Friday, 30 December 2011

Rain rain and more rain but certainly better

The Safari braved the heavy rain and went to the nature reserve for a couple of hours. We had thought of a further flung safari to have a look for the  three year birds to the north, namely Smew, Glossy Ibis and Glaucous Gull but to be honest with the weather being so bad, having Frank with us, the fuel tank being quite low and our Extreme Photographer wimping out of co-piloting we couldn't muster the enthusiasm as we have probably got just enough of a nose in front of Monika in our year list challenge...with a day and a half left she could pull out a last dash finish and pip us at the post though.
The grass was a bit wet on the 'alternative' way in to the nature reserve and we went slip-slidin away; maybe asking the Rangers for permission to go that way might not have been the best of ideas given the very wet conditions...apologies for leaving the furrows ruts...:-(

Once out of the mire we settled into the West Planting hide with nothing much on view but at least we were sheltered from the heavy rain and it wasn't windy, in fact the water was flat calm for a very refreshing change. We scanned through the Teal - an American Green Winged Teal was found at one of the Southside sites we were at the day after we were there - don't you hate it when that happens!!!! None here today. We counted approximately 50 Wigeon with some hidden by the tops of the reeds and possibly more tucked in on our side out of sight.
Although the rain was very heavy the light was excellent and we enjoyed just appreciating the various ducks. Then DP joined us and said he'd just seen the Iceland Gull from the Bird Club hide but it had drifted out of sight. We informed him it hadn't come past us unless it had flown off behind us. He went back to the Bird club hide and we followed a few minutes later, catching sight of the best bird on the reserve as we went but we weren't sure if it would be visible from the hide; however no-one came out of the hide so we assumed they must have been able to see it so we joined them - and there it was in all it's white-winged northern glory.
A bit too distant for our camera and in the dull light the pics are pretty crappy but we're happy enough with them...for the time being - be very relieved if it stays for a few more days and we get a chance to see it as one of our target of 100 species for the nature reserve in 2012.

As we watched the Iceland Gull cruising gently round doing very little in particular - have they any 'mode' other than gentle? In the heavy rain, all the gulls seemed very settled with very few coming or going, the second best bird on the reserve climbed the bank almost to the hide window...

It came so close it was more than a frame filler but wouldn't quite stay stock-still enough for such a close portrait in the lousy light conditions.

The gull was still around and started to play with a bit of decaying aquatic vegetation for a few minutes
A Cetti's Warbler sang very briefly to our left.
With the flat calm conditions making viewing so good we chatted to DP about this season's Bittern sightings and then he asked if the Otters had been seen since early December - they hadn't - - - - - but within two minutes of the conversation a bit of a Teal flush and a splash had us looking up over to where we normally see them. Not a Sparrowhawk this time but an Otter!!! Well beggar us sideways with a bag of wet kippers!!! there were wait..was that a third?????? YES - - THREE!!!

You'll have to use your imagination a bit but there are deffo three in the video - also note how we got slightly distracted by two gulls flying over about half way through...nuff said.
Couldn't think of a better way of spending the penultimate day of the year, unless of course it was a Glaucous Gull and four Otters :-)
Very satisfied we called it a day and headed back to Base Camp for a butty and a celebratory brew.
As we left we had a call from our local radio station. Now we've gotta think of our lifetime 10 most 'important' songs as we're gonna be interviewed live 'Desert Island Discs' style on BBC Radio Lancashire next week...ooohhh err a favourite tunes list of 50 or more to whittle down and a lifetime of secrets to reveal...scary stuff.

Where to next? More of the same tomorrow please...
In the meantime let us know what would get the bag of wet kippers out in your  outback.


cliff said...

Otterly brilliant Dave!!!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Nice one Cliff - still reeling from your Towcester pun :-)


Warren Baker said...

Got some reward for venturing out in the crap weather Davo, well done mate. 3 Otters, brilliant :-)

Stuart Price said...

Nice one, I don't recall ever seeing an Otter........I've seen a Sea Otter here in Japan and (my memory is hazy) maybe Giant Otter in South America but in the UK.........never.

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Stu - don't know how long you've been living abroad but they have made a spectacular comeback to most of the UK now - which is great unless you've set up a fishery for big carp in the last few years!!!