The Safari went took Frank to the nature reserve this arvo - we went armed and dangerous complete with the scope out today to try a bit of digiscoping. The wind was strong and cold and between bouts of sunshine the showers were ferocious, rattling off the hide roofs...or worse blasting in through the windows.
Most of the waterfowl were sheltering in the reeds but a male Goldeneye was a welcome sight as there have been very few of them this season, three females was a lower than normal count too.
A drake Pintail was good to see but we couldn't find the female that others had seen with it. Teal numbers were around the 300 mark and we didn't count the Wigeon; 18 Gadwall found their way into the notebook.
On the bund opposite the hide were 11 Cormorants, one of which was interestingly small and bronzy on the breast with an very slender bill. It's the one we should have digiscoped but try as we might with these three we couldn't get a decent pic - too much hand-shake on the camera combining with too much wind-shake on the scope. By the time we'd faffed around the small one had done one!
A Kestrel was chased by a Black Headed Gull and a Buzzard was plagued by a Carrion Crow as it tried to hunt the Feral Pigeons in the fields to our left, eventually it got fed up with the crow and had a semi-serious attempt at catching it -the crow was not amused!!! The gulls were decidedly disappointing with very few coming in while we were there.
Through the scope we could see that the bushes beyond the Cormorants were sporting the white blobs indicating that the Pussy Willow will be out in a few days and with it the early queen Bumble Bees; one has been seen already! Ash on the other hand won't be opening its dark chocolate coloured leaf buds for a few months yet - but will they open before the Oak this year?
We dashed to the feeding station between downpours. It was busy with the common visitors to feeding stations everywhere, the lack of Great Spotted Woodpeckers was made up for by five or six Reed Buntings. This female Blackbird pulled out the most enormous worm not long after the pic was taken but took it under the Brambles to 'process' it away from prying eyes
A male Blackbird gave us our best pic of the day by sitting in the closest bush to the window.
Also at the feeders - and thwarted by the anti- Grey Squirrel measures - were a posse of three male and three female Pheasants.
As much as we don't really like these mass-produced none natives they are value for money in the colours stakes.
From the feeding station hide we could hear a Song Thrush (MMLNR No 58) singing in to the wind and on the walk back to our starting point we spotted a single Mistle Thrush (MMLNR No 59) on the grassed area with several Blackbirds (but not the white headed one - have any of our readers seen it recently?)
We left the reserve much earlier than anticipated on a bit of a downer as we couldn't muster the enthusiasm to stay longer in the duff conditions - basically we wimped out.
With it being still very early for going back to Base camp we decided to push the boat out and drive the extra mile to go and have a look at the flooded field. A wise decision as there were one Grey Heron, one Pied Wagtail, two Lapwings and two Green Sandpipers (98) poking around on the flood.We were still back at Base Camp far too early but we really struggled to want to stay out longer...are we ill?
Where to next? Patch 2 will be back in play tomorrow lets hope the wind has blown something interesting our way and that it's died down enough for us to be able to find it!
In the meantime let us know what, if anything, put the mockers on your outback.