The Safari set off on a very mild and blustery morning to do our regular Winter Thrushes survey. It wasn't long before we realised we didn't need the hat or the gloves - it was almost tropical out there! But birds were very few and far between on our walk up to our start point, just a few Magpies and the usual Robins. As we got closer we could hear a Mistle Thrush singing in the tops of the trees but couldn't see him, not a bad start and promise of things to come?
It was but not in the way we hoped. The Mistle Thrushes colloquial name is the Storm Cock and today was a perfect example of how that name came about. As the survey continued with us jotting down just a few Blackbirds the wind was steadily increasing and the sky darkening only to be rent by a huge flash of lightning to the north - the way we were going.
Hang on a minute - are we in the right month? Our calendar and a million Christmas lights are telling is its nearly the end of December but just before sunrise the temperature should be a lot lower than 11C and we don't normally get thunderstorms in mid winter - do we? Something was telling us we were about to get a soaking...or worse!
The weather thankfully was pushed away by the wind and we stayed dry as the sun came up. Cormorant flew over breaking the monotony of not a lot of Blackbirds.
A little further along the route we came across Alder catkins and then a few yards further on Rowan buds swollen and ready to burst.
Round at the isolated pond a trio of squabbling Great Spotted Woodpeckers was heard and then seen and then a little later drumming was heard.
Another couple of rumbles of thunder were heard and the sky was getting as black as the obs of hell, a soaking was looking inevitable and we had the big expanse of the footy field to cross. None of KBs colour ringed Black Headed Gulls were there in the throng of mixed gulls.
It was now a race to complete the survey before getting wet, almost unfortunate we weren't delayed by many Blackbirds and our final bird was another singing Mistle Thrush.
We did make it back to Base Camp dry but only with a few seconds to spare!
A daytime watch of the feeders gave us a reasonable bag. Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, Great Tits, a Blue Tit, a Robin, a Chaffinch, a Greenfinch maybe more than one and a Dunnock. Quite pleased with that lot. Amazing what's about when it's light enough to see it.
Around Base Camp there was more unseasonality in the form of flowering Quaking Grass blowing around in the now strong wind
and another Ceanothus flower has opened.
As you can see it was pretty dark at mid-day.
Where to next? Might be back in a bit cos we've got to brave the weather and go and lift the stealth-cam for what's happening tomorrow but for the gen on that you might have to wait until Monday, dunno yet.
In the meantime let us know what season it's not supposed to be in your outback.