The Safari hit the hill at the start of our early morning Patch 1 walk to the tuneful warbling of a Blackcap. Once at the Golden Triangle we could still hear it but by now a Willow Warbler had joined in...all very summery on a mild morning with the glowing red orb of the sun just lifting over the hills on tthe horizon.
A small clump of Cuckoo Flower was a nice find on the small field, poound to a penny it's mown before the weekend!
The Butterfly Zone yielded Chiffchaff and Blackcap but no Whitethroat or Lesser Whitethroat yet. It's about this the time we expect (= hope for) a decent (= more unusual) migrant in the park, maybe a Pied or Spotted Flycatcher or a Redstart or such like and today was the day! Not one of those but a Grasshopper Warbler, a great patch lifer! (Patch 1's all time total is now 74 and this year stands at 48). If anything we would have expected this species to turn up in the rough field, but no it was singing from the bushes behind the tumbledown shelter at the top of the park. Doesn't matter where it was we like it - we'll take it; as they say!!!
On the way back down the hill we watched a skein of 23 Pink Footed Geese travelling northwards. They were a bit far off and quite bunched when we saw them and we guessed at two dozen but a phone call from the Rangers later confirmed there were 23 of them as they had passed over the nature reserve a few minutes before we spotted them.
Sticking with the goose theme on the drive to work two Canada Geese were going against the traffic up one of the main roads in the middle of town at chimney height.
Patch 2 was a bit of a damp squib being very hazy and giving us nothing more than a Great Crested Grebe, must be a Billy-no-mates one to be sat on the sea in full summer plumage at this time of year.
It was a short day at work today and we were joined by two of the young up and coming birders to nip off to look at the 10m tide at the marshes. Geeee it was hot and almost breezeless. The heat haze was horrid and looking into the bright sun made birding awkward. We picked up pipit after pipit as the tide rose but all were Meadow Pipits, the hoped for summer plumaged Water Pipits not showing, probably cos they have already left, could have done with this high tide a couple of weeks earlier.
A first year male Wheatear was the best of the passerines. Overhead one of our youngsters picked out four Buzzards that were stupidly high, youngsters obviously have good eyesight!!! A Sparrowhawk joined them and all five birds circled in the thermal together.
Out on the marshes we could only find one Little Egret among the other shimmering white blobs that were Mute Swans and Shelducks.
Along the embankment there was a plethora of butterflies with several Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and a few Whites sp as well as a couple of Commas and a spankingly bright male Orange Tip that was partolling up and down.
PE joined us briefly and picked out a flock of Curlew/Whimbrel in the haze infested distance, we walked to a closer vantage point to confirm they were 28 Curlews apart from one which was a Black Tailed Godwit. He also mentioned a couple of other goodies at a site not too far away so after the tide started to drop and no Water Pipits were seen we took his advice and headed off there.
As we arrived the youngsters set up the scope and instantly got on to the male Garganey...swines we were just parking the Land Rover on the verge out of the way of passing juggernauts. Before we had stopped the car it had swum round a little headland into a side creek...dagggnabbit!!! (or words to that effect).
Nothing to do but wait and hope it swam out again. A few Redshanks were eventually joined by one of the Ruff (151) present on site. Also seen were a nice selection of winter ducks, Mallard, including a brood of 10 chicks, Teal, Wigeon and a few pairs of Shoveler. Lapwings abounded and the field held a few Curlews too. In the bush nearby a fine male Reed Bunting played at being a flycatcher with the midges that were dancing over the dyke.
A. found another Buzzard proving his eyesight is second to none and a Skylark sang from aloft in the azure blue sky; waiting was turning into a hot game of patience, the bonnet of the Land Rover was almost too hot to touch having been stood facing the sun for an hour. A couple of Brown Hares were seen out on the pasture.
Eventually the Garganey (152) emerged from where it had been hiding and swam out in to the middle of the pool giving great views if a little distant before going to ground again.
That was it - tick and run...time for home.
Where to next? Another surprise safari for you tomorrow and hopefully some pics as our quarry is smaller and ought to be a bit nearer certainly within range of the lens assuming it/they put in an appearance.
In the meantime let us know what's shimmering in the haze in your outback.