Sunday, 9 December 2012

Females of the species

The Safari was back on the nature reserve this morning and for some reason females seemed to be order of the day.
The first birds we noticed were a huge flock of Starlings and Woodpigeons in the field to the east. Also there were two Mute Swans lying dead under the power wires which wasn't good - the wires do have bird 'deflectors' fitted but they hadn't worked in this instance.
At the corner we had our first female, a Reed Bunting...not this one, which is one we forgot to post yesterday.
 Around the reed bed we failed to hear any Cetti's Warblers or Water Rails but noted a flock of at least 75 Fieldfares arriving from the north west. Altogether we reckon we must have had over 200 moving through during the time we were there and a fair few Blackbirds coming actoss from the north too. Only a few Redwings and a single Song Thrush.
There's still plenty of Apples on the trees, somehow the Apple-picking thieving humans had ravaged the crop so badly this year. The Hawthorns also have a good crop still left, as for Rose hips - how many d'yer want - another 'female'
We went to see the owls and met RD and CB on the way, but didn't meet any Long Eared Owls again despite extensive searching - where are they and why have they moved?
A possible answer would be revealed a few minutes later. We walked back down the track and tied Frank to a post where he'd be able to see us and he soon settled down in the long grass for a snooze. We walked left and we walked right looking for the elusive Bullfinch(es?). They/it were still around as CB's much young ears had picked out a distant call a few minutes before. A Buzzard circled close overhead, a large flock of Lapwings we estimated at at least 150 flew round before heading off to thee east and a nice flock of Long Tailed Tits made their way noisily through the scrub.
Poor pic of a Lottie but is it  a female
Strange to think that just 20 years ago these were almost a 'description' species at the nature reserve they were that infrequent!
Eventually a couple of Goldfinches appeared not too far back in the scrub and as neither ourselves or RD had seen any birds other than a pesky Robin for a good few minutes we lifted our bins, almost simultaneously, and both said ...Bullfinch! We had a good gawp at this truly infrequent visitor to the reserve and although this one is MM LNR #98 for us we have seen a small number over the years but probably not for at least ten years, might even be 15 now - doesn't time fly when you're having fun!
We got this very shaky pic in the dark - it had been lovely and sunny for ages and just when we needed it it had gone in behind a big black cloud.
Bet that's hurt your eyes!
With that rubbish on the SD card and the sun coming out we decided to wait around for a better photo opportunity. That rubbish above could be the only pic of a Bullfinch taken at the reserve, unless someone has an old fashioned slide from the old days. No doubt someone will say they've got one but at time of writing we've not heard of any. Note that she is a female, and the other one with her (still present?) is also a female so despite the habitat being absolutely bob on for them they aren't likely to breed - anyone ever tried cloning Bullfinches?
We waited and waited and waited until at last we heard a call or two and really concentrated on find in the bird, another call made us look up and there it was right in the top of a nearby Apple tree but obscured. Very cautiously we inched to a better spot for an obscured pic, set the camera to rapid fire, pulled the ISO down to sensible and adjusted the exposure control...aim focus...GONE...a flippin spaniel came charging up the path running in and out of  the bushes with no sign of its owner! A couple of minutes later a vision in pink came in to view with no idea where her dog was or what it was doing...and not a care that it was rampaging around a nature reserve...She was the first of a procession of women with loose dogs over the next half hour...and we wonder why the owls have gone. seems like some people get a dog and lose the ability to read the signs with big letters on them on every gate saying NO DOGS UNLESS ON A SHORT LEAD...not an invisible unlimited length non-tangling lead.
Anyway rant over we didn't think we'd get another chance at the Bullfinch so we went back to the Bird Club hide to check out the gulls - there were very few.
On the way one of the dead swans had recovered and sat up and flapped two big white unbroken wings, so was it just sitting there or had it suffered some other unseen injury? The other was certainly dead as a Carrion Crow had its head up somewhere we doubt you'd want to put your head...still it's all recycling! Also in the field and far from dead were a dozen Pink Footed Geese, don't often see them in this first field.
The Teal were checked, no luck and 29 Wigeon were counted but later we learned there was a similar number at the far end out of sight from the hide.
A Sparrowhawk waited at the base of tree preparing to ambush something unwary, but it had no chance with the two Snipe that flew out of the reedbed.
Getting cold and Frank tripping people up in the hide, can't see him in the dark when they come in from outside and he ALWAYS lies right in the way we almost called it a day when this female Shoveler came very close in to the little bay.

So not a bad day but this evening we discovered we'd left too early as a Little Egret was seen in the afternoon, never seen one at the nature reserve but they still weren't common in the area when we finished working there.
Will we get the 100? If so what will they be? There's some 'horrors' missing off the list, checking our spreadsheet there's no Meadow Pipit or Skylark, have we totally missed them or just 'managed' to not record them???
We called into Comet to see if we could pick up a 'better' camera at an knock down price but got there far too late as there was nothing left at all...a bit disappointing but we feel really sorry for the staff though and trying to steal a big bargain somehow felt a bit ghoulish; not that that would have stopped us had the price been right.
Where to next? Little chance of any safari tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what mischief the females are up to in your outback.


cliff said...

Well done getting the mythical Bullfinch Dave!!!

As for missing out on the Egret - just to pi$$ you off - I've had two sightings of them at the Mere, well one overhead & one in the adjacent fields (I managed to photograph the latter).

Nice Shoveler photos - the archetypal cartoon duck.

Blackpool Nature said...

Hi Dave !

Well done getting the Bullfinch.
Should have used the other photo of the Shoveler on your header - definitely the best shot of the two -
You're a bit previous with the date - it's the 9th not the 12th of December !
Sorry I missed Frank today !



Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Thanks Peter

I toyed with the idea of the other pic as it is better but the bird is looking out of the page - might have a fiddle and turn it round when I change the date....dohhh wishin my life away



Warren Baker said...

Blimey I didn't realise Bullies were so scarce with you Davo, very sad :-(

Like those Shoveler photo's :-)