Thursday, 13 January 2011

Our topsy-turvy world

The Safari was out counting the roosting Magpies from ‘behind’ at 06.00 today, we got a rather low count of 34. The reason for the different counting position was that in the dark drizzly conditions they were easier to see their silhouettes against the streetlights from the bottom side of the wood. The counting was warm work this morning, the digital mercury hitting a full 8ºC or as much above ‘normal’ as it was below ‘normal’ a couple of weeks ago! For much of the day Warren’s patch, admittedly down South near the Tropics, was as warm as a nice April day here! But the warmth has brought mist and fog. The park was like something out of a Victorian Jack-the-Ripper movie with swirls of thick mist hanging round the trees and over the grassy areas. A Robin sang up near the road and a Heron winged its way over the trees from the pond like a giant moth in the darkness as we approached.
On the way back to Base Camp the Song Thrush was once again singing with plenty of gusto from the Golden Triangle, the two Robins were singing at each other too.
Absolutely no chance of getting a Patch 2 safari in before work as it was still dark with pea-souper of a thick fog thrown in for good measure.
Mid morning we had a meeting to attend at the northern end of town and on the way back called in at the nature reserve for a quick shuffy. The feeding station was busy, plenty of Blue and Great Tits, a party of Long Tailed Tits, a minimum of 11 Chaffinches, Reed Buntings were coming and going for fun, Robins, Dunnocks, a couple of Moorhens, Woodpigeons and a Collared Dove all came to the feeders or fed on the food scattered on the ground while Blackbirds and Fieldfares were chomping on the remaining apples hanging from the trees. We gave it a good few minutes but the hoped-for Brambling didn’t put in an appearance.
Moving round to the viewing platform we heard a Cetti’s Warbler singing loudly to our left and another away across the water. The gulls were at the wrong angle looking in to the light and we couldn’t get much on the larger ones, plenty of Black Heads, a few Commons but sadly no Mediterranean Gulls. Four drake Goldeneyes graced the water and we roughly counted around 350 Teal. Really we were hoping the Otter(s) might put on a show but there was (predictably) no sign of them. A largish flock of about 500 Pink Footed Geese landed in the far fields but we didn’t have the time to walk all that way nor a scope to go through them properly – it would be just our luck to find someone reporting a ‘tundra’ Bean Goose or Greenland White Fronted Goose, or even the dodgy Red Breasted Goose with them on the Bird Club’s website tonight!
The Rangers met up with us and we all went back to the feeding station, they continued on their rounds and we stayed and watched but there was much less activity than earlier, which didn’t bode well. As we were umming and ahhhing about whether to high tail it back to the office or not another birder came in to the hide. Within a minute of him sitting down he noticed that the Brambling had come on to the feeder on the right hand side – well done that man! This was just the stroke of luck we needed, Brambling (85) in the notebook, and one that can be a little tricky for the Safari so better to knock it off now than hope for one next back end. It didn’t stick around for a pic, no sooner having had a very quick feed it was gone again and didn’t reappear. Two other birders joined us and said they’d had a singing Cetti’s Warbler at the far end of the reserve, making three in all – not bad! Within a few minutes five Tree Sparrows had come on to the feeders and the usual tits were joined briefly by a Coal Tit. That was enough for us; it was time to head back to work. On the walk back to the car a group of Fieldfares suddenly got up out of the nearby trees, looking up we watched two Sparrowhawks, a male and a female flying close together, not quite displaying but good to see a pair out together. As far as we are aware they haven’t nested on the reserve yet but could do soon to add yet another breeding species to the site list.
Back at work we quickly ate our butties and went out in to the thick fog to Patch 2. Not sure why as visibility was down to less than 100 metres, but it just has to be done! We couldn’t see the sea from the sea wall and the gulls on the beach were just ghostly apparitions. Not much chance of pulling anything from amongst them.
Where to next? Gotta be some more wadery things on Patch 2 tomorrow assuming it’s clear enough to see them.
In the meantime let us know how far you can see in your outback.
No pics today – well you wouldn’t want to see the inside of a cloud, would you? Perhaps we should have taken one of the gulls on the beach as seen from the sea wall so you’d have an idea of how bad it actually was!

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Yep, It felt positively balmy yesterday Dave, still warm today, but heavy rain :-(