The Safari did get to the nature reserve for a couple of hours this arvo but not before taking Frank around Patch 1 which was quite productive. A flock of at least 13 Long Tailed Tits made their way past us as we arrived and a Coal Tit sang heartily from a low open perch - no camera!!! with another nearby in with several Blue Tits and a pair of Great Tits.
Under the trees at the bottom of the park we saw a clump of well grown Bluebells, about 3" (75mm) tall.
A Grey Squirrel bounced around on the grass near the footy field, thankfully Frank neither spotted nor smelt it otherwise he'd have been off like a shot ploughing a furrow through the muddy saturated ground to get to it.
Seven Blackbirds were counted along with three Robins and on the way back to base camp we heard a Woodpigeon singing from the Golden Triangle.
Arriving at the nature reserve the first bird seen on the drive in was a Mistle Thrush. Then, after parking the Land Rover and going into the first hide another 'unusual' entry for the notebook in the form of three Lapwings roosting on the bund opposite.
There was enough noise from the blustery wind to drown out all man-made noise pollution and for a pleasant and refreshing change all we could hear were the pleeping of Teal, the squawking of Black Headed Gulls and the gentle lapping of the waves.
The reedbeds to either side of the hide each held a Wren this arvo but strangely no Cetti's Warblers. A flock of thrushes landed in the top of the big Sycamore tree away over the far side of the mere, the scope gave us a count of 11 Fieldfares.
Clinging to a bush on the island we spotted a fine female Kestrel while over to our left a Buzzard cruised the fields. A visiting birder told us he'd seen some swans in the far corner of those fields, two Mute Swans and two Bewick's Swans...so far we've only had Whooper Swans in the area this winter but we went to check them out and sure enough two Bewick's Swans they were...an excellent find!
We had hoped for lots of gulls to work through in the 'expectation' of finding the Iceland Gull but there were only a few Black Heads and Common Gulls all afternoon. One of the Black Heads showed a small patch of oil on it's belly from the recent spill - hope it's not going to be too serious - it could have a very deleterious effect on the hundreds of Common Scoters along the coast.
Wildfowl included two female Goldeneyes, could have been a third later unless they had split up, about 450 Teal with xxx??? more still tucked away in the reeds - no Green Winged Teal seen despite concerted checking - 28 Wigeon was our best count then we heard some more whistling unseen from another part of the reserve, 35 Shoveler is getting better, hopefully there'll be triple figures in the new year. The 135 Canada Geese and solitary white Grey Lag Goose could do with being eaten this week! Where's all these wildfowlers when you need them? Not that they should be shooting anywhere near the reserve of course!
Whilst waiting for the no-show of the Iceland Gull or even the Herring Gulls, so few seen - where were they? - we heard the Cetti's Warbler fire up a few short snatches of song and hearda Snipe flying round but couldn't pick it up. A male Kestrel and several Sparrowhawk sightings completed the day's raptors.
Best bird of the day was the lone Great Black Backed Gull that came in for a wash and brush up for about half an hour before leaving to the coast.
But best sightings were all the birds going to roost, flocks of varying sizes of Woodpigeons, Pied Wagtails, Goldfinches, Long Tailed Tits and several thousand pier-bound Starlings as well as lone Reed Buntings dropping in from on high all passed us as the day drew to a close.
So no Iceland Gull, Bittern or Otter but it was still very good to get out in the fresh air for the afternoon.
Took the camera this arvo but couldn't find anything to point it at so you'll have to make do with this old one...taken on horse dung but the same species - Yellow Dung Fly - was out in numbers in the afternoon sunshine enjoying the freshly laid dog's eggs (there was a bin specifically for that stuff not 20 yards away!!! Make us MAD.
Where to next? More of the same tomorrow unless there is something a bit different elsewhere to tempt us into a (slightly) more distant safari.
In the meantime let us know what's coming home to roost in your outback