The Safari spotted the Fox fortunately a second or two before Frank last night which was a big bonus otherwise he'd have been off like a rocket totally au contraire to his normal lethargic self.
Immediately after his early morning walk we gave him his breakfast and sent him back to bed. We, on the other hand, pointed the Solihull Special towards the river.
As soon as we arrived at the river and walked across the bridge the hoped for Kingfisher (151) shot upstream - result!. A couple of Goosanders were sat on the far bank.
We watched the Kingfisher park up on a small bankside Willow but when we reached it camera at the ready it had vanished...doh.
Something that hadn't done a runner was this Moorhen sitting on a nest which we thought might be a bit too low if the river rises, it's well down at the moment.
Dawn was coming up over the junction over the meeting of the two rivers.
The tall Sycamore tree on the left held a singing Corn Bunting in the topmost branches while the fields on the far side of the river had displaying Lapwings and singing Skylarks.
Meadow Foxtail was coming into flower.
In sheltered areas the sun hadn't reached the frost still gave a very wintery feel to the somewhat chilly morning.
The riverside woods had a much more summery feel to them with Willow Warbler (152), Blackcap and Chiffchaff adding to the chorus of Woodpigeons, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins and Chaffinches.
This rural idyll is somewhat spoilt by the Euro-standard cattle and the ubiquitous used silage bag caught on the flood line.
More idyllically rural was this rather large Small Leaved Lime tree at about 6 feet (2m) in diameter, we'll check the Ancient Tree Hunt website and if it isn't there we'll put it on tomorrow.
With two year birds in the bag and time still available we headed off to another riverside site. On the way being high up in the Land Rover we could see where the banks of the river had been scoured by winter's high waters providing a large stretch suitable for the buzzing Sand Martins (153) to nest in.
Reaching the car park we noted a couple of cars and when we got out our heart sank a bit as we heard shouting and barking dogs coming from the river.
As luck would have it they had scared our quarry this end of the river but it was very very wary and wouldn't allow close approach...But distant or not Dipper (154) is in the bag. Crikey we'll have to get up early to stand a chance of getting a better pic!
No Bullfinch here but the spring plants were beginning to put on a decent show.
The Bluebells will be delicious next weekend.
Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifage is a midget in the plant world but it's name more than makes up for its stature
Like the Bluebells the Wild Garlic is going to be spectacular in a couple of days or so but today only the odd plant was in flower.
After lunch a short safari to the nature reserve was in order. The cold wind and scientists surveying the mere precluded sitting in the hides so we set off for the Feeding Station. It took ages as Frank was in super sniffer mode. At the gate a Chiffchaff competed with a Blackcap (MMLNR #75). Just couldn't get it to look at the camera though.
At the Feeding Station we played 'Guide in the Hide' for an hour with several groups of beginner birders, hope they learned something and enjoyed the birds on offer, Reed Buntings, Pheasant, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tits and a rather confiding Wren, with Blackbird and Blackcap singing nearby but out of sight.
After an afternoon of chores at Base Camp our Extreme Photographer called to ask if we wanted to go lizard hunting in the last of the evening sunshine - well what d'ya think??? Did we or didn't we???
Of course we did, we had an hour of searching for our scaly friends without success. We did find a couple of Frogs and this stunning Smooth Newt under bits n bobs we turned over.
The plants were good though, rakes of Cowslips, Wild Strawberries, Violets sp and a large patch of Primroses of which this was only a small portion.
The walk in through the fields gave us a pair of Grey Partridges (155).
A great day!
Where to next? no early morning Patch 2 tomorrow
In the meantime let us know what's lurking under rocks, logs, bricks and boulders in your outback.