The Safari and our Extreme Photographer loaded our optics in to the Land Rover and drove off over the river on a quest for goosy type things and more. Our first port of call was the farmland feeding station. In the distance snow lay on the low hills and here there was an icy blast when we opened the car windows. We thought the cold might have brought some birds in but only a Robin was perched in the hedge. From the edge of the field across the ditch a male Pheasant's head poked out for a peek but would it fly across with gap or crawl down the bank and swim it...it chose the latter but didn't go straight to the seed but snuck in to the bottom of the hedge and made the final approach to the seed out of sight. Away across the fields a flock of Lapwings rose up possibly spooked by the Sparrowhawk seen a little later lurking in the big tree at the far end of the hedge.
With nothing much around we tried the other feeding station, on the way a couple of birding chums drew up and told us a herd of Whooper Swans on the way. There were a lot there!
A couple of Pink Footed Geese were also in the field. Well worth a look but we couldn't see any Bewick's Swans with them, don't think there's many in yet.
The second feeding station didn't have any food down so we turned and headed to the salt marsh. Our friends from earlier were already there and had got onto a trio of dark bellied Brent Geese (186) amongst the hordes of Pink Feet and Shelducks. Also there we found the very beautiful but very 'plastic' Red Breasted Goose, it really is a bonny thing but has a ring from a collection on it not that we could see that at the mile or so range we were watching it today. We are however looking forward to KB telling us all about their conservation in eastern Europe at the NW bird fair on Saturday.
Another birder put us on to Peregrine hunkered down on the ground trying to get out of the wind on the opposite end of the marsh. A Merlin flew past at close range giving excellent views as did a Little Egret which flopped by well within range of the cameras that had just been returned to the Land Rover for departure - how annoying!
Our next port of call was the creek that drains the farmland where the Semi-Palmated Sandpiper had been seen last week, no recent news of it in recent days though. There were Lapwings a plenty and a few Dunlin as well as a bit of a gull roost but the stars of the show were the 70 or so Twite (187) feeding close by on the edge of the marsh.
Then it was off for a warming bag of chips (fries for foreign readers hmmmm there's no comparison really) it was freezing stood out on the embankment scoping the bay. Once our fingers had warmed up on the hot food we drove round the corner to the esplanade to have a look if there were any waders on the mud flats. A huge flock of tightly packed Oystercatchers was an easy find but most of the Lapwings were snoozing sheltering amongst the clumps of Spartina grass.
A little further on a few Redshanks started to probe the mud.
Our Extreme Photographer stealthily crawled out on the marsh to get within 10 metres of them so his pics should be pretty good. He got a pic of a pipit that flew past us and landed on a patch of flotsam, he was in the process of getting set up waiting for it to show a little better when a passing dog walker leaned over the railings to see what he was pointing his camera at and flushed it further down the beach - pillock!!! We couldn't tell whether it was a Meadow or Rock Pipit from the image on the back of his camera.
From here we went back over the river to the nature reserve. The light was good but most of the birds were away along the far bank .
The light really was gorgeous, the reeds positively glowed with a fiery hue.
|This Black Headed Gull looks rather well fed!|
An hour or so in the hide was enough before we set off back to Base Camp almost taking the key with us - almost naughty!
An almost new moon was rising in an almost cloudlest sky a little later which gave us a chance to have a bash at some pics.
Not easy shooting through lots of atmosphere when it's low in the sky - seem to lose a fair bit of detail compared to when its higher up.
Today was a washout early morning and then at lunchtime the sea was crashing over the wall so no joy then either. The sun did show briefly and it was quite warm out of the wind. The prolific flowers on the False Castor Oil plant, Fatsia japonica, by the cafe doors had attracted a couple of Muscidae flies.
Where to next? Hopefully the wind will have died down a bit tomorrow to bring Patch 2 back into play.
In the meantime let us know what the chilly the wind is blowing in in your outback. There's a bit of a roundabout clue to an indoor adventure later in the week in there somewhere. The answer my friends will be revealed on Saturday.