The Safari was out early to set up for the Long Eared Owl walk this morning but could we find the littler blighters! Not sitting up in their favourite twigs, nor their reserve hiding place; where could they be? We searched high and low and far and wide to no avail...and the hungry pack of owl seeking punters drew ever closer. The best we had on offer for them were three Redwings a singing Song Thrush and a singing Chaffinch.
The Ranger managed to spot one then the second from a different vantage point and everyone got at least a bit of a look.
We went round to the main hide to see nothing much about. A Cetti's Warbler sang briefly and there was the usual selection of ducks, including at least 163 Wigeon, four Goldeneyes, five Pintails and no Lesser Scaups - wonder where that one has nicked off too...wasn't far away last week but where is it now?
A cuppa with the Rangers beckoned as we were wet in it was cold!
As the kettle boiled the Ranger panned the scrape-cam round to reveal a Shelduck on the water - that wasn't there a few minutes earlier. It's a long time since we ran for a bird...long time since we've run full-stop!!! And 'only' a Shelduck (MMLNR #74) - but they are frequent but irregular visitors here so it's a 'must' to pick one up when you can.
The Cormorant with the very white head is an interesting individual but we didn't scope it to check its gular angle so it may or may not be a 'sinensis'.
After a brew and a chin-wag we went back to the hide to learn we'd missed a Bittern by minutes...we watched it make its way away from us up the reedbed its position given away by the flushing Teal and Wigeon racing out of the edge of the reedbed.
A Bittern appear right down in front of us which we didn't notice until it flew across the mere and landed in the reeds opposite and showed well but briefly - we got a couple of shots off but missed it :-(
We kept checking the gulls and noticed a passage of come bathe and go Lesser Black Backed Gulls - spring must be on its way!
A Water Rail flew across the gap in front of us and three Snipe came from nowhere.
A good number of Fieldfares and a few Redwings were on the wires in the fields to the east, the number of Linnets was impressive with perhaps as many as 100 being in the field today.
With the cold and damp getting to our bones and getting to Frank's rheumaticy shoulder too it was time to call it a day somewhat earlier than we perhaps would have liked.
Back at Base Camp we checked the Stealth-cam and also read about the Fox that ate the baby - again??? We always worry about a totally unnecessary backlash when we hear these stories. What's going on? Someone's got enough money to leave a door open in February? Wouldn't happen at Base Camp cos we're far to stingy with the fuel bills...and just as well cos look who was lurking in the shrubbery in the middle of the night.
You can see how much smaller and slighter our Fox is compared to just yer 'average' Labrador. He was very interested to sniff who had been on his patch.
Where to next? A late start to allow our Winter Thrushes survey tomorrow and a chance to go Christmas tree planting on the beach????? Harbour Porpoises offshore today, maybe we should have looked harder whilst at the rally yesterday.
In the meantime let us know who's lurking behind the reeds in your outback.