The safari remembers 'Spot the Ball' competitions in the newspapers - do they still have that these days?
Well here's a pic of a field with the bird removed - put your X where you think it should be.
We made an early start to get this certain target species. Arriving on site it was glorious - wall to wall early morning sunshine, no wind and a bookful of birds. The warblers were soon rattled off; Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all hit the notebook before we'd locked the Land Rover.
A short walk across the fields gave us Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. In the distance a Grasshopper Warbler reeled - we CAN still hear them! We found a good spot tucked in against the hedge and waited. A couple of Swallows licked past working the hedgerow and a Stock Dove was a bit of a surprise, its irridescent neck patch shone brilliantly in the low sunlight.
After a while a commotion struck up from the field behind the hedge. A pair of Lapwings and an Oystercatcher were giving a Fox a whole heap of grief as he trotted through the hay crop. A young Pheasant poked its head out of the grass to see what the fuss was about - unfortunately it wasn't a Grey Partridge which have sadly become very scarce at this site now. A big buck Rabbit did a good impersonation of a Brown Hare, these are now consigned to the history books; we can't think of a single record here in the last 10 years at least...we could be wrong...hopefully.
With no sign of our intended victim we decided to have a shuffy from the nearby hide. On the way we had an overflying Chaffinch, several Reed Buntings and a singing Lesser Whitethroat. As we approached the hide we were almost deafened bya Cetti's Warbler...they make Wrens sound quiet! From the hide we had excellent views of Reed Warblers and another Cetti's Warbler (female?) worked its way through the edge of the reedbed while the male let the decibels rip from the scrub behind us.
Out on the scrape we had eclipsing Gadwall and Teal. Two Cormorants sat on the increasingly dry mud with a Heron. Around them a few Coot and a Moorhen made themselves busy.
On the way back to the Land Rover we stopped again in the field but our quarry was still not showing itself. A passing pristine Small Tortoiseshell was worth getting a close look at.
Back at Base Camp as we put the key in the door the phone rang...we learned we'd just dipped TWO of our intended species...doh...unlucky or what? Apparently they'd moved from the fields onto the nature reserve and were only 200 yards from us when we were sat in the hide but obviously we couldn't see them from there. Soooo disappointing and only three mornings left before hospital knocks safari-ing on the head for at least a couple of weeks, maybe as much as a month.
Still it was an absoolutely spanking morning to be out on safari, our intended would have been the icing on the cake!
Once a nice cuppa and a bacon butty had been downed it was time to get to grips with Base Camp's moth trap...OMG it looks pretty full!!!
Where to next? Invert, inverts,inverts!
In the meantime let us know if you had an early start in your outback