The Safari has been out all day today and 16 hours after meeting up with mah boy we're sitting here typing away still soggy!
We drove two hours down the motorway leaving Base Camp just after 05.00 meeting LC for seven and first having a look at three Common Terns another birder had told us about. When we scanned the reservoir we found a fourth! Loads of hirundines including several dozen House Martins but very few Swifts.
Then it was off to an increasingly wet Cannock Chase. We had some target birds and other wildlife but from the moment we set out we realised that some or all of these were going to be a struggle.
Anyway before walking too far we heard a Tree Pipit (168) we looked at the tops of the nearest trees until LC called out it was singing from a much nearer low tree stump. we enjoyed close views and a little more song until it walked over the back of the stump and was lost from view. minutes later a bird shot across the track in front of us and it landed on a distant tree and called...a Cuckoo (169), in fave despite the rain the remainder of the day at almost all sites we were accompanied by the song of several Cuckoos - just a brilliant soundtrack for such an otherwise miserable day.
|Can you tell it's a Cuckoo?|
Unsurprisingly in the heavy rain the hoped for Woodlarks and Crossbills didn't put in an appearance called . A Green Woodpecker called in the distance and a Jay flew over but very little else was seen or heard...all the while we were on the look out for artifacts lying on the ground in the heathland which could provide a refuge for Adders, Slow Worms or other reptiles...but no so far...time to move on to another site.
Another wet walk ensued this time on the hunt for a Pied Flycatcher or two. The woods here at this second site were absolutely devoid of birdlife. So now soaked to the skin we headed back to the car and the flask of hot coffee. A different route back gave us a little purple patch of a few trees inhabited by a nice selection of birds including a very nice pair of Wood Warblers, a pair of Treecreepers, a Nuthatch, Great Tits, and a Spotted Flycatcher and continuous calling Cuckoo - all good stuff!!!
Our next stop had us venturing through some very wet and drippy Ancient Woodland. Some of the Oaks are very old pollards, we were remiss and didn't look to see if they were Sessile or Pedunculate Oaks.
|ISO just plain silly!|
Many of the larger Silver Birches had Birch Polypore brackets sticking out of them but one had a rather large Hoof Fungus...always a trear.
We identified an old broken dead tree which looked 'just bob on' for a Redstart...we saw a bit of movement in the canopy nearby, a Chaffinch, another movement was a Treecreeper and another a Nuthatch but then guess who came to the party - Yes a male Redstart with food...a nest - told you it looked a good bet! We used the time he was away foraging to gain a bit of ground and get a little closer without causing any disturbance - not something we wanted to do on such a poor day.
Wandering further down the track gave us a woodpecker's nest almost definitely Great Spotted Woodpecker but better than that was the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (170) we heard calling from the other side of the stream.
Double wet now we called it quits here and aimed for our butties and a conflab about what to do next; give up or try another wet site.
Butties were quickly chomped and we easily decided to have a bash at another site for the chance of Dartford Warblers. Finding the site was a bit tricky and we discovered later that we failed by a couple of parking areas. We had a look around in very heavy rain so even if we had been in the right place chances of seeing them would have been very very very slim. We did however get our best most prolonged views of Green Woodpecker that we've had for a long time, shame it was far too wet to get the camera out.
A look at the watch revealed it was time to head back up the motorway - well we hadn't seen everything we'd hoped for but given the weather conditions we'd had a really good day out with LC...and we have a good excuse to have to go back later in the year.
The next two hours was spent negotiating one of the most atrocious drives we've ever done with visibility down to the end of the bonnet at times. Thankfully we made it back to Base Camp in one piece...good old Land Rover!
Where to next? still got a coule of days left before we go back to work and anything could happen and anywhere could be visitited.
In the meantime let us know if the rain let up in your outback.
LATE EDIT - Just found out that the flippin Jet Stream has made temperatures in Finland, only 1200 miles away, soar to an unprecedented 30C+, melting their tarmac it's so hot...their average for this time of year is the same as our about 15C...the swines; why can't we have some of that?