The Safari hit the nature reserve late morning after being fortified by scoffing into the now traditional bacon butty with a bonus tatty-scone today and lashings of brown sauce.
first thing we noticed was it was so foggy we could barely see across to the far side, second thing we noticed was despite the well above freezing temperatures for the last 12 hours or more there was still plenty of ice covering the mere...temperatures had risen by this time to an almost Caribbean 3 1/2°C!!!
Scan round we saw there more than a few Lapwings on the ice and a count gave us at least 275 with some packed tight together difficult to see through the reed tops. A really good number for here! Some Curlews (MMLNR #60) were heard as they circled unseen in the fog until they dropped lower and were a flock of eight. Unfortunately they didn't land in the end. Two Snipe flew through and may have landed out of sight somewhere in the reedbeds.
On the ice the duck were trying to conserve energy and we found a male and two female Pintails then a second male sat well away from the others, always good to see this irregular visitor to the reserve.
The day's second reserve year bird came in the form of a party of six Shelducks (MMLNR #61) which passed the hide and looked like they were going to land - a little later we took a stroll down to the far end of the mere and discovered they had indeed landed.
A bird that didn't land too well was a Coot that flew in low but couldn't control its landing gear and ended up doing a 540° pirouette on its backside...then it did the same again! Didn't do it three times...musta got the feeling it was going to better to walk than fly and crash-land...shame cos the incumbents in the hide were enjoying the performance....The scores are in! 6...5.5...6!!!
The wander back from Ice Station Zebra gave us these two Herring Gulls sat in a tree, not something you see every day...anyone reckon they might be eying up a bizarre nesting place?
Back at the Bird Club Hide we briefly heard the Cetti's Warbler and saw a scolding Wren - it seems that in interactions between these to species the smaller but very feisty Wren is the top dog. Several trawls through the gulls gave us nothing more exciting than a Great Black Back and four Lesser Black Backs. In the end we found an 'argenteus' Herring Gull with an 'argentatus' wing tip pattern - thrilling!
The fields to the east held a large flock of feral Pigeons and about 100 or so Linnets - not quite as many as here then.
With nothing much happening in the fog we decided to nip round to the little woodland opposite the big park in search of the Treecreepers that are reputed to live there. As soon as we entered the wood it was a different world, it felt 10°C warmer, visibility wasn't hampered by fog and there was bird song everywhere. Robins, a Woodpigeon, two Song Thrushes chorally thrashing it out, Blue and Great Tits and a Goldcrest which sounded close...it was it was by our knee but by the time we'd swung the camera round at it it had done a bunk into an adjacent thicket.
Frank should have gone for a paddle in this nice shallow and clean little stream rather than plunging headlong into the deep stagnant black stinky hole he found later...
A nightmare trying to get him to look at the camera...there's always something more interesting to look at!
In the meantime let us know what's giving you the woodland run-around in your outback.