Then it was time to load Frank into tthe Land Rover and head off to the nature reserve. With slow coaches and road works the three mile journey too well over half an hour! We went straight into the hide and phoned the Rangers to see if they'd had anything and found the owls. The owl had been a pain and several of the punters left disappointed but shortly after the walk the Rangers had another look for it and it popped up from out of sight lower in the shrubbery and was able to be shown to a few from the walk who had only gone as far as the nearby hide. The Rangers also mentioned four Pintails, which we saw almost immediately as we were scanning with the bins in the direction they were in anyway. Pintails (102, MMLNR #71) on the nature reserve are perhaps the rarest of the dabblers so it's always nice to see them - we've deleted the dubious Red Crested Pochard from the park cos it's hardly from a self-sustaining wild population which is the reason we didn't count yesterday's Red Legged Partridge, only introduced by numpties so they can kill them round here.
Frank took an age to get round to the owls and on route we met up with a chap who was looking for them but had already gone past them without knowing it. We showed him the easy one that had popped up for the Rangers and then saw the second one secreted behind a bundle of twigs only 18 inches (50cm) from the first but soooooo hard to see.
With nothing much else in the scrub we wandered back seeing a few Snipe and a Little Egret on the way. We checked the gulls but nothing was outstanding.
Back at the hide we were told that there were some Waxwings at a nearby supermarket...aren't they always! Cars were loaded and turned and off went the convey somewhat reminiscent of twitches of old...all of two miles rather than the two hundred we used to do. And there they were sat in a tall Poplar tree at the side of the road opposite the store, 10 Waxwings (103) waiting to drop into a Cotoneaster tree still heavily laden with berries.
You've seen sqizzillions of cracking Waxwing pics this winter, now it's time to 'enjoy' the worst of the lot!
We now had the choice of going back to the nature reserve or somewhere else. We chose to go to the park to look for the Treecreepers.
On the way to the park we were stopped at traffic lights we were inexpicably drawn to the footwear of a trendy type of woman wearing the most bizarre thing we've ever seen - at £125 a pair you've gotta ask yourself why????????? Maybe we should have gone back to the park as we were struggling to see anything interesting in the park when the phone rang and one of our fellow 'twitchers' told us they'd gone back to the reserve and the Bittern a flew past them and landed in the reeds close by - &*^(*&^&^%^%W*W!!!!!!*
The gulls in the park gave us a rather interestingly long billed Herring Gull which must be at the extreme end of bill length for the species but nothing else about it was unusual.
Shame about those lovely altruistic people that enjoy feeding their left over bread to the ducks but then chuck the empty bag in the lake when there is a bin only a few feet behind them!!!
At the far end of the lake we met up with the Rangers again who told us of a Winter Aconite in flower.
So a late start turned into quite a good day in the end and Frank seems to have survived...so far...how he doesn't go double lame again later on this evening.
Where to next? Back on Patch 2 and with strong winds forecast again the Little Gulls and others may well be back in play.
In the meantime let us know what turned up unexpectedly in your outback.
* insert expletive of your own choosing