Monday, 12 July 2010

Memories are made of this

The Safari was out early doors on Patch 1. Nothing much to report other than the Sparrowhawks are obviously still knockin around as these bits of plucked Woodpigeon show only too clearly.

No booze was drinked during the WCF last night that's why we were able to get at with a '5' on the clock (just). We had tipped England to be beaten by Holland in that match. Nuff said. But we're really glad that football playing Spain beat the 'kick the legs (and other body parts) from under yer' Dutch. Only criticism of the Spanish was that when they were fouled they did tend to roll around with a bit too much gusto, bunch of drama queens! Perhaps there should be a time limit on the time taken to take the free kick and the guy that was fouled has to take it - that'd get em up quicker unless of course they were stretchered off in which case they'd have to be substituted. Ohh jeee gonna have to write to FIFA now with loadsa 'good' footy ideas. The players just ain't as tough as they used to be. Years and years and years ago my dad played a match against a touring side from Nigeria (their national side?) at half time my dad's team had to ask the ref to ask the Nigerians if they would wear boots in the second half as their feet were too hard and that in the days when boots were boots not the modern softy dancing slippers with studs! Footy rant over at least until 'Pool get duff decisions from Howard Webb - poor guy did well under torrid conditions - hope he's as lenient at Bloomfield Road on his days up here this coming season. Then there's the Euros in two years time - can Capello help us win that, will he still be in charge???

After brekkie we had a trip up north to a favoured wetland. Not been for ages as Frank isn't allowed anywhere near the place. But today we had no Frank and we were looking forward to a great safari. Doh...two coachloads of school children; now we've nothing against educating kids in the ways of the wilds indeed we do plenty of it ourselves including writing this rubbish in the hope that one or maybe two children read it and become enthused enough about the natural world to want to put their Nintendo down for five minutes and get outside and start looking and seeing. BUT do they have to be there on our only visit for months? Then we discovered a gaggle of volunteers were painting the hides including the exterior on the 'wrong' side - again this has to be done otherwise they'll rot away in the damp conditions but did it have to be done today?

Not to worry still plenty to see we hoped and lolloped off to quieter parts of the reserve. On route we saw a small stretch of these orchids, Northern Marsh Orchid? This one was a huge fella best part of 30 inches tall so perhaps a hybrid of some sort, flower spike alone was over six inches tall.

Note the long nectar tube bottom left - does that help with the ID? We were after a couple of year ticks as Monika has drawn well ahead in our 'race' and is probably uncatchable after her epic trip to Alaska - but we've gotta try to catch up and being out and about is good therapy for the injured hand.
Marsh Harriers are a site speciality and this male popped up just about in range of a heavy crop. We had another male with prey that did a food pass to a female, two other females came to meet him at the same time so we had the wonderful sight of four in the air together. Not long after that a third male appeared on the far side of the reserve did a little hunting then spiral up over the reedbed Buzzard like to some considerable height - magic stuff in the cool drizzle. The males have to be one of the best coloured/patterned birds of prey in the book.
Whilst we were hoping our close male would reappear a female Red Deer walked out of the reedbed and started feeding on the reed that had recently been cut. A four pointer male, still in velvet, stayed just inside the reed edge and wouldn't show himself for a photo - he was feeding on the very tips of the taller uncut reeds.
Same pic heavier crop.
Not a great lot about at this time of year - all the 'best of the rest stuff' began with G - Greenshank, Great Black Backed Gull and Great Crested Grebe. Sadly none of the possible three year ticks on offer, one should have been easy and we almost definitely would have got it if we had been able to stay a couple of hours longer, the other two would have been tricky but still possible. just have to go again won't we!
We have always had an affinity with this site not just because it so good for mammals, birds, plants, butterflies, dragonflies etc etc etc but around 40 years ago me and my mate were taken there for the first time, on the train by his big brother - it took forever to get there (still does! - takes 3 trains and twice the time as driving for about the same cost as the Land Rover); anyway sitting in one of the hides got us wondering just how many 1000s of butties we've eaten in those hides over the years, slept in most of them too. The site also holds the distinction of being just about our earliest memory of seeing a new life bird outside of the garden - Long Tailed Tit on that trip in c.1970/1 - and the tree it was in is still there today, well we think it's the same tree.
Wonder if any of those schoolies being shown round this morning will have any memories of their visit in 40 years time - hope so! Although we have to say most of them didn't seem to be that enthralled by being inside a reedbed - each to their own we suppose. AND they were lucky - for some reason the Cleggs weren't out and looking for blood. Reed Warblers musta ate them all.
Where to next? South of the river tomorrow possibly.
In the meantime let us know which habitat has enthralled you in your outback over the years.


Amila Kanchana said...

Lovely! By the way, care for a nice close up video of a tropical butterfly? 

Monika said...

Great stuff - I love the story of your first visits to this site. Hopefully it will be quieter for your next visit!

I've actually been watching a bit of the World Cup and while I went in rooting for the Dutch I have to admit I switched allegiances after all those fouls! I've never been a fan of dirty play - not a fan of diving either, but it's better than the former.