The Safari had two Peregrines and nothing else early on this morning.
As soon as we got back to Base Camp it was time to load the car and head to the South-side to meet up with the Safari's co-instigator Haddy who has recently had reports of snakes on our childhood local patch; certainly never heard of any way back in the annals of time - high time to investigate then!
The weather forecast last night was for showers easing to warm sunshine...well they got that wrong with thunder and lightning thrugh the night. As we drove down we noticed that the rain was getting heavier and the puddles deeper. Shortly before pulling up at Haddy's we were releaved to have fitted a snorkel to the Land Rover as the road was totally submerged after continuous torrential rain. The site is a fishing pit so to get to check for snakes we had to afix reel to rod and sit through a series of downpours knowing that any self-respecting snake wouldn't even be considering venturing forth. As we arrived a Wheatear was seen on the edge of the field. We both caught a few small fish, Perch and Roach, but after sitting out for four hours we were wetter than the fish would ever be!
As a youngster we used to roam these fields and woods birding, fishing in the pits and collecting Blackberries with Grandma etc etc. Suffice to say some 40+ years later very little has changed, the tractors are a bit bigger but the crops are the same. Today though we didn't hear the 'plop' of any Water Voles which used to be common down there.
The pit we fished had both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler singing and the bush next to us ad a Reed Bunting hopping about. A Curlew or two called from distant fields and as the weather cleared a Buzzard was heard. The sun also brought out an unidentified Hawker dragonfly and a Green Veined White butterfly.
As we packed up the fishing gear a panic went through the Swallows, a falcon...could it be a Hobby?...No; just our 'third' Peregrine of the day.
After a lunch in the dry it was time to hit a site out on the moss we've never been to before but where Haddy had found Lancashire's 6th ('modern') male Red Backed Shrike. None of those there today unfortunately. The path leads straight to DS!!! if you go in the opposite direction to the way the sign is pointing - be a long old walk though. In the warm afternoon sun we did find a hovering Kestrel and a field of Curlews. A quick look at the drainage dyke didn't reveal any Banded Demoiselles which Haddy had seen once before but it was a bit blowy this arvo and we only found a single Blue Tailed Damselfly clinging to the swinging reeds.
Afer checking the fields we had a look around a cracking piece of wet woodland - strickly no access but a path runs round all four sides of it. Not the best time of day but it was an interesting walk with a Blackcap heard 'tacc'ing and the scent of a Fox (which we can't smell too well) hung heavy in the air over a well used track.
A Hoof Fungus was found, first we've seen for a while, after photographing another unID's fungus we spotted a large dragonfly which was probably a Southern Hawker - we have got pics but due to camera/pc interface malfunctions we're unable to show you any of today's adventure :( - normal service might not be resumed until we get back to work next Thursday...then you'll be sorry there'll be thousand of pics to wade through.
We walked a grassy track focusing on a Goldfinch feeding on Thistles when a Pheasant erupted from under our feet...good job there's nothing wrong with our heart but nearly had to change our trousers!
A little further on there was a big bundle of black bagged wrapped silage in the corner of the field - why do you need to oput grass in a bag anyway? Well a few yards further on and we realised we need to go to Specsavers (other opiticians are available) as the bales turned into Aberdeen Angus cows...oops. A couple more Buzzards were seen and heard had we both remarked on how common they have become so quickly round these parts; only 20 years ago birders kept the isolated pioneers' nests as secret as they possibly could. A flock of flushed partridges looked as though at least one of them was a Grey Partridge but the last one was definitely a Red Leg.
All to soon the safari was over and it was time to go our separate ways until next time...what a great day...once we had dried out at least.
Where to next? A day nearer our telegram tomorrow and we'll be heading out to PW's territory for a spot of lunch...with the bins of course.
In the meantime let us know what's been embarrasingly misidentified in your outback.