Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Good day all round

The Safari had an early physio appointment this morning so missed out on Patch 2 which was a shame cos news on the desk when we arrived at it there was a message telling us of what wee think is the first Grey Seal of the year along our coast, a Red Breasted Merganser and some Little Gulls, a tidy little pre-work haul for SD.
Our walk back to the car park from the hospital gave us a clump of Winter Aconite coming in to flower.
The rail the gulls sit on along the lake edge is just about near enough to check them without the naked eye, lots of Black Headed Gulls, a handful of Common Gulls plenty of Herring Gulls but no sign of the Mediterranean Gull that's been seen in there a few times recently.
Our brief lunchtime session could hardly have been better, it's not everyday the first birds you see are a couple of Little Gulls and a Kittiwake. Three more Little Gulls moved through - by eck they're bonny! Five or six hundred Common Scoters showed how calm it was but we could only find three Great Crested Grebes and half a dozen Red Throated Divers. A speck of black and white was a distant unidentified auk and we did find a nearer Guillemot. Needless to say we were quite happy with that little lot for our 20 minute watch...the Grey Seal would have been the icing on the cake.
Minutes after going back in we were out again, this time on route to the nature reserve via the little wetland for lead a guided walk. 
We waited by the gate in glorious sunshine while a gentle shower passed over giving us a splendid rainbow to enjoy. A male Kestrel worked the wetland, resplendent in the sunshine. Scanning watching him we spotted a distant Bumble Bee and then saw a stump ended squat medium sized bird shooting over the houses, didn't get the bins on it but the first thing that came to mind was a Woodcock! Whatever it was the local Feral Pigeons weren't impressed and flushed off the rooftops.
A wander across the wetland didn't produce any Snipe of any kind which was unusual but three Meadow Pipits popped up out of the long grass.
Making our way to the reserve we heard Great Spotted Woodpecker calling, Woodpigeons singing  and Long Tailed Tits buzzing about unseen.
The reserve was louder still with Song Thrushes, Chaffinches, more Woodpigeons and a couple of sporadic Cetti's Warblers all in song. The warm sunshine, lack of wind and birdsong made it feel very spring like out there.
We watched the water having a look at the waterfowl, a very nice mix with FW's Pintails being STILL present three pairs and a single male, 58 Shoveler was a good count, three female and a male Goldeneye, loads of uncounted Wigeon, 100+, and even more Teal but most of them were hidden in the reeds.
Three Great Crested Grebes had argy-bargy and the Coots have started their chases but we didn't see any fights breaking out.
We kept checking the gulls gradually increasing the count of Lesser Black Backed Gulls (MMLNR #63) to 23 and then we spotted the jackpot, the local Iceland Gull! (MMLNR #64) It came into bathe unseen and stayed at least 20 minutes giving good but distant views and poor record shots.
Enough of the gulls, try as we might we couldn't find a Mediterranean Gull we wander off down the path to see if we could find the Long Eared Owl. We stopped on the semi-circle of grassland that hasn't been cut and raked yet but we still managed to find some Bee Orchid rosettes within a few feet of each other.
Coltsfoot was also coming into flower nearby.
No sign of the Long Eared Owl(s) though and we were helped by a couple of other birders. We gave it a concerted effort to no avail and moved on, now we had a decision to make do we go round to view the lake again  or cut up round the back of the reserve to have a look for the Long Eared Owls from the back-side. Before we had the chance to make that call we saw a white thing flit over the embankment towards the sopping wet fields to the east and our brain picked out Little Egret from the memory reappeared closer and in profile, a cracking Barn Owl. Now the chase was on to get good prolonged views of it and maybe a pic or joy it had done one probably across the thick hedge to the next field to the north. Nice to see them in the middle of the afternoon but it does mean they're struggling to find enough scram which isn't so good.
Round at the second Long Eared Owl spotting place we couldn't find it/them there either but we did see some Blackthorn in flower.
Spring is deffo trying to get the upper-hand, further on we found more evidence of the perennial of battle the seasons. Hawthorn buds opening...
More singing Song Thrushes, Robins and Dunnocks completed the spring-like scene.
What a great afternoon for a safari! Full of great sightings and surprises.
Where to next? More Patch 2 and hopefully a Dolphin (= Harbour Porpoises) watch tomorrow afternoon.

In the meantime let us know if spring is doing its best to sprung in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

Remember this time last year Davyman - not a bud or flower to be seen it was so cold!

Nice Icelandic Gull :-)

Anonymous said...

Spring is definitely showing signs that it`s not far away now, Dave.

cliff said...

The Iceland Gull was a great find Dave. I had hoped to nip to the Mere myself yesterday aft - but had too much work to do so didn't make it - missed out on the sunshine & the Iceland Gull :-(