got a shot off and noticed the camera was on the wrong setting.

As we were fiddling with the buttons Frank came along and sniffed its butt – the camera was ready but it was a sniff too much and off it flew in to the undergrowth – very ragged wings and most of its tail feathers were missing. In the bramble thicket a pair of Long Tailed Tits looked like they were prospecting for a nest site and a male Blackbird carried a beakful of worms, breakfast for a hungry brood.

Sunrise was a crisp and clear affair. The eagle passed up the valley behind the hill where the sun is coming up, could almost have scoped it from here before it diasppeared behind the mountains.
Back at the Golden Triangle something upset three Greenfinches which started to fly round – they were joined briefly by a Lesser Redpoll (WT 74) – grief they’re small compared to Greenies. The Greenies settled back down in the Golden Triangle while the Redpoll continued its northbound journey. The Blackthorn was lookin goooood
What was panning out to be a zero or morning had a reprieve when a Sparrowhawk was seen in the distance as we arrived back at Base Camp.
Patch 2 had a Dunnock knocking seven shades out of its reflection in the windows. Out at sea the gulls were still having a go at the fish shoals. Although there were fewer flocks of them sat on the water two of the flocks contained several hundred gulls. As we were picking out the small number of Kittiwakes now present a couple of Meadow Pipits and an ‘alba’ wagtail went over, the wagtail sounded as if it came ‘in-off’. Some of the Kittiwakes were diving for fish like terns do and when successful the gulls instantly started to chase them in the manner of clumsy Skuas. Two Gannets soared around but must have been totally unimpressed by the size of the fish as they didn’t do any diving. Three Razorbills were seen along with a few other more distant auks. Common Scoters are still out there on the horizon.
By lunchtime a nasty cold northerly breeze had risen, the fish must have dropped to the depths as the gulls had vanished; in fact everything had vanished save for a solitary Guillemot.
Patch 2 this evening the Golden Triangle had the three Greenfinches still bickering and the Long Tailed Tits were flitting around the Hawthorn bush. A big female Sparrowhawk pushed northwards at height against the wind.
We have had word from Jeff Clarke that our fly that dances on the Water Lily leaves is a ‘Long-legged fly’, Poecilobothrus nobilitatus. Many thanks Jeff. If you google the name you'll see the critter, certainly better pics than we can manage.
Where to next? More Patchwork but we're not too happy with this northerly.
In the meantime let us know whuich way the wind is blowing in your outback


Warren Baker said...

Bring on the Eagles! Thats what I say.

This northerly wind isn't helping me find those migrant species Dave :-(

Anonymous said...

I`m not happy either, with these N/NE`erlies. They`re no good to man nor beast.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Too right Dean - bally cold as well this morning and looking at the forecast no decent weather until after the weekend at least.

Chin up