Monday, 7 March 2011

A herald to herald spring?

The Safari forgot to mention that while thinning out the shrubs at the edge of the mere yesterday young Ashley disturbed a Herald which landed on yours truly and was then manhandled by Ash but in the process of getting the camera ready it livened up and was gone in a flash landing inaccessibly on A's mum before disappearing muttering something like 'I had another two weeks in bed you *&&**&^*s!' Despite the lack of pic it was our first moth of the year and we hope to be getting the trap at Base Camp out much more frequently this season - - weather permitting??? While we are on the subject of yesterday whose rather natty little butty-bag is this?
And here are a couple of rubbishy distant pics of the Ring Necked Duck from yesterday evening.

From this heavy crop you should be able to tell it's not a Tufted Duck - just.
One of the three Herons present yestday evening.
This morning the Herald would have been right to stay tucked up in its hidey-hole as it was very frosty on Patch 1. Even the Blackbirds were quiet. Few birds were in song most of the noise coming from some of the Robins and Wrens and then almost invariably calls rather than song.
The Magpies had left Magpie Wood, soon to be renamed Woodpigeon Wood as 19 were still up in the tree tops with a pair of Carrion Crows which were huddled together away from the Woodies.
With a full morning's birding ahead of us we headed northwards over the river to year-bird city. we hadd eight target birds. But how did we do?
At our first port of call we passed a birder with scope already set up on the roadside and another getting out of his car a little further on...things looked hopeful. The first birder soon found a Barnacle Goose (118) in the large flock of Pink Footed Geese. Birder number two picked out one then a second White Fronted Goose but as he gave directions and we got the scope on them they took flight and we only got a brief going-away bins look at them. Mnay thanks to both of them, It was now the Safari's turn to repay the favours and find either of the pale or dark bellied Brent Geese that have been in this flock recently...well they weren't there this morning...shucks..a dip, and with diesel now spotted at £6.50 a gallon ($9.50/US gallon!) we can't afford too many of those! Maybe we should have had a look over the sea wall at the marsh but the tide was still well out and time was pushing on.
Our next stop was a few miles further north and was instantly productive as the tide was on the rise filling the creeks. Within minutes of walking down the old railway line along the edge of the marsh we found a Greenshank (119)amongst numerous Redshanks. Scanning along the water's edge a small bird caught our eye, the over-wintering Common Sandpiper (120), there will be no problem finding this species more locally in the next few weeks or so but this bird is special as it has over-wintered here for three years now. Lots common saltmarsh birds were about, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shelducks, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Grey Plover, a large raft of Goldeneye on the far side of the river and Meadow Pipits and Skylarks over the nearby marsh - all in blistering spring sunshine - a joy to be out with bins in hand. A walk around the creeks gave us not one but two Spotted Redshanks (121) one of which we tried to sneak up on for a pic but as we were getting close a truck pulled up in the adjacent lay-by and it flushed; got this pic instead...not quite what we were after. We bumped in to PW , always good to stop and have a chat with a fellow blogger, who suggested we look at a couple of other sites in the vicinity. One was his favourite Little Owl shed but it wasn't playing out, three Whooper Swans were in the adjacent field with a couple of dozen Mutes.
With time pressing we headed back south daring not to stop at the goose flock, although it did look as though there werre more birds than earlier...maybe we should have...anyway we ddin't but high-tailed it to the mossland feeding station for some farmland birds. Unlike last time we were here there was plenty of food today and the birds were taking full advantage.
Nine Tree Sparrows, three Yellowhammers, numerous Chaffinches, a Great Tit taking wheat off the floor, a Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Moorhen too. Although the two we really wanted didn't show. Then another car pulled up and a chap from Yorkshire asked if he was in the right place for the feeding station. As he was chatting two Corn Buntings (122) came and landed on the top of the hedge...sorted but no Red Legged Partridges. CR had photographed a day-flying Barn Owl near here recently but we didn't have time to back track, we were already late!
So how did we do on our target list? Dipped three but got two 'extras'...we'll just have to go back to mop up the missing ones at a later date and have another fine day out on safari north of the river.
Back home we picked up Frank from Wifey's work - yes he goes to work where he lies down alot and tries to avouid doing the filing, typing and other officey jobs with his chums Oscar and Lucy, more dogs than people in that office!
So we took him around Patch 1 in daylight! You can see why we can't really get a proper look at the local gull roost, the white dots on the roof above the left hand house, don't really fancy setting up the scope and peering straight over someone's bedroom window...just doesn't seem right somehow!
Although the gulls do sometimes drop on to the field and are a bit nearer.
A heavy crop reveals it to be a 'normal' Herring Gull, as no doubt at this time of year they all will be, except for the Lesser Black Backs of course, but in winter...hmmmm who knows what gets mixed up with them.
Frank has a penchant for falling out of bed before he gets up in the morning - silly dog and what's with the one eye open and one eye shut thing?
Maybe he's been having nightmares abuot his nemesis - Blue...who was out and waiting this arvo...
This is a Frank's eye view as he's looking down from the top of his wall.
And then we run the gauntlet of the gate...

It looks really fiece and the snarls are bloodcurdling but its all harmless banter...Frank looks for him every time we pass with eager anticipation of a snarling barking match and is disappointed if the little fella isn't out.

Where to next? Back to the Patches and back to winter if the forecast is anything to go by.

In the meantime let us know what's doing the snarling in your outback.


Neil Spiers said...

Nice post Dave and that reminds me that this year I WILL attempt a homemade moth trap!!

Monika said...

Good birding day Dave - you're closing the gap!

$9.50 a gallon...yikes! Folks here are complaining that it's hit $4.20/gallon.

That Blue does look pretty fierce in that snarling photo!

cliff said...

Dave, the Barn Owl was out mid afternoon yesterday (09/03) too. My brother's over from France so I took him, amongst other places, to see it & sure enough there it was, sat out in broad daylight. Flew off before we could get any photos this time though.