The Safari wasn't inclined to go out in the heavy rain this morning but waited until it brightened up a bit with the sun even threatening to break through the hazy cloud at one point.
But where to go? We had Frank to look after, the reason for our day off in the first place, and after his exertions yesterday a long walk was going to be out of the question so we decided to go to the big park again and see if the ringed birds we saw the other day were still there and could we find any more.
Getting out of the car we heard a Mistle Thrush singing, nice but a tad early? Having said that it is so mild that the Council are still cutting the grass verges along the roadsides - it's mid-December - what's going on...some might call it climate change! It was 9 1/2 C above the long term minimum daily average here the other morning, now one day in one place doesn't mean a thing but lots of days in lots of places added to other forms of evidence starts mount up and points the proverbial finger fairly and squarely at us...take note Donald Trump who said cos it's a bit colder than 'normal' in the USA 'global warming' has stopped,,,well let us tell you DT we're a few degrees of latitude further north than the 49th parallel here and it is without a doubt quite warm for the time of year, there's still the odd Bumble Bee flying round and our Ceanothus bush has started to flower - only five months too early!.
Being Monday there were far fewer people about but still folks out chilling with the wildlife around the lake. A couple of families with pre-school toddlers were enjoying the Feral Pigeon and Mallard fest and Frank was getting in to Grey Squirrel spotting/chasing/woofing at mode, never seen him move so fast for months.
We mozied on down to the lake where it didn't take long to spot Coot A74, it was with the Mallards expecting bread! A thorough check of the other friendly Coots revealed not a sinfgle ring between them.
The family feeding the ducks a little way off had attracted a fair sized crowd of Black Headed Gulls but none sported any bling. 4FC will likely turn out to be from Denmark.
With all the near stuff checked we wandered down past to boathouse to have a look at the gulls roosting on the rail. Here we saw three Cormorants hauled out and got ear ache of an elderly gentleman claiming they'd eaten all the fish in the lake, to which the response was that if they had they wouldn't be there so there must be some left. Thinking about it although we don't visit the park much we don't recall seeing many Cormorants in the water fishing, yes there are often several on the rail chilling out and a large roost develops in the evening but we don't often see them with their wings outstretched in the post swimming drying stance...maybe they have eaten all the fish...maybe we should visit more often.
We'd wasted too much time on A74 and lost the best of the light although the Cormorants still looked metallic they didn't shimmer as we'd seen them do a few minutes earlier form afar. Studied closely in the 'right' light they are simply stunning birds...As are Mallards, no wonder they are popular with the kids looking like this and being super-friendly coming very close for a proper good look at those ultra-fine vermiculations.
We had a good close look at the gulls standing on the rail, almost all were Black Headed Gulls as usual and two had standard BTO type rings but were far too far away to be able to be read.
We could see a lot more gulls on the northern half of the lake so we dragged Frank that way but there were none on the rail that separates the conservation area from the main lake, all were sat in the water out towards the middle with no chance of even seeing a leg never mind a ring - note to self...take bread next time! The Coot were all too far out too, we didn't count them but there must have been well over 50 out there.
Of note were several Gadwall here, they seem to have forsaken the nature reserve in favour of this more sheltered lake in recent months.
Retracing our steps brought us back to the boathouse where we saw this rather unusually patterned hybrid thingy.
Don't think we've seen one quite like that before so what is it? Well Mallards are notorious for being rampantly sexual so it could be anything but is Mallard x Cormorant stretching the imagination a little too far?
It can't be possible but don't you think the resemblance is just a bit too scary to contemplate.
Arriving back at Base Camp another Mistle Thrush was singing in the distance as we unloaded Frank - light/temperature/weather conditions must have got them all in the mood for a bit of warbling this arvo.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow - hope there's some decent visibility for a change.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the hybridisation they shouldn't be in your outback.