The Safari got out and about for a few hours today. First stop was in the neighbouring town at a crackin little, or not so little, brownfield site harbours a Willow Tit. As we drew up and parked the Land Rover three birders were coming up the track towards us. We asked them if they'd seen it - no they hadn't...One of them was the local lad, Tony, who had just refilled the feeder and he accompanied us to the patch of bushes the feeder, singular, is located in. We waited a few minutes - nothing, then he left and fortuitously a minuter or so later the Willow Tit (192) appeared as if by magic. Here's a pic of THE feeder, the bird was just too quick for us even with the camera set to 1000 frames a second!Elsewhere around the site we had a Skylark fly over and a Woodcock. A Jay made some shrieking noises at Frank while a Song Thrush narrowly avoided the lens. Another wait at the feeder gave us a female Bullfinch and the Willow Tit again. The bird is blinged with a ring and the silver wing panel showed really well, didn't hear it do the sneezy little call though.
As we were leaving we had a flock of 15 Redwings briefly land in the top of a tall tree before quickly moving off to the south. The site is, we believe, ear-marked for development, what a shame - it should be developed in to a super little nature reserve. Looks really good for Long Eared Owls too and a moth trap in the warmer months could be fun.Next we cut across town to the river, and site of a brilliant 'new' wetland reserve which is under construction, or at least the A bird we dipped earlier in the year up north. The river had great big chunks off ice floating down it - some about a foot thick! But no sign of the Smew, although we did get a few Fieldfares, three Mallards and a male Goldeneye flying upstream.
Then it was back up the motorway to 'our' nature reserve. Once again we had a Skylark go over. The fields to the east held a huge number of Pink Footed Geese, but were the Tundra Bean Geese and White Fronted Geese, seen here-abouts recently, with them? We left the with a chap who had come over from the place we don't mention by name on the South-side to show him the Long Eared Owls, on the way the geese were seen in the distance but were then disturbed, WOW what a sight several thousand in the air - the sound of their calls was awesome. On the electricity wires was a flock of about 250 Linnets, didn't get a chance to count them properly and a Kestrel overhead was the first raptor of the day. Three Stock Doves landed on the wooded pylon near the Linnets.
Yet again the Long Eared Owls, three of them today, managed to stay too well hidden to be able to get a decent pic.
Around the rest of the reserve we had five Tree Sparrows at the Feeding Station with a very bright Great Spotted Woodpecker, one of at least three. On the water/ice there was no sign of the recent Ring Necked Duck, dunno how long it has been missing but there were two male Goldeneyes, 65 Wigeon, 18 Shoveler and about 500 Teal. A lengthy trawl through the gulls revealed nothing over-exciting, not even a ringed bird. Eventually most of them flushed and left the site when a Buzzard came in and landed close to the patch of open water - gereat to see these large raptors on the site, they were just about unheard of 20 years ago when we started working there.
Two minor downers - we missed a Bittern by a few minutes and we didn't see or even hear any Water Rails, perhaps we should have gone round to the hide on the far side. we did hear a Cetti's Warbler calling briefly though.
A really nice day out.
A really nice day out.
Where to next? We have a pass out again tomorrow so another stab at the Smew will be on the cards.
In the meantime let us know what's sitting on the ice floes in your outback.