The Safari loaded up Frank just after dawn and pointed the Solihull Special southbound down the motorway for the annual rendezvous with our southern buddies at Moore Nature Reserve. The motorway gave us our only Kestrel of the day and a couple of Jays.
We meet up at this time of year as the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are quite active and the trees don't have many leaves making it still possible to see them. There is a good selection of other stuff to be found and at this time of year anything can turn up...and it did!
Wandering round to the LSPker 'tree' we staked it out for a good while without much success. The usual small woodland stuff was about Wrens, Robins, Blue and Great Tits, Nuthatch etc but not our specific quarry. We gave up and decided to stroll round to the feeders. As we left we heard aBlackcap (140) which all three of us had been hearing for a few minutes but none of registered it as year bird...the penny dropped with a decided clang! At the feeders a similar suite of species was present with the addition of Reed Buntings and Coal Tits, but no Willow Tits :-( A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed solidly nearby and two Jays flew across the back.
Returning to the tree we did another stake outonly to learn from some other birders that had we stayed five more minutes before we'd have seen it....dohhhh. This time we had more luck as we heard it call the 'Kestrel' call and ddo a bit of drumming...Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (141) on the list, but we'd still like to get a glimpse of the stripy little fella. After another good half hour of standing round we got the briefest fly past with totally untickable views as it by-passed the 'tree' and shot off into the woods in the distance.
No chance of catching up with it so it was off on a trek to see if we could track down a recently seen Ring Ouzel. More Blackcaps and a plethora of Chiffchaffs were heard on the way. We stopped at a hide which overlooks very little and while watching a Buzzard lazily meandering its way over the site a Swallow (142) zipped past well above it.
At the river we learnt that the Ring Ouzel had been showing well but a 4x4 had come past laden with hay to feed the horses in the field and it hadn't been seen since. A long wait ensued with the briefest of glimpses of something that could, with a lot of imagination, have been a thrush sp.
Our two mates wandered off after about half an hour on the search for spiders and all other things invertebrate
...then just as we were beginning to give up hope there it was, about 50 yards to the left of where we'd been looking - a shout to the others and Ring Ouzel (143) was in the bag and showed nicely in the rather duff light for a good few minutes - success!
No Sand Martins were seen on the river but a very nice Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)was potted by AB.
The walk back to the 'tree' gave us our first Comma butterfly of the year.
Once again at the tree we learnt we'd just missed the LSPecker...how unlucky can three lads get. We hung around hopefully anyway and are glad we did as we found a splendid 3rd winter Glaucous Gull (144) in a mass of gulls circling overhead..TWICE!!! Oh the Safari just loves gulls!
Giving up on the LSPecker with time running out for Haddy and Anno we headed back to the car park aiming for a brew and a butty and picked up a fine male Orange Tip on the way.
With flasks of coffee drunk and butties munched the other two depated and we were left - what to do? Head home or have another stake out...just in case. With it being quite early and not needing to rush back to Base Camp we opted for the stake out...and oh boy are we glad we did...
OK they aren't feather perfect but hand held at that range through the twiggy stuff while shaking like a leaf with excitement we're quite pleased with them!
A great end to a great day out - thanks guys, same again next year?
Where to next? Back on Patch 2 where it would seem some goodies have been seen today.
In the meantime let us know what looks like tree climbing miniature Zebra in your outback.