Sunday, 31 October 2010

Another crackin day out

The Safari had an afternoon visit to the nature reserve close to Base Camp after yesterday's far flung adventure. One day we'll forego the Sunday morning bacon, mushroom and brown sauce butty and get out earlier in the day...or perhaps we won't!
Spoke to the wardens by phone as we arrived and was told of a strange call coming from the reeds adjacent to where we had parked...we heard it too...twice...a it like a slow Little Grebe trill...dunno, no idea, never heard anything like it before and didn't hear it again during the afternoon...a Cetti's Warbler singing an unusual secondary song? 14 Pink Footed Geese went over and two Whooper Swans also headed south east. A Jay flew north, not a commonly seen species here. The wardens also told us that the Starling roost was somwher in the region of a whopping 25,000 birds.
Nearby a Robin did a great impression of a Red Breasted Flycatcher launching itself out of a Willow after flies fairly successfully.
Moving round to the hide it was very peaceful with the splooshing and splashing of the gulls bathing along with the quiet pleeping of the Teal.

At first it appeared fairly quiet with just the usual ducks and a few gulls to grill but we soon found some better stuff. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over from the north while we thought a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull flew past but we didn't get a decent view of it before it went round the corner and out of sight when a small male Sparrowhawk shuffled the gulls around. Then we saw bird of the day, an unusual gull...a Common Gull with a huge amount of white in the wing tip, more like a well marked 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull or a more typical pale wing-tipped argentatus Herring Gull. Very unusual but we didn't get a good look at the rest of it as it disappeared behind us - would it come back.

11 Redwings and a single Fieldfare passed over at the opposite end while a Cetti's Warbler gave excellent views but sadly too brief. Had it stayed still it would have been in the circle.

Two Whooper Swans dropped in, very likely the ones we had seen earlier. The west end Mute Swans were quickly on the scene.
Two Whooper Swans with a proper bird!

We quickly made our way to the next hide to get less obstructed views. Really like these winter wanderers. A second Cetti's Warbler was heard here.

There's something a bit more 'special' about them than the normal Mute Swans...could be their atmospheric calls.
We watched as the two pairs of Mute Swans homed in on them to drive them off, the Mutes are just too territorial for just two Whoopers to be able to roost over night, need to wait till later in the winter when upto 50 might come to roost - the Mutes can't deal with that many!

We left the Whoopers to their fate and went to see if the Tree Sparrows were still on site. On route we watched a Migrant Hawker dragonfly catch a couple of midges.
There were four Tree Sparrows on the bird table, excellent news, really pleased they're still around. Other species around were the ubiquitous Blue Tits
And Great Tits.

A Coal Tit nipped in and out, always in a hurry there are.
Unfortunately some numb-skull let of a nuisance firewirk close by and everything flushed from the feeders. Still it gave us the opportunity to go and see how the Whoopers were getting on. On the way back 75 Pink Footed Geese went over and a female Sparrowhawk looked as though it was dead set on getting settled into a decent hidey-hole before the Starlings come in to roost.
The Whoopers had indeed been driven off. We heard another Cetti's Warbler then saw a different one zip across a gap in the reeds, possibly the one we had heard earlier, now we're up to three, at least six were reported from the reserve today. We saw the unphotographed Cetti's Warbler again but this time it was far to quick for us.
Moving back to the first hide we had a Redshank fly in, two weeks running - WOW.
Watching it we spotted four Wigeon tucked under an overhanging bank. A Water Rail called from close to the edge of the nearby reedbed but didn't come out for a photo opportunity.
The gulls went up en-masse - something had put the fear of God into them. One of the ladies in the hide pointed - there it is - a Short Eared Owl was the cause of the panic! Brilliant stuff.
The resultant confusion had really shuffled the gulls around. We didn't see it fly in so don't know if this is the same Common Gull as earlier but it was right on the extreme limit of variation for that species, unless it was a hybrid or even a 2nd generation back-cross, certainly very different to the other 'normal' ones close by. sadly they wereall moving around a bit and this was the only shot we got that was any good - damn that flying thing! How annoying is that! Didn't see the arrowed one in flight or bathing so couldn't say what colour its legs and feet were.
Here's a typical one for comparison - note the extent of white in the wing tip, and slimy greeeen bill with just yellow at the tip - the oddball one's bill was that yellow all the way to the face. The dark eye is a noted feature of Common Gulls, ours was certainly a lot paler and even through bins we could make out the difference between the iris and pupil but it was nowhere near the paleness of Ring Billed Gull, nor was the mantle pale enough.
The rangers popped in to the hide asking if anyone needed a new pair of shrews. Poor taste, sorry, two deceased Common Shrews. Probably got caught out in last night's rain and succumbed to hypothermia.
The 1st winter Mediterrean Gull did a fly-past confirming that we almost definitely had seen it earlier.
At the end of the day we watched three Grey Wagtails fly in.
One thing we did note was that there were quite a few people about enjoying the wildlife on offer - and there was some great stuff to be seen too - sadly we were one of the youngest and there were very few families out on a perfect autumn afternoon. Not cold or windy with loads to see. Shame the families weren't there taking advantage of what was on FREE offer.
Where to next? After seeing tonight' News we've decided we're going to become a Druid!
In the meantime let us know what's on special offer in your outback.


Monika said...

Great stuff Dave - You're a regular Attenborough in that video clip too!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Very glad to hear you know of the great man Sir David, Monika, and extremely flattered to have been compared to him.



Anonymous said...

You can`t beat "proper" wild swans & geese, Dave. There`s just something about them that gets the heart pounding.

Warren Baker said...

Cracking day out indeed Dave ! I always hope for a Short Eared Owl :-)

Those fireworks are a bloody nuisance, i'll be glad when its all over for another year .