The Safari woke up to yet another frosty morning but at least it was clear and going to be sunny once the orange globe had risen above the eastern hills.
After breakfast we stood out in the garden for a little while - in the sun it was nice but out of it it was still more than a tad on the chilly side! Just a single one individual of our two target species flew over, a Meadow Pipit (Garden #26). A few minutes later a more unexpected species flew over with a Herring Gull in hot pursuit, a Grey Heron (Garden #27)...but no Pied Wagtails.
Then there was a knock on the door and our Extreme Photographer walked in complete with his huge new lens, ready to leave for the hill country but first we had to pick up CR who was coming along too.
Half an hour later we were out of the Land Rover and eager to get going after our success of picking up a Sand Martin (126) over the river a few minutes earlier.
The walk in to the hills was uneventful and very quite apart from a plethora of dog sh*t bags hanging in the trees, not nice probably better to leave it lurking in the grass out here in the wilds. We soon left the main track and headed up hill to start turning stones in the hunt for today's quarry.
Walking on and turning stones there was little in the way of invertebrates. We thought we heard a Yellowhammer briefly and CR saw a Common Lizard again briefly. Our Extreme Photographer heard a scuttle in the Bracken, almost certainly another Common Lizard. But our quarry was being extremely elusive.
A Buzzard soared overhead and across the valley. At the end of our walk our EP found another Common Lizard but agin it scuttled away before any of us could aim a camera. Behind us a Chiffchaff (127) called and we'd seen our first Goldcrest of the year, although we had heard them at several sites already this year.
It was time to turn round and head for home and there on the path a few feet behind us was our quarry - dead! We inspected it and found it hadn't succumbed to any of our size 9 boots, a relief. It was unmarked and may have died from loss of body fat being unable to find any invertebrates quickly enough in this protracted cold spell. Still it was a Slow Worm and gives us another place to check for live specimens later in the year.
A kettle of four Buzzards soared in tight circles and Grey Wagtails were seen a couple of times.
On the drive back past the river the Sand Martin was nowhere to be seen, but there'll be plenty there by the end of next week probably.
Where to next? Might have a bash at the nature reserve tomoz and there's the penultimate Winter Thrushes survey to do.
In the meantime let us know what was disappointingly dead in your outback.