The Safari was up n at em early doors this morning. We had to pick up a colleague for an early start and that gave us the opportunity to do a bit of a local twitch.
Hot news broke of two year birds in the local area last night, one very close the other a little further off but still well within range.
So off we went striking northwards, the opposite way to our normal direction. Within minutes we were on site scanning the undergrowth around the islands...nothing to be seen apart from a fair few Mallards. A Coot was on a nest of freshly plucked Reedmace leaves and we watched a young Great Crested Grebe climb aboard mum or dad’s back. Our intended was no where to be seen. Walking round to the next viewing area we still couldn’t find what we were looking for as four Canada Geese swam in to view from the other, wilder, half of the lake. This half has only limited viewing through the trees but we scanned as much as we could. On a dead snag in the middle of the lake was a Common Sandpiper, don’t recall having seen one of those here before. A Reed Warbler churred from the stand of Phragmites in front of us and two Lesser Black Backed Gulls rested quietly in the middle of the lake. All was a picture of serenity.
Walking on to the main viewing area we had another scan from the safety rail. Not a lot had changed the Mallards had shuffled about a bit, roughly an uncounted 50 of them.
The grebes now had three young with them and the flat calm water was giving nice reflections so we bent down to get the camera out, this seemed to spook them and they sailed a little further away towards the wooded island. No chance now of a pic but still worth a look through the bins. Behind them tucked away in the undergrowth through a gap in the overhanging branches was what looked like a broken stump which had a duck-like profile...after all yesterday’s look-alike driftwoods we were cautious but then it moved and we noticed a pale eye ring and eye strip like half a pair of specs...the female Mandarin ( 177 (+17)) – Thank you baby grebes!
Patch 2 was a very grey affair. A wall of indistinctness loomed about a mile offshore. The dead flat water held three disembodied heads of Grey Seals floating in the greyness. About a dozen Common Terns with a couple of Sandwich Terns mooched up and down looking for fish without much success. Then three of the Commons peeled off a came over the beach calling furiously, right overhead and then over the work’s garden and away to the east – never seen them do that before!
Extremely heavy rain during the morning had us pondering the wisdom of the second twitch and by lunchtime we’d decided that our quarry was going nowhere in that so should still be around over the weekend giving us the opportunity to go and have a gander at it in better weather and better conditions underfoot. So we braved the elements and headed over the road where visibility was now worse than this morning. Very little could be seen, the tide backing against the gentle breeze had chopped up the sea bit but not so much that we wouldn’t have been able to see the seals had they been close in. A distant Gannet flipped in and out of the wall of grey and a lone Manx Shearwater was closer in, then the drizzle became heavy rain and we abandoned our station.
Where to next? Better luck with the weather tomorrow may bring 178 up...but will the mothy go out?
In the meantime let us know just how wet it was in your outback.