The Safari's drive to work was interesting with an 'alba' Wagtail in the puddle where the alleged R'ouzel was, for once in a blue moon we were in Wifey's car and sat too low down to be able to see it properly...but another one goes on the R'ouzel puddle list. After a few minutes in the office we braved the soon to land with a vengeance weather and was out on site with the Rangers and super local naturalist MS. We were looking for recent signs of the Water Voles and invited him to come along to search for Common Meadow Rue a plant that is so common round here that any site that has it automatically qualifies for County Biological Heritage Site status.
We donned the waders but the prospect of getting in the rather full and uninviting looking ditch didn’t appeal...and that water was cold!...so we checked for feeding signs from the top of the bank occasionally slithering into the slimy shallows for a closer look and/or to retrieve a specimen of chewed grass. We are pleased to report that the Water Voles are still in situ and we found signs right into the depths of the adjacent area too.
While we bumbled around the ditch and had a shuffy across the field MS checked out out the rough area for Common Meadow Rue – yes he found it...he found in spades not just hanging on in this part of town but obviously finding it to its liking and doing very well thank you!
Next time we go alooking in this area they should be in flower and a full six feet (2m) tall and not so easy to step on/over
Our turning over of things gave us a few Frogs, one Toad and one Short Tailed Field Vole, with evidence of recent activity by several more voles but no snakes, lizards or newts.
One thing we did find that we weren’t so chuffed about were these tiny fry in the amphibian/snake pond. We hope they’ll only grow into 3-Spined Sticklebacks and not anything larger with a bigger mouth and appetite – the Sticklebacks are bad enough as we know only too well from the pond at work (Still at least seven remaining uncaptured in there!).
Only inches from where the fry were hanging out the Ranger found this...
Bingo double bingo – a Great Crested Newt egg. Further searching didn’t give us any more but they must be there somewhere! Not a bad morning’s work and our 'candidate' CBHS must surely now be declared as the full monty!
Not content with all that joy we pulled up a wet work, the promised rain had now started in earnest, and heard a hweet call from the bushes in the garden. Luckily we had our bins with us as a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff would be a good bird here. But it was seriously better than that, our ‘hweet’er was a cracking male Redstart tucked away under the Tamarisk bushes hopping around on the floor poking about through the woodchip. What a great bird for Patch 2, (#65). Unfortunately we got the camera too slowly and it did a flit and wasn’t seen again despite some searching in between the showers/downpours. Wasn't expecting to see two grounded migrants of this species within a few days of each other that's for sure!
At lunchtime – yes all that happen before lunch! – we met up with our friend from the sanddunes for a bit of sea watching. Not a great lot going on with a strong easterly wind and ropey weather although a few Sandwich Terns were diving not too far out and a single Guillemot was a little further away. Much better was the Grey Seal only 50 yards off the wall. We dashed back to the office for the camera but it must have got wind of our intentions and by the time we’d got back – 2 minutes – he’d done a bunk and wasn’t seen again. It’s not often we get close encounters like that, usually a seal is just a dot in the distance.
Where to next? Just checked the weather and more overnight showers and easterly winds are forecast so what might be in the Patch 2 garden tomorrow
In the meantime let us know what vivid coloured thing brightened up your outback.