The Safari had a cold but good day out safari-ing. Our first stop by the river gave us a female Pied Flycatcher (162) and a Raven 'pruk'ing over head.Waiting across the river from the nest hole we soon saw the male. A walk over the bridge and up the hill didn't give us the wanted Redstart. After half an hour without luck we decide to have a look somewhere else. Bumping in to the rough car park we watched a Dipper which was walking off the dtones and in to the shallow water, we could see it's back sticking up above the ripples. Up it popped with a beakful of grubs and off it flew to feed its brood..lovely. A pair of Grey Wagtails were doing the same. Worst of the worst happened here, whilst chomping on a dollop of wifey's delicious homemade quiche we dipped a Treecreeper...doh.
Off up the hill we toddled looking up in to the new trees. A striking Siskin fed amongst the Larch cones and a beautiful Redpoll with a flame red head was seen in the understorey. The best was yet to come, at the top gate a bird flitted out of the young trees landed on the path and flitted back up again. We were sure we'd seen a flash of red on the back but it didn't immediately reappear. After a few nail-biting minutes it did the same thing again, this time twice...a female Redstart (163).
Following the wood round we heard but couldn't find a Green Woodpecker. Something on the fence line caught our eye...a male Wheatear, our Extreme Photographer, Raf, queried this as he was looking at a female. In the end we discovered there were six altogether. (Wait 'til you see his pics from his recent Land Rover trip to exotic places).
Standing there on the hill it was freezing and we thought a shower might turn to sleet or snow - it was that cold! But our spirits were warmed by the sound of one or more Red Grouse (164)cackling away on the opposite hillside. Then our Extreme Photographer caught sight of a small bird high in the canopy...the male Redstart...what a Bobby Dazzler! Not seen one for ages and this little chap was pure joy for a few short minutes.
A Buzzard soared around the tree-tops calling its plaintive meewing call, while Curlews tried to muster some enthusiasm for their bubbling song.
Oystercatchers and Lapwings were also nesting on the hills, but where are the Redshanks and Snipe?
We'd had enough of the cold and moved downhill a few miles to a woodland riverine site where we had another Dipper and a superb, but only a single, warble from a Garden Warbler. Unfortunately no Kingfisher at this site, which are often seen here. There were an excellent selection of wild flowers to see before the horrendously invasive Himalayan Balsam grows much taller.
This one is Wood Sorrel.And this is one of the Stitchworts.
One the river there was a bit of a Mayfly hatch going on and the Trout were having a field day leaping clear out of the water at times. But wait! What's that entering the water over on the far bank? No not an Otter but a lump of wood that looked remarkably like one!
On the other side of the road the woods continue. We weren't going to have a stroll on that side but Frank dragged us to see some other dogs. now we were there it would be rude not to have a look. Not a great lot but we did get another Garden Warbler. In the river we watched a pair of Dippers feeding a well grown youngster, don't think we've ever seen so many in one day. A little further up the river the motorway crosses the river and under the bridge is where the Dippers like to nest despite the 24/7 racket from the traffic.
Plants flowering around the trail included Bird Cherry in the gloom. And this rosette of Common Spotted Orchid, of which there were many.
No time for the Ring Ouzels and disappointingly no Whinchats but all in all a good day's safari-ing.
Where to next? Wonder what'll be on the patches this week.
In the meantime let us know how cold it was in your outback today.