Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Across the river

The Safari's hopes of putting the mothy out last night came to nought when just as it was getting dark the rain was heard hammering on the sitting room window.

Our first full Patch 1 safari since Frank took ill gave us a singing Coal Tit, a Sparrowhawk wing it between the trees upsetting the Woodpigeons and a Willow/Chiff hweeting.

This morning were Frank-free and decided to head out over to the South-side with the target of two, possibly three, species to add to our Year List Challenge with Monika. The weather was more like late October than mid August but that should have meant that anything that dropped in yesterday would still be there.

As soon as we got there we headed to the far hide and as we arrived we heard a Whimbrel somewhere out over the marsh.

Plenty of Swallows hawked insects over the water during and in-between the heavy showers, at least three Sand Martins were with them. On the water were four Whooper Swans - they don't have long to wait for all their chums to come back now.

The Long Horn Cattle were joined by a flock of Grey Lag Geese. In the water behind them are three Ruff, there was a fourth when they lifted after a Buzzard flew past but that seemed to peel off and didn't reappear with the others.

We waited and waited but neither of our target species put in an appearance. Best sighting was the big bull but he was away over the far side of the reserve, unless the Great Black Backed Gull was. The bull is huge - how much bigger must have a bull Auroch, that used to live in these parts, have been?

A Stock Dove and a Lapwing gave us something else to look at before we decided our hands were too cold and wet and needed a walk to warm them up. A Swift flew over as we left the hand.

Moving round to the next hide a small patch of Lords & Ladies caught our eye, something we don't see very often these days.

On the wall of the hide we found this spider, some sort of Harvestman we think. Interesting arrangement of its legs, but is it resting, hiding or clinging to wall for dear life.
Anyone for an unknown moth? Very browny-grey and nondescript, could be a woodland or wetland species or even something very widespread and common.

A rare occurrence happened at lunchtime when the sun came out, albeit briefly, and with it all looked good especially the Purple Loosestrife!
A Male Kestrel appeared from nowhere as did three Green Veined/Small Whites.
On the water our only Tufted Duck and Gadwall of the day we found along with a Little Grebe.
On the way back to the first hide we watched a Short Tailed Field Vole nip across the path and saw two Speckled Woods spiralling in a shaft of sunlight in the woods.

No sign of the two on our wanted list.

The site was OK if you like Grey Lag Geese, Mallards, Shelducks, Tree Sparrows and a few Teal thrown in for good measure.

Nothing for it but to try for target number three a few miles away. with a stiff breeze bringing heavy showers we were far from confident.

Little Egrets were the most numerous bird of the session! That's never happened before! Only six though. A few Meadow Pipits fluttered out of the grass from under our feet and two Greenshanks were heard. Bird of the site was a Green Sandpiper that gave excellent fly-past views.

In the crop fields the other side of the sea wall we found a Brown Hare in with the Woodpigeons. nine Ringed Plovers flew from inland onto the marsh right in front of us and again a bit of sunshine brought out Small/Green Veined White butterflies, at least eight Common Blues were also seen.
At the car park the field of Sea Lavender looked stunning - the pic doesn't really do it justice -

Passing through the car park we walked on a bit and are really glad we did. We watched a Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine sparring for ages. The Peregrine was the aggressor swooping and diving, making the harrier turn and jink all over the place. On a couple of occasions they touched talons -superb!
A Brown Hare in the field beneath them was also give a clunk by the Peregrine and the large number of Stock Doves all bore the brunt of mock stoops. In the distance we spotted a second Peregrine while the battle royal continued.

all too soon it was time to make tracks back to Base Camp, no new year birds but the raptors' aerial combat easily made up for that.
Where to next? Back to work and a group on the beach tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know who's stooping at what in your outback.

1 comment:

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

The harvestman came back as Dicranopalpus ramosus - apparently 'one of the few absolutely unmistakeable harvestmen - these forked pedipalps do it.'
The moth was ID'd as Lesser/Common Rustic although I thought at the time it was far too big for this species perhaps more than half as big again.