The Safari is really really grateful for Bank Holidays and modern technology this morning, woulda really been soooo frustrated if today was a work day!!!
Breaking news from SE's blog last night was that a first for Lancashire had turned up at Fleetwood Nature Park, a Short Toed Lark which we didn't read about until it had gone dark - so would it have cleared off by this morning? (S, we thought you didn't twitch :)...)
A few txts later and we learned that the boys were off with MJ to see it it was still there after all. But in the meantime we'd had a txt from CR that a Whinchat was at the nature reserve, much nearer and that is a serious consideration on a Bank Holiday Monday with blistering sunshine.
With no news from the boys we assumed the Short Toed Lark had moved on and we were chatting to CR within quarter of an hour whilst enjoying views of a stonkingly bright male Whinchat (159) - a bit of a relief as we didn't see one last year nor the year before. Around us were three reeling Grasshopper Warblers, a number of fresh-in Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats dancing out of every bush and a couple of very dapper male Reed Buntings - what a fine and beautiful morning.
A wander down to the viewing platform gave us a pair of Long Tailed Tits foraging right above our heads. A Kestrel soared over the mere and while have a look at that we picked up our first Swift (160) of the year very high up and it didn't stay long. Hopefully they'll be checking out our Swift nest box soon.
Moving round to the Feeding Station we bumped into an old friend and had a chat while several Orange Tips flew around us, twenty years ago we'd have stood there spellbound as this would have been an astonishing sight but now it's a case of 'oh look a few Orange Tips that's nice' - they have gone through the roof in the last few years.
With nothing doing other than three Dunnocks wing raising at the Feeding Station and Frank still shattered from yesterday and getting hot we decided to call it a day and head back to Base Camp to cool him off and get a brew ourselves. Rounding the corner we saw a posse of birders grilling the Whinchat including the boys, so had they seen the lark or not...yes!!! so it was still there after all - no brew for us or rest for Frank - we pointed the Land Rover at the nearest traffic jam and went nowhere fast! A silly detour around the jam and plethora of road-works got us lost in a housing estate we never ever want to see again and lost us more time than we probably would have lost had we just sat impatiently in the queue! Where do all these slow idiots come from and why don't they just stay at home - don't they know there's birds to be twitched?
Was it still there? Phewww - yes it was, Short Toed Lark (161) an unbelievably good bonus bird for our Year List Challenge with Monika. Possibly the most nondescript bird we've seen since the last one we saw too many years ago. Took loads of long range pics but this was the only 'presentable' one, can you see any of the ID features - we can't!!!
All around was an exaltation of Skylarks singing in the azure blue sky. then from the river came the call of a passing Whimbrel (162). with Frank totally zonked by now it was time to head back to Base Camp, after a short but successful morning's twitching.
Before we set off though we spotted a large patch of Wild Pansies that were worth getting closer too and far more important in the local scheme of things than the lost lark.
A shed load of gulls were bathing on the pool on the way back to the car park. many were Lesser Black Backs and it would be rude not to have checked through them for a white-winger...there wasn't.
Where to next? Back to the patches and who knows what might turn up there - after all the Short Toed Lark was found by a lad on his local patch.
In the meantime let us know what rarities wind's brought to your outback.