Sunday, 6 February 2011

Still very wet and windy

The Safari wasn't hopeful of getting out today as the weather was mostly atrocious. Early morning on Patch 1 the Peregrines were very vocal and we counted 38 Magpies which just shows how the light can affect a count. Last night we could only see 22 and thought that the rest had gone to roost somewhere more sheltered. However the morning count, which was quite late and some had already left the roost, showed that probably the full compliment of over 50 spent the night being swung around in the wind and battered by torrential rain; at least the Peregrines choose the side out of the wind and are protected from the elements to a large extent sat huddled tight against their artificial cliff.
After a substantial sausage sarny there was a break in the weather and we chance a trip out to the big park, not our usual Patch 1 park. We stopped on the way to have a quick look on the wild-side of the road and saw that the Snowdrops were out at last.

The wind was howling and bits were falling off the trees, the paths were littered with twigs and small branches that had come down over the last couple of days, so we decided to head in to the park where the trees are not so big and not so directly overhead.

A look at the lake where families were throwing bread at the ducks gave us the opportunity to get some Coot colour ring sightings and take a few art shots of the family of Mute Swans.

This male is doing the bubbling/gurgling call.Shame we chopped the top of his head off.
Tried to get some pics of the youngsters but they were too interested in the bread and would keep still enough; hardly anyone seems to take pics of the 'ugly ducklings'.
Further on away from the mayhem we found a small flock of 17 Shovelers. Most were cruising around in the middle of the lake but this one was asleep close to the bank.

There are always a few Mallards scattered about.

In the wooded area we met up with one of the Rangers and while we were chatting a Nuthatch (105) appeared in the tree above our heads and started to investigate a potential nest cavity. We couldn't find any Treecreepers or Goldcrests but we don't think we've every seen as any Great Tits as this winter, they must have a had a superb breeding season last year - dunno if the ringers can back this up with hard evidence? A good flock of Goldfinches was in the vicinity of the feeders high up in an Alder tree taking advantage of the seeds still left in the cones.
You can't fail to miss the Heron's nests at this time of year. The adults are now back on them fettling them up after any winter damage.

The wind was in the wrong direction so you've got technically awful going away shots and apologies to the easily offended for this gratuitous bum pic.
We were glad to get back across the road to the quiter area as its really awkward to hold the bins or take some photos when holding on to dag that really wants to a) dive in the lake, b) pee on every tree, (thousands) and clump of grass (how much pee can one dog hold - must be gallons of the stuff in tehre!) and c) sniff every other dogs' backside of which there were millions out despite the decidely iffy weather.
The gardens border the Zoo which was formerly an airport and was defended by several pill boxes of which only this one now remains.
I don't think we would have been brave enough to stay in there with a little Enfield 303 if the Panzer divisions had been landing on the nearby beaches.

Behind the pill box is a small pond through which the little stream flows. It is full of Sticklebacks and sometimes attracts a Kingfisher...not today as there was far too much doggy disturbance, or is it an Otter - could do with some mammal ticks not had many this year. There was however a white Aylesbury type duck which wasn't over bothered about sharing the pond with the giant Otter.
Throughout the wood there are some nice pieces of simple but effective wildlife interpretation.

Back near the exit we found this dead tree sprouting several good sized Birch Polypore fungi but as you can see the light was dreadful.

It started to lash it down and we were a fair distance from the Land Rover so we had to do one, the bins are waterproof but the camera isn't. We were hoping to be able to show you the impressive artwork at the main entrance - maybe next time. By the time we reached the Land Rover we were absolutely sodden so it was back home to Base Camp to fire up Little Bertha and await the 'pleasant aroma' of towel dried dog baking in front of the fire...pheeeeeuuuueee

Where to next? Here's hoping that Patch 2 has a gull or two tomorrow - we didn't gat a chance to watch the dropping tide today more's the pity.

In the meantime let us know what's being protected in your outback - probably not Hen Harriers or Golden/Sea Eagles!!!


Warren Baker said...

A brave attempt at a bit of a safari, in horrible conditions Dave. Keep at it mate :-)

Amila Kanchana said...

Love that swan!

cliff said...

Nice to see the Herons are back in residence at the park, I had the missus on heron watch as we drove by on Sunday, but she said there were none at the nests - how on earth did she miss them??