The Safari was out on the nature reserve not long after the sun eased over the eastern horizon away, white frost made the grass crisp and it crackled underfoot, the many puddles were treacherously frozen. Frank was on a go slow shiff-athon along the embankment but that allowed us to hear (probably) two Cetti's Warblers, one at the bridge and the other(?) about half way along - we actually SAW this one flit briefly across one of the recently dug gaps in the reeds.
A check along the still unfrozen dyke didn't give us the Kingfisher that us been seen a couple of times recently.
Once we got behind the island something flushed a lot of Teal from their shelter in the margins of the North Reeds, if only what ever it was had done it a couple of minutes earlier we'd have known what it was.
Our objective, as usual at the mo, was the elusive Bullfinches and the now 'regular'-ish Long Eared Owls. Meeting a group from the east wasn't encouraging - they'd seen neither! Once again as usual they turned round and followed us to the 'regular' owl spot - it/they weren't there again and plenty of searching other bushes in the vicinity didn't reveal them or the Bullfinches. The owls were probably low down and out of sight due to intervening vegetation but were the Bullies still on site or had they shipped out over night?
Lots of Blackbirds and Fieldfares were feeding on the berries and Apples but even flightier than yesterday and gave no chance of any pics. On the drive in we flushed a good number of Redwings which had we seen them in time we may have been able to roll to a stop and get some pics from the Land Rover.
Reed Buntings and Goldfinches also gave us the photography run-around while Frank pulling the other way on his lead prevented us getting on a small bird which flew across the track in front of us and looked very much like a Chiffchaff...maybe we should ignore the dogs on leads in the nature reserve rule like the majority of other dog walkers! D'yer think if there was a total dog ban (not unreasonable in a nature reserve) they'd still come in but keep them on their leads...nah we didn't think so either...
CR arrived as expected and we both wandered down to the Viewing platform where the low sun in our faces more or less prevented viewing so we didn't stop long but made our way to the Feeding Station which was lively but Bulllfinchless. Cold forced us out after about half an hour.
We went back to the 'owls' photographing some nice Goldfinches feeding on Teasel seeds on the way.
|All hand-held @ approx 1500mm zoom - GET A TRIPOD - got one but it's just another thing to carry!|
Cliff's pics will be an order of magnitude better when they appear here so keep checking.
Almost back AB caught up with us after seeing a couple of Siskins in the Alders on the other side of the track to the Feeding Station - we'd looked up there but seen nothing! AND he'd had a fly-over Redshank!!!
We did have something to show AB - a frozen slug. It must have been out when the weather briefly warmed up and got caught by a sudden drop in temperature.
Not often you see a Black Slug (Arion ater) or any other slug for that matter, with ice on its back...it was a hard as a sherbert lemon - poor thing. We found a couple more Bee Orchid rosettes too when we started looking around where we'd found them yesterday.
Again no owls or Bullfinches and by now we'd run out of time.
AB had the last laugh though...a txt when we got home told us he'd seen one of the Bullfinches...you can really go off some people.
Where to next? Back again tomorrow morning/lunchtime, but we can only stay out until mid afternoon - will it be long enough.
In the meantime let us know who had all the luck in your outback.