The Safari headed back out to our Winter Thrushes Survey square today in much more amenable conditions - cool yes with frost on the grass but blue skies and no wind! Before we'd got to the end of our street we watched a flock of 12 Jackdaws going over. Almost at the start of the walk through our square we had a Song Thrush fly overhead which turned out to be the only one of the morning.
A slug had been caught out by the cold and was heading home verrrrryyyyy verrrrryyyyy slowly. Several Robins and Dunnocks were calling and in its usual thicket we heard the Goldcrest again. Once on our mapped path we noted the Blackbirds of which there were many and most were feeding on Hawthorn berries but there was some chase me chase me going on and a lot of calling.
|Calling, not singing|
|Oooh chase me chase me|
It took a while to find the first Redwing but we later had a flighty flock of five. A Skylark was heard but unseen when looked for overhead and a Sparrowhawk tazzed between the houses near the end of our survey.
All good stuff; we'll do the next one in two weeks time.
The friendly horses looked good backlit by the morning sun but it was now to warm for their steamy breath to be seen.
On the way back to Base Camp we noticed the slug, a Black Slug (Arion ater) had only moved about a millimetre so we picked him up and placed him under a shrub in a garden well out of harms way.
We had hoped to get out fairly soon after breakfast but a non-starting Land Rover put paid to that plan...it was a while before the diesel had warmed enough to burn...a visit to the garage is booked! So it was a little before lunchtime when we eventually hit the road and headed to the nature reserve.
Frank hasn't been to the nature reserve for ages and he was excited so much so that it took nearly an hour to walk the couple of hundred yards along the embankment and by eck was it chilly in the light easterly breeze...very reminiscent of the East Bank at Cley! He sniffed here and scent marked there and waddled through the deep puddle at the edge of the path as he's done hundreds of times before but with renewed vigour today. His 'speed' allowed us to count two Cetti's Warblers and a Water Rail in the reeds. On the water we got 156 Coot with probably a few unseen along the reed edge below us, 14 Wigeon and the flock of Canada and Grey Lag Geese numbered almost 200, count em if you like!
Looking the other way there was a gorgeous male Kestrel on the closest wires and 139 Linnets on the furthest wires. A handful of Redwings gorged on Hawthorn berries in the hedge along the big barn while a flock of about 100 Fieldfares with a few Redwings thrown in for good measure came from the east but headed off northwards before getting too close.
There were four Whooper Swans visible on a flash in the field to the south east but driving down the hill earlier we'd seen about 100 in another flood further towards to far corner. Pink Footed Geese flew over at regular intervals.
We had wanted to wait for the Starlings to come in but our toes decided otherwise and we gave up, but not before this young Mute Swan winged its way close above our head.
Where to next? Back to the vagaries of Patch 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what's flying close overhead in your outback.