Saturday, 30 April 2011

A right royal day out

The Safari headed north to meet up with the King of Fun and chums. On the way we stopped at the old quarry where Peregrines nornally nest. We saw one flying around the cliff face, our second of the day as the Patch 1 one was on the tower again at 06.00 (the Lesser Whitethroat was there too this morning). This year Ravens have also nested in the quarry and predated the Peregrine's eggs. We watched as an adult Raven came back with some food and the youngsters were very well behaved each taking their turn without fighting - we could see right down the bright red gapes - impressive birds. At one point the Peregrine buzzed the nest as if to say "I'm still here you know!!!" It was then mobbed by a few Jackdaws, one of which it took a dislike too and gave a lesson in terror - swinging above it and stooping repeatedly as the Jackdaw tumbled out of the way, an impressive display of aerobatic skills from both birds.

On the drive to our rendezvous a crackin male Bullfinch flew acroos the road and landing in a bush in full view, the first we have actually seen this year.

Given that the sun was warming up we decided to check out a local reptile site. After turning a few stones we found not reptiles but amphibians.

Along with the Toad, Frogs and Smooth Newts, male with spotty tail in pic above, there were a couple that just didn't look quite right. A bit of gentle newt-wrangling later and we think this is a Palmate Newt on the basis of the plain un-spotted flesh pink chin - if anyone would like to confirm or refute this ID please chip in.

Insects were good here to with Broad Bodied and 4-spotted Chaser dragonflies wheeling around over Common Blue, Blue Tailed, Azure and Small Red Damselfies. On of our safari members got onto an Early Thorn moth. Our favourite were the Bee Flies though.

Without finding any reptiles we moved on to another site where Wood Ants were known to be present. after the heat of the quarry the coolness of the wods was a welcome change. Not much was moving but a Buzzard responded to whistles coming overhead at treetop height. The area has been fenced to keep deer out to help with the revegetation of the understory but here a Badger run hass had to be made, how did we know it was Badgers? Hawk-eyed AB found a guard hair stuck to the soil - well he was the only one of us who'd brought their glasses!

A few inverts were on the move with probably Dingy Skipper seen a couple of times but not nailed, and the ubiquitous Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks were numerous. A bright 'butterfly' caught the eye and was followed until it settled.

Not a butterfly but a day-flying Speckled Yellow moth - certainly brighter than a Dingy Skipper butterfly.

Best find here was this Herb Paris with a smaller specimen nearby - this a rare plant in these parts and one the safari has only been shown before so this 'self-found' was worth the trip. it has to have the most bizarre flower of any UK native plant.

We couln't work out what had happened to the Wood Ants as disappointingly no mounds were seen, there used to be several colonies here and surely with the recent warm weather they'd be active by now. So it was on to join the masses of royal-avoiders at the main nature reserve; there were plenty more who had the same idea as us, in fact we don't think any of us had ever seen the reserve so busy!!! Standing room only on some of the trails!

No Bearded Tits (aka Bearded Reedlings or Reeded Beardlings to those with a sense of fun) were seen and they were never going to be heard above the racket the nesting Black Headed Gulls make...Good nest boxes they have though. A Marsh Tit (166) was seen at the Feeding station, as we hoped it would be, in fact it was the first bird to come in to feed as we watched and took its sunny seed right above AB who took some stonking pics only to find his camera was saying it had no memory card - double ARRRRRGGGGHHHH.

On route to the hides we passed people with lenses as long as your arm photographing a Reed Warbler singing from a bush in the reed bed just off the path (aka Sedge Warbler) - that seemed to be theme of the day people with all the gear; his n hers matching Swazzas and a Canon/Nikon my lens is longer than yours convention but most didn't seem to know what they were looking at half the time - buy a Field Guide guys and then study it...What did AB say? "Collins now do a simple two pager....arse and elbow!!!" A bit of field craft wouldn't go amiss from many of them either - or maybe we were just being a bit elitist, they were enjoying being out looking at the birds whichever one they thought they were looking at at the time doesn't seem to have bothered them - no wonder the sightings book here is a bit thin no-one dares to comit to admiting to what they have seen.

Best bug of the reserve was this Icneumeon Wasp on the hand rail at one the hides.

Most birders would have said that this Osprey (167) was best bird of the day. It certainly put on a good show and at one stage we had it and two Marsh Harriers in the bins together with another distant raptor gliding through (another Osprey?) This was a relief as earlier we'd missed it by five minutes driving from the quarry to the woods.

Most birders were sooo wrong - this 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull was easily bird of the day, even pipping the pair of Garganeys and Whooper Swan seen later.

Avocets are recentish colonists to this part of the world and only 20 years or so ago if you'd have said they would be breeding in these parts before long you'd have got some very funny looks!

We reckoned that the Lesser Whitethroat away rattling from the depths of the hedgerow behind the hide was a proper birders bird. Too subtely beautiful for the dudes around us, if they could ever get to see it or ID it on call.After the joy that was the birding masses we went back to the reptile quarry to see if the sun had brought any out on the side that was shaded earlier. AB thought he heard a Cuckoo but if he did it didn't call again. Three Common Lizards were found but nothing 'more spectacular'.Certainly nothing as spectacular as this Broad Bodied Chaser,
Well that was a brief description of a crackin laugh-a-minute day out - who says this wildlife safari-ing is serious stuff and can't be fun, not all the fun was at other pepoles expense we hasten to add. Enjoy it, get your IDs right, record it, protect it! And don't let the govermint desroy the Wildlife and Countryside Act - Britain's wildlife and its habitats need more protection from lunatic development schemes not less!!! the number of people out today shows how much it is appreciated and valued and is far more important than the shenenegans of a family whose ancestors once had a bigger stick, a more brutal followers and a bit more luck than someone else's family...and we're still paying the price for that...or at least or Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, White Tailed Eagles etc are.

Where to next? Back to reality with a bump, the bump could be the head landing in a basket after that treasonable outburst!!!

In the meantime let us know what the bird of the day ought to have been in your outback.


Anonymous said...

great day Davo - we ARE grumpy old birders!!!
Paul and Daph enjoyed it too - bird of the day? LESSER WHITETHROAT matey - no contest!

checked photo, with you on palmate - pink unspotty throat - RESULT!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Grumpy but chuckling all the way to the hides! (and in em...ssshhhhh!!!)
Just stuck an edit in about the lesser throat - knocks the osprtey in to at least fouth place but it ain't number one - not in my bins anyway.

Looks really good for palmate - good find but where both are present there have been hybrids - ohhh noooo????????

Be down at Moore soon let us know when the lesser peckers are feeding young or are they at it already - in which case see you next week.

Anonymous said...

Looks & sounds like a great day was had, Dave. Brill stuff.

Amila said...

Hi Davo,Great see a nice variety of interesting creatures!

Warren Baker said...

Great post today dave - and the best bit was the last - I wish I could rant so eloquently :-)

PS Converter is being looked into :-)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Palmate newt confirmed and in a new tetrad too.

Ash said...

male golden eagle only one in britain getting mobbed by 2 ravens then having 2 crackin male pied flycatchers GET IN!!!!!!


cliff said...

A cracking read that Dave, what an action packed day out. Love the BBC & Icneumeon Wasp photos, the Med Gull's a bobby dazzler too.I was up that way myself on saturday,(slightly further north of where you went) saw quite a few 4 Spotted Chasers but no BBC's, plenty of Damsels (I think you've made a typo on your Red), 100's of Green Hairstreaks & a Slow-worm.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Very diplomatic Cliff re the red. Id'd by one of the 'southerners' in our midst, who may well be familar with SRD. More than likely to have been LRD.