The Safari was given a two hour pass after lunch so we opted to be dropped off at the nature reserve. It was a cracking autumn day with warm sunshine and no wind.
At the kiddies duck feeding area the water was flat calm and the reflections of the waterfowl were superb as this Moorhen swimming along serenely shows.
All of sudden it sped up and high-tailed it jerkily towards the reeds, while a Mallard looked impassively on...what was the matter?
Someone had through bread and the gulls were on the move..shame the gentle breeze was northerly so they all showed their backsides as the flew round for the freebies.
These two gull-in-flight shots would have been crackers if they had just been a little more in focus...dohhh
All the commotion had rippled up the water summat rotten but that allowed for some surreal Monet or Matisse type effects...don't stare too long or too hard or you'll go dizzy
We heard tales of Barn Owls, Long Eared Owls and Short Eared Owls. The former frequenting the box on the island at dusk and the latter has been flying round during the day on and off while the Long Eareds were not in the usual place and hard to find. So we had a wonder round that way to see what we could see. We saw a Reed Bunting fly out of the reeds and heard two Water Rails. We weren't expecting the Barn Owl to be visible, it wasn't; the box has a baffle to keep the inner sanctum dark during the day. Sadly the Shorty didn't show. On the way round to the Long Eareds hidey-hole we spotted this Gorse bush in almost full flower, if it wasn't for the Hawthorn berries behind it it could almost have been early March!
In the meantime we bumped into MMcG who told us he'd just seen two Long Eareds and very kindly offered to show them to us...we could only find one of them the other having moved in the few minutes since M last looked. No way would we have found it if we hadn't been put on the right twig of the right bush...many thanks M!
He went on his way and we strolled down to the nearby hide to the chuckling of a nearby Fieldfare. Here we heard a Cetti's Warbler and on the water we heard the high pitched whistle of Wigeon for the first time this season. After a while we decided to have another look at the Long Eareds and lo-and-behold we found two. The next half an hour were spent trying to get the passing public, birders and none birders on to them. It wasn't possible to see both at the same time, you had to move a couple of paces one way or the other to be able to see each one in turn.
If you look really hard into this mess you can just about make out the flaming amber of an eye catching the sunlight and a couple of the arrow markings on its lower breast...its body is facing right but its head is turned towards us...honest
At our feet one of the punters pointed out some nice autumn colour on a Rosa rugosa so we went all arty. Funny how the red pattern is repeated on all three large leaves almost as if they are identical triplets.
Time was now up and we had to get back to be picked up. The walk back didn't give us the Shorty :( and there were no Kingfishers in the dyke, don't think there's been any there since well before last winter's big freeze anyway. So we're still one short of that 200 target.
Where to next? Our Extreme Photographer has a free day tomorrow and has offered to take us out for a couple of hours in the morning.
In the meantime let us know what's come over all arty in your outback.