The Safari got to the nature reserve a couple of minutes after six this morning armed with our lucky socks! As soon as we opened the door to let Frank out a Cetti's Warbler piped up, a tally of the known areas they occur in suggests seven singing males this season :-) In the same small patch of reeds Sedge Warbler (142, MMLNR #92*) started to sing its manic song, within seconds a Reed Warbler (143, 93) sang too. Things were looking springy at last. More of each were heard too. We walked along the embankment and boy was it cool in the breeze but the promised early rain was nowhere in sight. Behind us a pair of Little Grebes called, will they nest here this year? Deffo nesting here is the pair of Mute Swans, the female sitting on a huge pile of vegetation gave the game away. A little further down we could see the Barn Owl (MMLNR # 94) sitting in the doorway of his box. Looking down the length of the mere gave us a surprise Pink Footed Goose on the water which later joined the 27 Grey Lag Geese feeding in the fields to the east.
Three Oystercatchers flew over calling loudly and we counted three sitting Lapwings in said fields, but no Wheatears :-( Two Stock Doves held their usual position on the barn roof. Frank had got as far as he was prepared to go so we turned round to go back to have a look from the FBC hide. Not far along we thought we heard a Grasshopper Warbler, walking a little further ears wide open we did definitely hear it (144, 95) but couldn't find it in the dense vegetation below the embankment, a bird moved in the general area but was a male Reed Bunting.
A check from the hide didn't give us a Common Sandpiper but a large number of mixed hirundines dropped in.
Back at Base Camp a chunky organic bacon butty was devoid with gusto - delish!
As soon as the washing up was done we went back out this time without Frank. Before we reached the nature reserve the rain started.
We did a slow full curcuit and spent a long time in the NW hide looking down the length of the mere as the rain hammered down.
Chiffchaffs were heard and a Willow Warbler pottered about low in the Brambles in front of us and to the right a Whitethroat (145, 96) sang just once but wasn't seen.
Gadwall numbered eight in the end and we found 10 Teal. 85 or so Coot included only one we could see sitting. Shovelers were hidden at first but showed themselves to be eight males and three females.
The pair of Kestrels were on the barn and a Buzzard.
Eventually we found a Common Sandpiper (146, 97) leaving to the SE and heard the ringing 'teu teu teu' of an unseen Greenshank (147, 98) not a bad bird for the reserve.
Walking slowly round in the rain didn't give us much except for a few more Willow Warblers and a huge flock of hirundines.
Reaching the hide we learned that the Redstart we'd expected to find on the other side was in front of the hide earlier! Several Willow Warblers hunted for insects in the reedbed as did a flycatching Blackcap and a Sedge Warbler stayed fairly well hidden.
MJ told us that the Greenshank had been on the scrape for about seven minutes and that there was a single Swift (148, 99) amongst the massed ranks of Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins.
Getting cold and hungry with no let up in the rain we wandered slowly back to the Land Rover without finding much else of note.
Back at Base Camp the sun came out and news quickly broke of another Redstart, a female, on the north side - the one we couldn't find and more impressive a Wood Warbler, very very irregular here; perhaps we left too early.
In the four hours we were there the camera was only brought out from under the coat once...to photograph a Lesser Black Backed Gull - it was only when we downloaded the pics back at Base Camp we spotted that it was ringed but it was a bit too far to be able to read the numbers.
Where to next? What will Patch 2 provide? Manx Shearwaters and other seabirds or something overhead to get us vis miggingIn the meantime let us know if you left your outback too early
* CR spotted a counting error in that we hadn't given our Arctic Tern a tally number for the nature reserve but all the birds and all the arithmetic has been checked and double checked and the numbers given for the nature reserve are correct...not that we're counting ;-)