The Safari went out on to Patch 1 this morning in heavy drizzle driven by a strong but warm southerly wind - quiet unpleasant despite it being mild, although we haven't had much rain recently. Last night we had a Goldcrest singing in the park and today we were determined to count the Robins - four in the park and two more in the Golden Triangle. Single Song Thrushes were singing at each site too and the local Blackbirds continue to be deafening. The Rangers had read somewhere in a national newspaper that Blackbirds had suffered a serious decline - dunno what the full article was about...not flippin Magpies again we hope - but a quick look at the BTO trends figures shows a continuous and statistically significant increase over the last 15 years after a decline from the sixties, so where this journo got his information from is a mystery. A Toad was in more or less the same place as the Hedgehog was yesterday and will be recorded on the new FARG website in due course.
Two Waxwings reappeared in the office grounds yesterday...by good to get them on the Patch before they disappear, if there were nine a few days ago where are the other seven? Can't be far away if the two are part of the same flock. Back at Base Camp a Great Tit was seen carrying nest material in to our House Sparrow terrace - they have nested in there before, as have Blue Tits but we doubt if any House Sparrows have ever even seen it!
Then it was off to the neature reserve for a bit of botanising. The Cowslips are always a welcome sight but we were after different quarry.
Snake's Head Fritillaries are what we were after - OK so they aren't native but they are beginning to put on a good show, there were about 150 open flower spikes today with more to come.
whilst photographing the plants a Willow Warbler (138, 72) sang quietly from the nearby bushes. A couple of hours looking from the southern side of the reserve gave us a nice Little Grebe that would come quite close enough to be snapped unlike these fine drake Shovelers.
It was hard to tell which raptor was most at ease in the strong wind, the stonking male Kestrel hovering over the island attained 7 seconds without moving his wings, some going in the gusty conditions and his head never wavered, or the pair of Buzzards playing swooping and rolling over the fields to the east.
At the Feeding Station we watched a Woodpigeon pretend to be a parrot as it hovered and slithered and contorted into a position where it could reach the food.
Once it had eaten all it could reach it swapped to the other table and did the whole performance again. This time showing his versitility by doing it the 'other way round'.
A female Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived for a few moments allowing us to rattle off a few pics of which this one was by far the best as the pesky thing wouldn't keep still.
Where to next? Might be gone a for a while.
In the meantime let us know what's snaffling all the scram in your outback