The Safari went out a little later than usual on our Winter Thrushes survey and found no Blackbirds in first bit of woodland, two feeding near the scratty hedge in the horse field, then only three Blackbirds at the Community Orchard there have been a lot more in recent weeks, but a Chaffinch was singing there.
On to the survey route and we could her a Song Thrush singing behind us - great sound.
Our survey gave us two more singing Song Thrushes, one had a nearby skulking partner(?). Our Blackbird total came to 24 and a handful of Starlings hit the scoreboard too.
We broke off our 'square' to visit the lake a couple of hundred yards or so out of bounds. Two Grey Lag Geese (45) were added to our NBPT list and a Great Crested Grebe slumbered quietly while a 1st winter Cormorant somehow clung to the thinnest of snags with its size 17 feet.
A check of the Black Headed Gulls resting on the rail didn't give us any ringed birds, one was there last week, plain BTO type though not a Darvik.
Very few Mallards were on the lake and there seemed to be only one pair of Coot. Small birds were absent too.
Moving round to another viewpoint of the 'wild side' of the lake we counted nine Teal and then found a 10th well away from the others. A scan for the Pochards revealed they had left but a pair of Shovelers (NBPT #46) tucked well into edge of the reeds could be interesting if they stick around...hope so.
Nothing much was added on the route back but we did stop in the wildflower zone and counted 24 Bee Orchid rosettes along the southern edge of the 'plateau'. A scan for Snipe in the almost permanent puddle/pond against the railway line only gave us a rather dapper Pied Wagtail.
Watching the garden, rather than actually doing any of the gardening we'd planned to do - darned rain - gave us the regular fare, two (or a pair?) Chaffinches, 10 Goldfinches, nine Greenfinches including a 1st year bird sporting a ring which we unsuccessfully tried to read with the scope, a Wren, Blackbirds, Woodpigeons and pair of Great Tits came and went a few times. Although we hear Dunnocks singing close by every morning we've still only seen the one in the garden this year, the one that snuck in right at the death on our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey.
The two new birds for the North Blackpool Pond Trail takes the tally there to one higher than Patch 2, neck and neck! Also neck and neck and even closer, tied, is our year list challenge with Monika; we're both on 119 and there's all to play for with the spring migration on its way although if there is any it's going to come to a full stop for the next few days as winter is going to hit back hard. Always feel so sorry for the Sand Martins that have only days earlier crossed the Sahara Desert to end up huddled together hungry and freezing cold on a fence wire in a snow storm at the nature reserve. Wonder if our lottery bid would run to a state of the art custom built nesting bank for them - anyone out there got any successful designs?
Where to next? Might try the estuary tomorrow morning. The high spring tide probably isn't high enough and will be fighting against a wind trying to push it back out to sea and we'll probably get there a bit too late when it's already on the ebb but you never know. Interestingly an Otter was seen at the nature reserve yesterday, the first for ages maybe a year, so we'll probably end up there for an hour or so too.
In the meantime let us know if the migrants are arriving in your outback yet.