The Safari had a full Patch 1 walk in the dark this morning. The Peregrine wasn't there today but counting in 'fives' we got our highest ever number of Magpies at Magpie Wood - 80 ish. On the way back we heard a Mistle Thrush singing from the school grounds.
Back at Base Camp the garden produced a good bird, two fly-over Jackdaws. Then another good garden bird, a Grey Wagtail - don't know if it was down on the pond or a fly-over but it briefly landed on next door's roof.
An errand to get a new windscreen wiper for Wifey's car resulted in us getting House Sparrow,which if we hadn't have needed to go to the motor spares shop would have meant we'd somewhat bizarrely have got Tree Sparrow before House Sparrow.
Looking out of the bedroom window at Base Camp we had another Jackdaw! and a flock of 21 Fieldfares.
Then it was out to the nature reserve for a full afternoon session.
A comprehensive count of the waterfowl gave us 110 Wigeon (109 and then later one came in from a great height), 547 Teal, three male and a female Gadwall, 39 Shoveler, 24 Tufted Ducks, 15 Pochards, 77 Coot (no colour ringed birds noticed although many were diving in the water) and two Whooper Swans, one on the frozen mere and one down the dyke which at dusk walked over the embankment and across the ice to join its chum - we don't think they are particularly fit and healthy and either or both of them could end up as lunch for the lurking Buzzard.
The gulls were disappointing with just a third winter Great Black Back breaking the monotony.
At the feeding Station there had been reports of Brambling and Siskin but try as we might we didn't see either. We did see a real site rarity, this Grey Squirrel, as weird as it may sound we have had more sightings of Otter than Grey Squirrel at the reserve over the last 20 years!!!Six Tree Sparrows were counted but once again we didn't see the ringed one - so are all these the same ones as first turned up?
A wander round the back to see the Long Eared Owls was next on the cards. We met up with a lad who'd seen seven earlier but now could only find six. The pair of us scanned and searched and looked again and eventually yours truly found the seventh...just a wing tip showing behind one of the others and some dense twigs. In the scrubby areas Blackbirds were uber-numerous, not sure how many we saw but it could have been getting up for triple figures, several Fieldfares but only two Redwings all day. Out in the fields we could only find about 50 Linnets this arvo was a good many less than a few days ago, later we found a few more of the missing 200 but nothing like last weeks flock. Only one Stock Dove was seen in the field too.
On our return to the hide the gulls had flown off which was annoying. however, a Cetti's Warbler sang and was answered immediately by another to our left. We struggled with Wrens and Water Rails but had two of each within minutes of each other as the gloom got deeper. A little later we got stonking views of a Water Rail down to about 10 feet (3m). but better was to come; a small posse had gathered on the embankment - think East Bank at Cley but (slightly) warmer - they were wainting for a Bittern to show nd as we had a few miniutes left before it was time to head home we decided to join them and boy are we glad we did. When we met up with them MMcG told us the Little Owl was on its usual place on the barn roof - we say usual as we haven't seen it there for about 10 years and not even heard of any reports of it for at least half that...great spot and many thanks. If that beat the Water Rail it was about to be blown out of the water...a Bittern flew half the length of the mere then flushed a second - they ended up having a 'dog-fight' over the frozen mere right in front of us - spectacular! Once they had broken off the engagement the first one came back towards us landed on the ice at the edge of the reeds and pointed skywards for a few minutes before skulking into the reeds...safari-ing doesn't get much better than that!
So after Day Two where are we? Well, Year - 52; Garden - 15; Patch 1 - 20; nature reserve - 45 and Patch 2 - 0 (no visit until Tuesday). we did hear of pods of 10 and five Harbour Porpoises offshore this morning so lets hope they stick around.
Where to next? With those numbers off Cetaceans about Chat Alley could come in to play tomorrow and/or a trip to the farmland feeding stations over the river perhaps.
In the meantime let us know what's skulking in your outback.