The Safari was out before there was a 6 on the clock this morning. Frank woke us up horribly early so after he's been taken out and then given his breakfast we pointed the Land Rover at the nature reserve.
It was a tad on the frosty side, by eck it cooled our tootsies! A Grasshopper Warbler was heard in the distance from the rough grass extension to the nature reserve. It was pretty quiet, just a few Blackcaps, Blackbirds and plenty of Wrens, probably bird of the day and don't seem to have suffered too hard in the long winter.
A Shelduck appeared to have left the water as it flew low over our head half way along the path. One of our hoped for species piped up in the expected place, Lesser Whitethroat (154, MMLNR #101). From the reed bed we heard several Reed Warblers and a couple of Sedge Warblers singing in the the rising mist as the sun edged over the eastern horizon.
The Barn Owl was peering out of his box but as we were about to get a picture the first dog walker of the morning decided he need to chat to us.
Not a good morning to be a Short Tailed Field Vole...having survived the ravages of the Barn Owl now the Kestrel was awake and looking for breakfast.
Mute Swans no doubt welcomed the warmth as it reached them.
Four Cetti's Warblers were entered in the notebook and we stood a good while not seeing any Pied Flycatchers but all the time we were there Swallows buzzed us really close, over thee water there were about 50 of them and possibly twice that many Sand Martins and just a single Swift.
After a good couple of hours our tummy was telling us it was time for a brew and a couple of slices of toast. On the way back we spoke to a birder/photographer who had just taken a superb pic of a Grasshopper Warbler singing in the open, he said there were three down there, one of which we'd had and we had another at the far end just after the Barn Owl fiasco.
Wifey allowed us to go out again mid morning. Traffic was diabolical so we opted to park up at a different place and walk a bit further to the nature rerserve. Turned out to be a good move.
In the woods all the usual woodland birds were in good voice and someone had put food on a log in there but it was a bit busy with families for the birds to stop for more than a smash and grab raid.
The gulls that lurk on the roofs in the zoo alerted us to a raptor...Osprey?...no 'just' a Buzzard but very low and would have made a good subject for the lens had we not been under the trees.
We had a look under the usual refugia and were reported with our first Toad of the year...WHAT? - at the end of April...on a month or more late!!!Smooth Newt
Great Crested Newt...nice to see these back in their 'normal' place but will we find some different individuals next time.
The Cowslips were impressive too.
We didn't come across anything else of real note as we sat on the sheltered bench enjoying the now warm sun. We were waiting for the gulls to pick out another raptor which they failed to do, only finding us a couple of Herons and not flinching when the Kestrel flew over.
A couple of Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells also enjoyed the warm conditions while Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and a male Blackcap picked insects from the outer branches of the adjacent Willow tree - a lovely way to spend...don't actually know how long we sat there, well over an hour.
The resident male Mute Swan, a different one from the ones above at the far end of the lake, wasn't at all happy about the Canada Geese and Grey Lag Geese intruding into his territory.
Working in the garden in the afternoon with Wifey didn't produce anything new, the garden is still on the cold and wintery side but we did plant up some flowers ready for the invasion of the bugs.Where to next? We might get down to the nature reserve again tomorrow, could be early again...
In the meantime let us know who rules the roost in your outback.