Thursday, 14 July 2011

The early bird...was nearly too early

The Safari once again had nothing of note bird-wise on Patch 1 which is not unexpected at this time of year. Yesterday a Black Headed Gull was on the ground in the park which is probably the first we’ve seen down on the grass in there and more patches of Collared Dove feathers indicate the continuing presence of the Sparrowhawks.
In the Butterfly Zone there were five Meadow Browns clinging half way up a Timothy stem waiting for the sun to warmer them, nearby were a couple of Small Skippers and another Meadow Brown wings open in anticipation of the firsts rays coming over the trees on the opposite side of the track.
On the way to work we decided to have a change of route and take in a country lane near the nature reserve which has a bit of a pool in a low lying hollow that has been hosting a year bird these last couple of days.
So we pulled the Land Rover on to the verge wound down the window and peered down the hand-held scope. Not a lot! Just a Coot and a Moorhen! We scanned the small patch of mud at the far end – nothing, and the over hanging rushes on the right hand side – nothing. All the while a Skylark sang from the field beyond the flood – a superb sound to start the day with.
Further scanning gave us two almost hidden Mallards and a sleeping Teal.
A hint of movement had us looking at a wader which had appeared from under the rushes – not the one we wanted but a Snipe, not seen many of those at all this year and we’re really struggling to remember when we last heard one drumming...not that they do that at this time of year.
Another couple of scans round the margins were unproductive, we were moments off turning the key in the ignition when we heard a/the Green Sandpiper call, lifting the scope to our eye there it was on the ‘large’ patch of mud at the back right of the flood as large (= small) as life! (191 – the countdown has begun...9 needed to reach our target; 24 weeks/5 ½ months left). It must have just dropped in from somewhere – nature reserve area? Happy we set off to get some fuel for the Land Rover and found the price of diesel was 2p a litre less than last week...even happier (ish...cos it’s still a small fortune!!!)
Coming over the hill towards work we could see that the sea was almost mirror calm and went straight out on to the sea wall...needn’t have bothered! Nowt! It was very quiet with only a few gulls and a handful of Cormorants bobbing about on the rising tide. A pair of Common Scoters tazzed by close in and about 50 others were seen in the very shimmery distance. A trawler was under steam followed by a huge host of gulls but nothing else as far as we could tell. It wasn’t the vessel the fisheries management survey people use to assess the local fish stocks – the one which tells us they only catch two individual Cod for every hour the net is in the water (yes that’s all – just two fish per hour!!!)! Looks like we’ve caught them all!
Eventually four Sandwich Terns came by all sporting their white 'winter' foreheads. With not a lot happening it was time for a brew.
Back out at lunchtime and it was even less thrilling than earlier, if that’s at all possible. There were some small blobs of seaweed were floating on the tide just under the wall. (Advance warning: there’s a big string coming :) ) One such blob not too far out but too close to get the scope on was much larger and appeared to have a ‘head’ sticking out above the water. For an instant we thought – Flippin flamin McNora - - a freakin TURTLE. Weirdest thing was it was ‘swimming’ the wrong way ie against the tide so we jumped up on the top of the wall – musta been excited, never done that before! – for a better view but our seaweed/turtle had disappeared. Concerted searching in the vicinity revealed nothing, not even any small blobs of seaweed...weird or what.
We scanned left and right and out to sea but again saw nothing. Note to self – take the bins for close-in stuff in future you dipstick!!!
We decided to move a few yards along the wall, past the fishermen, to see if there was any sign of what ever it was up there. Nothing, not even any seaweed here! We scanned from this unusual position and picked up a very unexpected Teal (P2 #63) bobbing about on the waves which we wouldn’t have seen from our normal position so all was not lost.

Revisiting our previous post the grass has now been identified on iSpot as Marsh Foxtail not Smaller Cat’s-tail as we first thought. Musta been at least a little unsure to stick on iSpot in the first place...oh and the Betony thingy came back confirmed as Marsh Woundwort, as we’d already alluded to.
Where to next? More of the same but without imaginary turtles.
In the meantime let us know what you’ve imagined in your outback.

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