Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Little hands sharp eyes

The Safari had a quick look over the dropping tide and saw just one Bar Tailed Godwit today sitting with five Oystercatchers on the only exposed bit of sandbank.
Out to sea we had a couple of Great Crested Grebes, lots of very distant Common Scoters with about a dozen close ones, a Red Throated Diver and five auk sps.
No chance of a lunchtime look as we had to high tail it to school to take a class out safari-ing on the nature reserve.
Getting on site the excited masses shot off in all directions armed with their pots - mid November isn't the best time to do this activity but at least it was warm in the afternoon sunshine. What was remarkable was the number of pairs of brand new wellies - it would seem most kids don't own a pair and had to be bought them specially...wonder if that'll be true for the next two classes.
They settled down into exploring mode soon enough and started bringing their finds. A Frog was scared half to death and hopped off out of reach, a Fox's run was sniffed to find out if had been used recently.
A number of unidentifiable tiny spiders were brought to us for inspection, one was IDd as a Long Jawed Spider.
Then we heard a big cry go up - caterpillar!!!
What a whopper it was!
We showed them what grasses look like if left to flower rather than being mown every week like their school field and they brought in other leaves from Black Knapweed, Ribwort Plantain, Marsh Ragwort, Common Sorrel, Curled Dock, Common Vetch and more; all of which have a tale to be told.
Then one of them said they'd found gold in a hole...???
Wow a Bumble Bee's nest - looks like a Fox might have had its nose in it - we've opened it a bit more for the photo. Not sure which species of bee but one was found and taken back to school so might get put on iSpot.
There was a Black Lipped Baned Snail lurking in there too.
They were getting good at looking by now and started to find smaller less mobile wildlife like these small fungi growing on a dead log
Another hairy caterpillar was gingery wrangled on a leaf - those hairs are poisonous you know!
We weren't expecting to find Pussy Willow so well advanced - we've only had one light frost so far, these look like they're not far off bursting forth!
A tiny pretty little fungus was found, a Coral Fungus we think
An egg caused some amusement, for some reason they thought it was a Woodpecker's but much more likely a Woodpigeon's. They we interested to learn a chick hatched out of it rather than it being predated.
Lots of other good stuff was found including a Green Leaf Hopper.
After school we went back to the other side of the nature reserve to see if we could find the Long Eared Owls - not in their 'usual' place and too much vegetation still on the far side. But we did hear a report of a 'dark' owl flying past a dog walker late evening the other day...hmm interesting!
The Barn Owl wasn't showing in it's box's porch either.
It was good to see PL out and about again camera in hand.
Not a lot was about, a flock of Long Tailed Tits, a small number of Snipe, A couple of eejits hunting the east fields with a Goshawk which flushed a flock of 15 Fieldfares but ignored them.
There's not many Starlings coming in to roost yet but 25 or more Linnets flew over us on their way to their roost.
Some of the Apple trees haven't had all their fruit plunder by light-fingered humans allowing this light-beaked Carrion Crow to enjoy one.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 in the morning.
In the meantime let us know who's finding the good stuff in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

Let's hope the enthusiasm showed by the kids stays with them into adulthood davyman! :-)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Doing my very best to make that a reality Warren