Monday, 31 December 2012

What was and what might be

The Safari was well and truly whooped by Monika in our annual birding challenge this year - excluding our trip Down Under.
We dipped a few birds this year but even those wouldn't have got us near her total.
On the patches bad misses were House Sparrow and House Martin in the garden, on Patch 1 house martin (again!) and Common Gull, Patch 2 failures were the Blue Tit (arrrggghhh), Collared Dove (how'd that happen?) and Fulmar while at the nature reserve we were on site twice when a Redshank was present and no Meadow Pipits or Skylarks for us there either (how'd we miss those two?). If only yesterday's swirling flock of Lapwings (you did get it didn't you?) had  had a Golden Plover, Ruff, Redshank or Black Tailed Godwit with them - used to get good numbers of Golden Plovers in the fields to the east.
No Lifers for us this year and it was surprising how many of the so called common species we saw only once or twice; Common Sandpiper, Corn Bunting, Cuckoo, Fulmar, Goosander, Grey Partridge (can that still be called a 'common' species?), Mediterranean Gulls were hard to come by this year - used to be able to sniff em out a mile away!, Spotted Flycatcher, and Tawny Owl; maybe we should get out more!
Mammals were odd to say the least with great sightings of Otters and Bottle Nosed Dolphins and probable Minke Whales but no Stoats or Weasels - no, we're not  kidding!
The highlights were too many to mention but our Numbat darting into Aussie Glen's back 'garden' is THE highlight of the last 50 years wildlife watching rather than just the last 12 months! Every day being out with nature is a highlight although you can tire of rain, rain and more rain.
So what for 2013? We/ve set a bird target of 200 again for Monika to beat. We have trips to Northumberland/Scottish Borders and Oban on the Scottish West coast to look forward too which might make out 200 a git easier to reach...nothing out of the British Isles though. A MARINElife survey is planned, might get two in this year, who knows!
The biggest change is that we are abandoning Patch 1 now that Frank is struggling to get that far so no more chance of emulating or bettering the Iberian Chiffchaff of a couple or springs ago. We'll still visit but not that regularly. Instead we are going to concentrate on the North Blackpool Pond Trail where we do our Winter Thrushes Survey and have enjoyed some decent vis migging, there's deffo more to find there.
One thing we don't want to be doing too much of is haring round the countryside twitching, burning expensive fuel for fun, although we will be visiting some old favourites from time to time. Moore NR, Leighton Moss RSPB, HoM RSPB, Marshside RSPB, Martin Mere WWT, Brockholes LWT, Mere Sands Wood LWT, to name but a few...looks like the sustainability angle just went right out the window! We also have a trip to the Midlands in about a months time to places unknown with m'Laddo round his local patch(es) which should be good.
Like they say if you don't get out you won't see nowt so off we went to the nature reserve to see if we could fluke upon that 100th species.
We turned up at lunchtime and alreaady the light was poor so all our pics are taken at ISO Ridiculous and are the best we could squeeze out of the camera.
This Herring Gull was playing 'Paddling Pete' on the grass as we drove up to the hide.
 Then a few yards further on who should put in another appearance - Snowy as PL like to call him
We got in to the hide jsut in time as the heavens opened - which proved to be bath time for this female Mallard.
 Her hubby wasn't impressed
 Although he seem to perk up once the deluge had passed
 and indulged in a bit of stretching
 There are still plenty of Teal on the reserve
Gulls were very much in evidence today ass we missed the Iceland Gull by seconds, it may have even flown over us and we didn't pick it out of the flock that was flushed by ??? from the SE corner minutes earlier which we were scanning hopefully for a Mediterranean Gull. Shed loads of Black Headed Gulls though with a few starting to get their summery heads.
Then we got a txt from JS saying his mate had just seen the Long Eared Owls (must be Monday!!!) in the place they hung out last winter...well that's the first time this back end. So we hot footed it over that way...no so fast as it took Frank over 1/2 an hour to walk the 500 yards...grrrrr. But on the way did we hear the Kingfisher at the overflow??? Sounded like their shrill piping call but if it was we couldn't locate the bird. From the bridge we could see TWO Little Egrets (buses anyone?) on the flood but as we raised the long lens something (not us far to far away) flushed them to another flood in a dip in the field and out of sight.
The field the shooters aren't supposed to be in held 18 Pink Footed Geese. Apologies for the poor quality.
Eventually we reached the owls and it took a further 10 minutes or more to actually find them secreted in the scrub. We've marked the places to look from with two scuff marks on the grass verge by the path, hopefully they won't wash away overnight and folks will have a clue where to start looking tomorrow morning....assuming they read this. A grey one to the east, not too difficult and a brown one to the west, much trickier limbo dancing required if you're over four feet tall to get the right angle.
A slow traipse back to the hide gave us nothing new and we sat there chewing the fat with MJ and MMcG until a family came in and we all gave encouragement to a keen young photographer on one of his first outings with his Christmas camera...he seemed to be doing rather better than we were as well judging by the ones he was reviewing on his camera's rear screen! All credit too him and great to see such enthusiasm in a youngster...hope he fills many SD cards!
The Iceland Gull failed to show itself again, nor anything else out of the ordinary for that matter, and with terribly cold tootsies we pulled the plug on 2012 and finished the year on 99 for the nature reserve (100 if you can count two Little Egrets as it was only earlier in the week we got our first there!).
Where to next? Well it all kicks off again tomorrow, the last day of 'freedom', so we'll be back on the nature reserve and heading for 125 in 2013. Might get a safari to somewhere else in too, possibly the NBPT on foot.
In the meantime let us know if 2012 was a a hit or miss in your outback
Happy New Year to all our readers - we hope it's a good one for you all

1 comment:

Deano said...

Happy New Year to you too Dave.

PS : can`t believe some of the species you missed !!