Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Up to our neck in it

The Safari looked up at a clear sky on Patch 1 to see Mars, shining bright red, well brightish orangey-red at least, over the western horizon...seems funny to think it’s just a big ball of rust, made of the same stuff as most of the Australian outback hence the two being the same colour. Nothing wildlify to report from the patch; we didn’t get far as Frank was terribly stiff and slow this morning so no footy for him tonight ... strange how he recovers so quickly when we turn round and head back down the hill towards his breakfast???
Patch 2 early doors wasn’t much cop either. Lots of gulls on the beach and a fair few uncounted Oystercatchers but no other waders at all. Just a few Common Scoters out at sea in the not so good visibility.
Mid morning was time for the jaunt with a difference we mentioned yesterday. The Safari is exaggerating a bit as we were actually only well past our knees in it, thankfully we had full length chest waders on. The ‘it’ in question was the short stretch of ditch that supports a small colony of Water Voles. Today was the first survey of the site of the year. We weren’t expecting to see any actual animals and true to form we didn’t. But we did find a few burrows – the water level in the ditch was quite a bit higher than when KM and her team of volunteers from Lancs Wildlife Trust surveyed it last summer - several latrines were seen and lots of feeding signs. All of which are good news as the survey could have been a lot trickier given the recent very cold weather.

Still awaiting for verification of these signs but we're pretty confident they are from the Water Voles. The droppings aren't as green as the ones seen last summer, but neither is the grass at this time of year!
The ponds that were dug last year are full and looking good, all that is needed are some reptile/amphibian refugia putting down and the vegetation to grow up. We had a bit of a tramp around but failed to put anything of interest up. A Moorhen gave us a start when flushed from the ditch but that was about it birdwise apart from two Kestrels hunting in the distance. A rather stumpy looking Water Skater was of interest, but unphotographed, nothing at all like the usual ‘summer’ ones, in fact nothing at all like any we’ve ever seen before...perhaps we should have taken more notice of it although it did disappear pretty rapidly under the bankside grasses. As we were packing up ready to leave one of our number flipped over a bit of old polystyrene with her welly and out hopped a rather grumpy small Frog.
Back at Patch 2 after some serious OCD-style hand washing and a very quick lunch little had changed from earlier; the light was still poor, the beach far more disturbed by dogs and consequently far fewer gulls and Oystercatchers and still nothing else. At sea the same few Common Scoters were still about.
Where to next? More of the same but without the Water Voles.
In the meantime let us know what you’ve been up to your neck in in your outback


Warren Baker said...

Frank 'aint the only one who's stiff and slow in the mornings these days!

Good bit of detective work on the Voles, lets hope they turn up in person for the camera :-)

Christian said...

Hi Dave, I'm interested in looking at the night sky but I don't know anything about it. How can I tell that it's mars that I am looking at? Is it close to the moon?

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Christian see here

I see Mars in the morning before dawn when it is due west (directly opposite the soon to be rising sun)at about 22 deg up from the horizon shining an untwinkly orangy glow and its pretty big comapred to the other stars at that time.



Christian said...

Thanks Dave - I'll check that website out mate. Thanks for the info.