Saturday, 12 March 2011

A safari to the big smoke

The Safari apologises for the lack of pics in this post...for some reason the laptop has decided not to read that particular SD card.
Wifey had a bit of specialist book shopping to do in the big smoke, so to make the journey worthwhile we decided to tag along and sort out the insurance for the Land Rover on the way in to town and then get dropped off at a nearby prime birding location for an hour.
We first went to the tiny feeding station, a single hanging feeder and a bit of broken plank on the floor but sadly it was empty...the chances of getting our target bird instantly plummeted, nothing for it but to have a mooch round to see what's about and perhaps flukily drop on it.
First bird in the bins was a female Brambling sat alone in an isolated tree on the side of the track, OK, good start! Within a minute it flew off over the tree tops and away but as it flew we noticed another bird in the bushy tree tops opposite, Lesser Redpoll (124), things are looking up! That too disappeared within a minute of getting on it. We wandered further round the site noting a pair of fighting male Blackbirds, a Blue Tit, a distant view of a Jay and ubiquitous Woodpigeons. The birds were mostly quiet but several Dunnocks were singing here and there from the scrub. A few robins were heard too, then from the depths of a Blackthorn thicket emanated the soft peeuu of a Bullfinch (125), things are looking increasingly up!
A pair of Goldfinches looked like they were prospecting for a nest site hoping not to attract the attention of the local Magpies and a Song Thrush shot across the path in front of us. A Wren rattled his trilling song from the depths of the dense scrub.
A water-filled rut along the track had a huge mass of Frog spawn, the first we've seen this season...little did we know more was to come a little later.
Frank's crashing around near a pool flushed a pair of Mallards while we looked for any signs of Great Crested Newts but there were few oieces of rubbish ltying around that may have acted as refugia.
Our first and only Chaffinch, a male, flew over.......break in service...Italy have just beatten France at the rugby for the first time ever - - couldn't happen to a better nation!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After that nerve-racking excitement its back to our first Great Tit of the day. Getting back round to the feeding station area Frank started barking and ran ahead to greet TR who had just arrived and put a load of food out. Great Tits, Blue Tits and a pair of Dunnnocks appeared as if by magic...they must have been hanging around waiting for the food to arrive. Wifey rang to say she was on her way to pick us up so we only had a few minutes left on site.
A hint of low movement had us peering in to a patch of dead Brambles, the Willow Tit (126) excellent stuff, told you things were looking up, just in the nick of time though. within seconds it was on the plank and off with a tasty morsel. Twice more it appeared giving us great views - we didn't get any pics as it is dark under the canopy at the feeder and we were stood a fair way off so as not to disturb the birds as they came to feed.
Whilst waiting for Wifey to arrive we noticed a small pond at the entrance to the old folks home so we just had to have a quick look - glad we did 24 Frogs and a whole heap of spawn, more still in the 'process of manufacture'.
All in all an excellent hour's safari.
Back at Base Camp we filled both feeders to the brim with sunny hearts and black sunnys as a few people have been reporting Siskins dropping on their feeders - bet it won't happen here!
Where to next? Got another bird survey of the North Blackpool Pond Trail early tomorrow followed by a local safari, nature reserve perhaps, we'll see what the weather's doing but wherever we end up we'll be back to watch England stuff the Scots in the rugby.
In the meantime let us know what was worth looking up fotr in your outback.

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