Sunday, 27 November 2011

Waiting for a train in vain?

The Safari got out for the afternoon on the nature reserve for our last day of 'freedom' - yes we're fit enough to go back to work in the morning :(  We had a few hours to wait before it went dark enough for the Otter(s?) to put in appearance. Nothing for it but to look for something else, particularly as a Smew was present briefly yesterday morning, or even roosted overnight.
Settling down in the Fylde Bird Club hide we witnessed a real humdinger of a Mallard fight that started then they broke off and then went at each other again. This time the bout went on for a good five minutes.

We counted a decent number of Coot - at least 180, half a dozen Gadwall and a lorra-lorra of Teal which were bit flighty in the wind which was gusting to over 50mph at times...still none of those  American Green Winged Teals though. Since our last visit there has been an influx of Pochards, probably the carrier species for the Smew, which we didn't find.
A scan of the east fields gave us a Stock Dove on the barn then a movement in a bush had us looking at about eight Magpies and a few Carrion Crows. As we were looking at those a crow flew past its bright red bill catching the low sunlight and standing out like a sore thumb - could only be a Chough!!! We grabbed the scope but time wasn't on our side as it flew behind the big barn rather than in front and must have landed in one the fields as it didn't emerge from behind the far end of the barn. But was it Chough or just a Carrion Crow carrying something bright red? If any Chough are reported within a 20 mile radius in the next few days we saw it first! Also out that way was a flock of about 30 Linnets.
With the light starting to fade we nipped down to the other end of the reserve to get ready for an Otter-fest. Frank found a ball and had a little play but then got tired and needed a lie down.

Whilst waiting the gulls started to pass through on their way to the coast and with the mostly Black Headed Gulls we found an adult Mediterranean Gull, this was after moaning to MMcG that we hadn't seen any decent gulls here for ages, he couldn't remember when he'd last seen a Med here either!
There must have been more Linnets out in the fields as two flocks of at least two dozen and a smaller one of about a dozen birds each flew to roost somewhere to the west. A dozen or so Collared Doves in bits and bobs also flew past going to roost, there used to be a substantial roost in the zoo, wonder if they are still there...
PL and a couple of others were waiting on the Viewing Platform and we saw camera flashes so they might have been in luck or were just getting pics of the pair of Goldeneyes or Shovelers that were over there - either way we didn't see any Otters.
This was the scene as we were waiting - for those that haven't been before look for the small Willow tree that the sun is picking out and scan a hundred yards left and right of here as that seems to be its favourite area.

Where to next? Back to work...but that does mean that Patch 2 will come back into play - might even be some late seabirds after the blow we've been having.
In the meantime let us know who was battling in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

A Chough!! Hmmmm....well I hope someone else reports it Davo, be a great tick for ya!

Jonathan Scragg said...

not heard anything about that smew! who had it? might want to put it on the bird club website so others can be on the look out at other sites

Christian said...

"Fight, fight fight!" Takes me back to my school days!

I saw a Chough in Woodplumpton, nr Preston last year. Bright red beak - unmistakable!

Blackpool Nature said...

Checked my crow pics - they were taken at 1.25pm over the east fields.
If you saw yours at 2.00pm it may well have been a Chough - unless there's an outbreak of crows picking up shiny red objects !
Have Chough been recorded over the Mere before ?

Flashes you saw were me trying - in vain - to get some decent shots of the Goldeneye

Where have the Otters gone !!!!