The Safari has spent plenty of time over the last week staring at the small flocks of Common Scoters scattered across Patch 2 to no avail. This lunchtime we received news that their numbers had swelled by two to three times and one of them was a drake Surf Scoter...How cruel is that! Sometimes you can go right off weekends! Will it still be hanging around by Monday and we will be accused of a right royal string if we see it without a pic?
Unable to get down to Patch 2, where we would have missed it anyway as it had flown south and out of range, we had a wander up the North Blackpool Pond Trail instead.
As expected it was fairly quiet seeing as it was now mid-afternoon. The usual Goldfinches and Blackbirds were about and a good sized flock of Woodpigeons gleaned what they could from the over-grazed horse field. we spotted one Grey Squirrel than watched as a father pointed out another to his two young children...good to see them enjoying the wildlife but if only they were Reds. A drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker gave us the run-around so no pic unfortunately
We've read today about Defra's plan to remove the tiny and inconsequential but rat and mouse loving population of Aesculapian Snake in North Wales as part of their Invasive Species mission...Little Owls next? No chance of them doing Canada Geese, Grey Squirrels or Signal Crayfish...just the ineffectual easy to catch ones?
Rant over for the time being...
Signs of spring were showing all along our walk with this Cow Parsley we didn't notice last weekend.
A distant splash of gold was several Lesser Celandine flowers making the most of their sunny bank, further on there will be carpets of them in a week or two but today there was only a few signs of any flower buds.
Ramsons (aka Wild Garlic) was breaking through the leaf litter in places.
But the real harbinger of spring is the humble Snowdrop.
A Cormorant (NBPT #42) flew overhead and a little further on we heard then saw a Jackdaw (NBPT #43) near the lake.
At the lake we counted 10 Teal, 5 Pochard and a Great Crested Grebe (NBPT #44), but no sign of the Shoveler or Mute Swans that have been there recently to add to our NBPT year list.
Another dad and his pan-lids was feeding the ducks which was providing a half-hearted focus of interest for about a dozen Black Headed Gulls.
|Shame it's headless - but we do like the way the feathers are caught in the updraught/low pressure caused by the stall|
Nothing much to report on the way back other than to say if we'd been on our Winter Thrushes survey we'd have done better than usual for Blackbirds there were loads of them on the survey route in places we don't normally find them - typical!
A Song Thrush just about gave itself up for a pic, it just would face the front!
Back at Base Camp our Extrreme Photographer had called by to tell us of the tiger beetle-like tiny ground beetle he'd found Notiophilus biguttatus. No pics from him yet but have a shuffy here and here. The forat link's photostream has a pic showing the set-up needed for photo stacking to get that almost 3D effect. Love to have a go at that but not sure if we've got the patience or the techy know-how...can't knock the results though - superb!
If you'rre a follower/friend of the Safari on Twitter and/or Facebook you'll have noticed we've been 'inviting' you to sign petitions/contact your MP/MEP about a number of issues both local and international recently. We make no apologies for getting more 'political' and asking you to do so too...we blame that Mark Avery chap we went to see a while back. There are so many environmental issues that our 'leaders' need to address at the mo that those who elect them (if we did) or at least those who they claim to represent need to know what is important to us and how they should act on our behalf. The list is seemingly endless; elephant/rhino poaching. 127 marine conservation zones to be declared, fish discards at sea (sorted? through public pressure), Hen Harrier persecution, dolphin slaughter in Japan (please don't ever go to a dolphin 'show' when on your hols but ask yourself how they got there and what happened to their families - let the kids know too, the Sea Shepherd are pirates saga, marine/beach litter, rainforest and it's indigenous peoples destruction...this list is, sadly, endless but it only takes the good to do nothing for evil to prevail so please please please if we ask you to sign a petition then have a good look and a search in your heart and put finger to keyboard - it rarely takes more than a couple of minutes and you never know those on the receiving end might just take note if there's 100,001 rather than only 99,999 signatories.
Political rant over...
Where to next? By way of something different we've a conservation project arranged tomorrow so spades, loppers and survey sheets are at the ready - but what will we find...might be a bit early for some of the hoped for but with this wildlife malarkey you never quite know as my mate DB found out today when a very unexpected Snipe flew over his garden.
In the meantime let us know what's requiring pen to paper/finger to keyboard in your outback.