Saturday, 14 January 2012

First full Patch 1 visit of the year

The Safari hasn't managed a full Patch 1 visit this year until this morning. What with the dark mornings, grotty weather and Frank's arthriticy hips slowing him down a bit we just hadn't got that far. But being a little later than a weekday, bright sunshine, a crisp frost on the ground and Frank in the mood to follow his nose we headed off up the hill to the sound of the school's Song Thrush singing in the distance away to our left.
Behind us but off patch was a large skein of Pink Footed Geese their honking easily heard above the noise of the early morning traffic on the gentle easterly breeze...probably flew right over CR's place!
We hadn't taken a notebook but once in the park the following patch species fell for the first time...and the list shows just how little patchwork we've done here so far this year...
In alphabetical order rather than order of sighting...
Black Headed Gull
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Great Tit
Pink Footed Goose - another skein of about 120 following the main road northwards right overhead - not one of the several dog walkers looked up even though they were quite low and making a lot of noise!
Sparrowhawk - a wonderful display of skydancing for a couple of minutes before it dropped like a stone through the treetops and out of sight.
Woodpigeon - !!! Shows how much we've neglected the patch!!!
The Patch 1 totaliser now stands at 19 with plenty more 'easy' ones to find eg Long Tailed Tit and Goldfinch still haven't made the spreadsheet!
Massed ranks of Starlings were constantly passing overhead leaving their roost on the piers heading out east to the fields for a days Leather Jacket hunting.
Talking of hunting...the Peregrine was tucking in to breakfast on our way back.
Later in the morning we were allowed a short safari to the nature reserve...we hoped yesterday's Smew would be on site but we'd had no news throughout the morning. A call to AB revealed it had been reported but he'd been on site for over an hour but hadn't seen it...not good.
As we arrived on site we got a text from CR saying he was Ice Station Zebra getting his first pics of the Iceland Gull in brilliant winter sunshine as opposed to dull rainy conditions. By the time we'd driven the 200 yards to join him it had drifted behind the reeds and we'd missed our chance :-( After a while, enjoying the waterfowl, minus Smew, we set off for a mooch round the rest of the reserve passing a group of four Fieldfares feeding on Apples (taken in the same tree yesterday).
Frozen condensation was thawing and dripping from the ceiling of the Feeding Station hide and the light wasn't good so we didn't stop long...a sackful of Reed Buntings were enjoying the free grub, so much so that it's nearly impossible to find one away from the feeders for an 'in habitat' shot during the winter.
Moving round we picked up a Kestrel hunting from a stationary perch in the was here we discovered the batteries in the camera were flat! C got some pics before his stealth-mode failed and he flushed it. A quick look into the harsh light from the viewing platform had us scurrying round to find the Long Eared Owl. It was sat in a slightly different place to 'normal' and looked to be a greyer bird than the 'usual' one...h the old two bird theory...
The scrub was devoid of thrushes although we weren't looking to hard. The reedbed was devoid of Bitterns and we only heard one Water Rail and unusually no Cetti's Warblers - you'd have thought they'd have been singing their little hearts out in the glorious sunshine. Snipe however were quite plentiful - this year seems to be by far the best for them in a long time here.
The Canada Geese and Mallards along the edge of the island were behaving as though they'd seen a Fox but we couldn't see any hint of it. A scan of the gulls in front of the geese and ducks only revealed Black Heads and Commons.
But as we got in to the Fylde Bird Club hide there was the Fox prowling along the crest of the island...that's when we discovered our spare set of batteries were also flat...:-(  By the time we'd put a third set in the Fox had gone behind the big patch of Gorse and didn't reappear out the other side.
Off we went back to our starting position at Ice Station Zebra stopping at 'Mick's tree' - the best otter photographing vantage point - on the way.
At ICZ we took the pics of a feeding Mute Swan before realising it was well past 'should have been back at Base Camp by now' time and had to skedaddle.

 Where to next? More of the same but will the Smew put in an appearance?
In the meantime let us know what didn't put in an appearance when it really should have done in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

Hoping for one of those Mutes to show up here Dave - a difficult patch addition!

Wouldn't mind one of those L E O's either :-)

Anonymous said...

How can anyone not look up when Pinks are passing over. Philestines !! ;-)

cliff said...

What a terrific visit to the Mere that was, with the reserve looking at its best in the glorious sunshine. How on earth you found that LEO in a tree behind another tree I'll never know, you didn't find me a Jack Snipe though - but I'll let you off for putting me onto the Kestrel. The fox was a nice bonus too.



cliff said...

Oh, nice Swan pics too!