Sunday, 8 May 2011

There...and back...

The Safari had a wander down to Patch 1 this morning to find two birders already staking out the joint but without any success. We all had a look in the usual places and after half an hour one of the lads heard a subdued but somewhat 'normal' Chiffchaff singing from the start of the old Hawthorn hedgerow, while a louder much more obviously normal Chiffchaff sang in the Butterfly Zone. Even with three of us surrounding the bushes it didn't give itself up easily eventaully being seen briefly and inconclusively although the only mark noticed was a very pale lower mandible. It flitted into its favourite bushes and then across to where the other Chiffchaff was singing which promptly went quiet. We now had two Chiffchaffs in one tree but which was which and could we find them? Then one broke cover flying low dwn in a song flight with its body puffed right up especially its rump, which showed a noticably greenish tinge contrasting quite strongly with the rest of the back and wings, the face was well marked, with a sort of Wood Warbler-ish look about it. Its song was Chiffchaff like although perhaps had a few too few chaffs compared to the number of chiffs. We're pretty sure it was the Iberian Chiffchaff but wouldn't swear 100% to it. Once it had disappeared into the foliage we set off to have a look at the tern colony in the next town, but as we walked off a Swift was seen overhead - and not before time! (58). A fledgling Greenfinch was good to see too.

At the dock, the same site as the recent Iceland Gull, tyres have been placed by the Bird Club on the pontoons to provide safe nest sites for the Common Terns (174). Our best count was 27 as they came and went all the while we were there. Also noted were a large number of Lesser Black Backed Gulls, easily outnumbering the Herring and Black Headed Gulls. A lone Great Black Backed Gull was lurking on the pontoons, hence the need for the tyres to give the tern chicks a modicum of shelter and safety.

One of the Lesser Black Backs was Darvik ringed with a maroon ring but without the scope it was just a bit too far to read, maybe we should have tried digi-binning it.

No chance!

After weathering a few rain storms we decided to head back to the nature reserve where there was a chance thet in the weather and SE winds a Black Tern or two might have dropped the time we got there if they had they'd gone. We did note a pair of Oystercatchers and a few Lapwings, others were sitting on replacement clutches in the adjacent fields after their first set of eggs had been ploughed in - this happens every flippin year! A House Martin hawked insects with several Swallows and a couple of Swifts while a drake Shoveler slept on the scrape.
We heard two Lesser Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers appear to back in decent numbers at last with some seen performing their display flights.

As the sun came out and it warmed up considerably insects appeared. Three Common Blue butterflies were seen at the Bee Orchid 'lawn' and from the nearby hide we had our first reserve dragonfly of the summer, probably a 4-Spotted Chaser but just a little too far away to be clinched, Broad Bodied Chasers are still quite scarce here being unknown just 10 years ago.

The wind swung round to much more south westerly and with the bright sunshine the chance of any Black Terns was now zilch. As we pondered what to do, go further round or head back our mind was made up for us when a text came through from AB letting us know that two Temminck's Stints and two Curlew Sandpipers had been found not far from where we had been watching the Common terns - dohh coulda saved a whole heap of fuel had we known a little earlier but there was nothing to be done but to twitch them.

Approching the Land Rover we noticed this Nostoc 'growing' on a concrete pad - for some bizarre reason it is one of our favourite organisms.

Off we went back down the raod we hade just travelled and as we turned into the lane there was a fair crowd already stood watching the stars of the show, the Temminck's Stints (175). We were offered a look through MMcG's scope and saw them disappear out of view into a little bay. The Curlew Sandpipers were not seen as they had flown off or to a more distant part of the site after a torrential shower. The stints were an excellent bonus year bird, we sort of half expected to come across Little Stints sooner or later but Temminck's was never ever in the frame. The only time we've been near one in the Fylde was a bad dip as one landed at the nature reserve, when we were warden, but we had just left to attend a meeting which if we remember rightly was cancelled when we got there....dooohhhh - and something very similar happened with our huge Montague's Harrier dip!!!

Other nice stuff there were a good number of Shelducks, several fine and dandy summer plumaged Black Tailed Godwits, a few Lapwings and Redshanks and a Common Sandpiper.

With still an hour of safari time left we went for a final look for the Iberian Chiffchaff, which hopefully would be singing its proper song now the sun had returned. One birder was wandering around a bit aimlessly and hadn't had much. We went over to the favoured patch of scrub by the playground and found this lovely Dunnock sitting up enjoying the sunshine, or drying off! They have fledged a brood here in the last day or so.

On the way back out we heard and saw another Chiffchaff - at first its face looked like the Iberian's and it seems to have a pale bill but when we got a good look at the legs they were fully black rather than the warm brown of the Ibe's.

Where to next? With a bit of west in the wind Patch 2 might throw something our way this week.

In the meantime let us know who came acalling unexpectedly in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Dave - a couple of questions - where at the Mere is the Bee Orchid Lawn? & are the Terns at Preston Docks in range for photos or is it a case of waiting for them to fly into range?

Nice Common Blue photo, looks great on the header too, I'm still waiting for my 1st 2011 common Blue sighting.