Saturday, 6 November 2010

On top of the world? Nah - higher

The Safari asks if anyone watched the Shark Bay dolphin programme the other day? If so in the bit at the end when they showed how it was filmed you will have seen the underwater panning camera boom wot our mate Down Under made - nice piece of kit Glenny Boy. And here is our pic of one of those Shark Bay dolphins from our visit in 2001.
In the meantime back to the UK. On a mild and sunny afternoon we decided not to Waxwing it but to stay close to Base Camp and just go to the nature reserve. The plan was to stay until dark and get the Starling roost and if possible the 150+ Long Tailed Tit roost too.
As we started off a Skylark called as it went overhead. A shot rang out from the fields behind us as two Pink Footed Geese changed their minds about landing. More shooters were seen in field we know they are not allowed to shoot in, it's a shame they were just out of range of the camera as we not too keen on armed trespass! A Buzzard wheeled high over the wood in the near distance.
More nuisance fireworks had three of the five Goldeneyes leaving the site. from the hide we heard the first of three male Cetti's Warblers fire up a blast of song.
Moving round we found a male Sparrowhawk secreted in the depths off a Willow tree. Whilst We were watching this last week's dodgy Common Gull went past but we couldn't disentangle the camera from the bins, scope, tripod, dog lead etc in time. It has a very very white wingtip with only a little black. A Water Rail screamed from the reeds close by and the second Cetti's Warbler of the afternoon.
Going further on we met up with MMG at the feeding Station once again. The Tree Sparrows are still there and chat started to be of nest boxes and breeding next season - are we getting ahead of ourselves? A male Great Spotted Woodpecker gave stonking views perched ACROSS a small low branch on one of bushes near the feeder. A Coal Tit dashing in and out several times. By now the light had collapsed so photography was just about pointless.
A lovely Fieldfare also avoided the lens, this time disturbed by oncoming dog walkers after we had tucked ourselves out of sight and got all the straps disentangled. MMG went back the way we had come as we went on to see if we could find the Long Eared Owls. Half way to the area they are usually seen we got a call from MMG saying he'd just seen a Bittern! Doh...but you can't see everything...and we didn't see the Long Eared Owls either! A Song Thrush feeding on over ripe plums was a welcome addition to the day list.
The choice was now to continue the full round or do the 'figure-of-eight' thing. We did the latter and made our way to the Container Hide and sat for a while but little was happening. Another Cetti's Warbler (possibly the same as the first one we heard) fired up as did a another Water Rail and a Sparrowhawk passed so close to the hide window we could have plucked it.
Then the worst happened, a gaggle of stoned chavs arrived, what a noisy shower of useless waste of space sh*tes - population reduction should start soon. Two of them said they were off but a minute later appeared below our elbow, they'd climbed the fence and gone round the front of the hide...'didn't know we weren't supposed to do that mate'. Then we got the jitters thinking these guys often carry knives and don't particularly like being told off and called plonkers. Fortunately they cleared off, from the phone call there was some more drugs to be had somewhere not too far away. We let them get out of the way and moved round to the Viewing Platform. Scanning for the Bittern didn't reveal it but a Sparrowhawk wazzed across the top of the reeds and flushed three Snipe, one of which it had a good go at trying to catch. Then looking for the bittern again we noticed a wake in the water which was moving forwards without anything obvious making it. A head appeared - YES YES and DOUBLE YES - the freakin OTTER put a short display of swimming skills - PURE JOY. To say we were chuffed would be the understatement of the year!!! He looks a big boy too rather than one of this year's youngsters, but we could be wrong.
So there we were only a mile or do from some of the most deprived areas in the UK and all the razzmatazz of the Promenade and its mega busy Illuminations watching an Otter, 200 metres away from a Bittern, with a couple of Long Eared Owls sat a little further away, and a Cetti's Warbler giving it rice in our right ear, waiting for the spectacle to afternoon gave way to dusk the Starlings began to doesn't get much better than this.
Like we said...on top of the world...
That was taken many years ago when we were a lot younger fitter and don't say!!!
The Starlings built up to something like round 7 - 10 thousand but they mostly spent their time at the far end. A breakaway flock came our way.
No Attenboroughesque commentary today - he was on last night and there really is no competition so we'll doff our cap and stand aside for the great man.

Then the rain started so we swiftly made our way back to the Land Rover, parked at the far corner of the reserve. Passing the roosting Starlings the small and noise were overpowering, Frank was intrigued and needed some holding back otherwise he'd have charged in to the reeds to find out what all the commotion was.

A great day! On top of the world.

Where to next? Not sure, normal Sunday routine is kiboshed by Wifey not having to take 'eh-yup muvver' to the shops so a family day somewhere is on the cards.

In the meantime let us know if you're on top of the world and if so why.


Craig said...

Hi Dave, delighted you saw the otter.
Great birds too, certainly a memorable day for you.

best wishes,

cliff said...

Judging by that toned, muscular physique I'd say - yep - it's definitely a dolphin ;-)

Congrats on the otter Dave - I was there for a few hours yesterday morning but no such luck for me, although I spent most of my time facing away from the mere watching the numerous redwings feeding on the glut of hawthorn berries.

Your videos are just the reminder needed to get down there for the starling roost, what a great spectacle.

Shame about the chavs though, one of the hazards of it being an urban reserve I suppose.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Cliff the otter seems to be unpredictable at the mo, being seen at 11.00, 15.45 and 08.30 today (Sunday). Best viewed from West Planting hide looking across to tthe lone apple tree laden with green apples, or from the Viewing Platform, looking along th reed edge, but stay well back in cover.
Good luck with the Satling videos trust they'll be better tan me paltry efforts'
Craig - certainly was a great day!


Anonymous said...

Glad you finally got see the Otter, Dave. Great stuff.

Top of the world for me too. Whoopers yesterday and this morning, my first Waxwing of the year :-)

Stu said...

Some great birds there, Cettis Warbler was ung¥heard of up north when I started birding!

And otters too.........

Phil said...

i just had an awful nightmarish vision. Wasn't sure if it was the thought of 150 lottis or the sight of that male model. Good to get the otter though.

Monika said...

Yahooooooo!!!!! on the otter. Not once but twice now even! Awesome stuff.

Soooo jealous you've seen the Shark Bay dolphins...