Sunday, 23 December 2012

Invisible owls 0; visible owls 2

The Safari had two strikes at the nature reserve today. we joined the Ranger's Long Eared Owl walk which once again failed to provide an owl - where are they hiding? One was seen in the 'right place' during the week so why do they sneak off on Sundays? The weather yesterday was worse than abominable so they must be hunkered down down somewhere more sheltered and secluded.
Whilst we were looking for them we found a couple of Fieldfares.
The morning sunlight on the reeds was very nice to see...any sunlight is nice to see at the moment!
A good scout round for the Bee Orchid rosettes and found ten of them!
Nothing much was about but at the feeding station the usual 'garden' birds were in their usual abundance along with a Moorhen a couple of Pheasants and a Coal Tit.
Outside the hide a procession of Christmas puddings, Santas, elves and other sundry festive characters ran past in the annual charity fancy dress cross-country race...we were trying to get pics of the Pussy Willow that was opening above it really spring already? Don't think so; winter must still have a sting or three left in its tail.
We were back after lunch for another couple of hours. We hoped to scan through the 1000 or so Teal and perhaps last weekend's Iceland Gull might reappear. We settled down in the hide only to find hardly any Teal on view and barely a gull to be seen.
Ducks included several Shovelers
and more Wigeon than are normally found here but hard to count as they were scattered an not all visible from one place. Our best count was 38 but there could have been double that.
The nearest bird to us at one time was a nice male Wigeon that refused to wake up but kept going round in dozy circles.
 Several Mute Swans graced the mere but no Whoopers today...unless there were some in the flood in the fields to the east.
We met up with some friends who told us the Little Egret was in the fields close we went...and they were right, there it was on a large flood close to the dyke.
The first we've seen here and number 99 for the nature reserve and its environs this year. Looks like there's big puddle on the road in the distance. Shame we missed the two Redshanks this year, and we failed to see any Common Sandpipers. No Skylarks or Meadow Pipits either...we really should have reach the ton...maybe that'll be the Safari's target next year.
Watching the egret for a few minutes we saw it catch a couple of things - winding the scope up we saw they were fish!!!???!!! In a field???!!!??? Must have been washed in when the dyke broke its banks. It ate at least seven while we were watching.
At one time it stretched its head up and we watched a Peregrine stoop at a Feral Pigeon which it narrowly missed and had a half halfhearted second stab at, that was one lucky pigeon.
The egret settled down again on our side of the pool but it was now having some interest taken in it by a Buzzard perched on the top of a nearby Hawthorn.
About 20 Fieldfares and half as many Redwings flew past and a Cetti's Warbler called then sang from the reeds behind us. A Reed Bunting dropped in from on high.
We had another look at the mere and there were still no gulls but many more Teal were on view but still all were 'normal' Teal. A 2nd winter male Goldeneye was pick of the ducks.
Then we noticed the smallest Starling murmuration we've ever witnessed, there were seven of them wheeling around trying to throw shapes until they dropped in tot the reeds to roost.
Nine Cormorants were on the remains of the bund with a single Lapwing. In the corner seven Gadwall appeared but where are the Mallards? We reckon there were no more than 20 of them scattered around.
We didn't count the Tufted Ducks but saw not a single Pochard, there are still about 300 Coot though.
As the light faded we went back onto the embankment to look for the Barn wasn't looking out of its box and we were a bit disappointed but looking back there it was peering out in the gathering gloom. Looking 120 degrees to the north east we saw the Little Owl was on the barn roof...not bad two owls in view at the same time when this morning we couldn't find the 'star of the show'.
We watched the Barn Owl bobbing about in the entrance of his box and then he came out and sat on the ledge outside. We looked back at the Little Owl and turning back round saw we'd missed the Barn Owl fly off - how'd that happen? We scanned the island top, grasslands and top of the reeds to no Bitterns either...where are they???
A very enjoyable couple of hours.
Where to next? There'll be no safaris until Boxing day perhaps so wherever you are have a gud un...
In the meantime let us know what's missing from your outback.


Anonymous said... was a real treat to see the sun today Dave.
Love the shot of the Fieldfare.

Warren Baker said...

No sunshine here today Davo, I'm sure you can get 100 species on that reserve next year, got to get out more!

cliff said...

Well done getting the Egret Dave, & how fast must that car have been going through the flood on Mythop Road?

Cracking Fieldfare photo!!

Have a good Xmas.