Monday, 6 May 2013

Is it really summer?

The Safari beat both Frank and the alarm clock by a few minutes this morning, throwing back the curtains we saw wall to wall sunshine - that can't be right for a Bank Holiday in Blackpool!
After Frank was fed and walked we set off for the nature reserve where the inaugural CES session was taking place. A few birds had already found the nets and hopefully they will be the start of a long series of information which, in conjunction with other survey work, will let us know how the reserve is faring compared to the national and regional results and so positively influence the management of the reserve...unless we are consistently above average in which case everything must be running smoothly...that'd be good!
We had a half hour on the viewing platform where the morning light was lovely, catching the wings of a million or more insects and the strands of gossamer left by thousands of spiderlings across the tops of the reeds.
It was really nice out there, not cold at all and with the song of hundreds of warblers filling the morning air - shame about the traffic noise even at that ridiculously early hour on a holiday. A few hirundines dropped in as did four Swifts - great to see them back, and there was no shortage of flying midges this morning to help them feed up for the next leg of their journey.
We rejoined CB and did a bit of scribing for him, in return learning amazing new stuff about (what we thought were) very familiar birds; even having a look at the juvenile tongue spots on a 1st year Reed Warbler - well you'd never see those in the field! All fascinating stuff and to think that some of the individuals only a fraction more than a One Pound coin and have traveled here from south of the Sahara.
We resolved to take a pic of the last bird of the last net round we stayed for - and out of the past bag popped a...
Female Blackcap
Heavy duty chores beckoned for the rest of the morning but after lunch we had a sneaky-peeky at the Bird Club's sighting's page and spotted that Wheatears and a Whinchat along with a pair of Garganey had been seen by the indefatigable TS earlier in the morning; later than we'd been on site but at the far end where Frank wouldn't have been able to stagger too. After chores were finished and lunch chomped we asked Wifey if we could go back out sans Frank this time.
Walking down from the wetland we met up with another David and watched countless Whitethroats going about their business, more than enough Blackcaps sang too but we couldn't hear the garden warbler that might have been heard very early in the morning. Sedge Warblers too were notably abundant, probably more than we've heard on any single day over the last three or more years, which is good as they have seemed to be in rather short supply in recent years.
Half way along we bumped into JP,  amusing as it was he we bumped in to at the (no) Lesser Scaup site yesterday. 
He's after a new camera and was asking about the capabilities of ours - so here's the Reed Bunting now heavily cropped we took at long range - OK not brilliant but you can tell it's a Reed Bunting.

Grasshopper Warbler reeled and the Cetti's Warblers blasted out. Across the field we saw the now three Wheatears and the female Whinchat. Not great views in the heat haze and the distance but good enough to bring our nature reserve total for the year to 105, only 10 short of our target and still some 'simple' ones to Skylark! Sadly there doesn't seem to be any of those in fields to the east this year.
At the hide we couldn't find the Garganeys but did see two pairs of Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Teal, two pairs of Gadwall and heard the Little Grebes whinnying.
Other David pointed out a Common Sandpiper right below us just before he had to leave
 On the way back a Sedge Warbler showed quite nicely.
Butterflies were out in full force with double figures of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshells seen along with a pair of Orange Tips with a second male later, another white sp and we're pretty sure we had a Comma but our view of it was all to brief as it disappeared into the scrub. JP had had a Holly Blue minutes before we met up with's all beginning to happen now - at last!
After the very old Willow Tree at the high school not far from work was 'removed' to make way for the rebuilding of the school this big pair of Willows, might actually be one connected underground, might well be the new current holders of the title of oldest tree in town, it/they are certainly pretty massive in the trunk department.
We saw the gulls go up in a big spiral and our thoughts turned to Osprey or Honey Buzzard, no such luck the first time it was a Heron, second time was a Sparrowhawk and this greater panic was an 'ordinary' Buzzard - no doubt the good stuff will pass over tomorrow when were tied to the desk.
A Sparrowhawk at Base Camp nearly made it onto the Garden list but missed our airspace by a few yards unlike the directly overhead Swift which became number 31 for the garden. Several Eristalis drone flies buzzed around the garden bringing much needed life and movement to the place.
Unfortunately our neighbour has weeded her garden and taken out all the Dandelions that the mining bees were feeding on...she's scalped her lawn and removed the lovely Violets (not sure which species) that were growing there too...some people seem to be terrified of wild...such a shame.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 and hopefully some of the incredible tern and skua action of the last couple of days.
In the meantime let us know what should be upsetting the gulls in your outback.

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