Saturday, 15 February 2014

Out at the wrong time

The Safari was hoping to get out for a couple or three hours today but it didn't quite turn out that way. 
Wifey had an appointment just after lunch and that gave us the opportunity to go to the nature reserve until the call came telling it was time to pick her up. So off we went to the the mature reserve, unloaded Frank, unlocked the hider got inside and them WHAM the heavens opened in a monster squall. This wasn't the sunny spells promosed by a mulittude of weather forecast websites. The hide door kept blowing open, the rain continued to fall and Frank curled up in a tight ball against the chilly draught whipping through the viewing slats...not a nice afternoon at all.
There was only one thing to do - count what we could see cos we weren't going anywhere in that! 
So count we did, starting with the Coots, bearing in mind we could only see half the water from our position but we still got 121 of the little black darlings. The wind was blowing slightly across the mere and into our face to the area we couldn't see would be about the most exposed so there mightn't have been too many more. Still well over a ton is a good count for mid-winter, wonder how many were on the nearby park lake, that's much more sheltered there could be a good number on there too. No gulls were on the water which was disappointing and the numbers of diving sucks this season are pathetic with just 22 Tufted Ducks and three Goldeneyes and no Pochards.
Dabblers were well represented by over 200 Teal, plenty more unseen no doubt and a few Mallards lurking very hopefully at the kiddies duck feeding area
Female Teal after a rainstorm
The recent winds and rain have done some serious reed flattening and something we've not seen for a while was evident this afternoon. A post we put in probably a little over a decade ago to mark the outer edge of the reedbed and give Kingfishers a place to perch. It's now so seep withing the reedbed the Kingfishers will never find it! It's about 2/3rds the way to the outer edge from the bank now.
Getting cold and running out of things to count we decided to have a drive round to the SE corner and check if there were any unseen gulls there - yep we're desperate to get that Iceland Gull on our Nature Reserve year list! No gulls but a streak of brown flew over the car and seemed to land somewhere round the corner. We thought it might have landed on the CCTV camera pole but it wasn't there...well it was but not at the very top where we might have expected. Kestrel (MMLNR #62)
Best we could do at the limit of the camera's range on a miserable day.
Nearer we watched the Moorhens going about their business, stunning but often overlooked little birds.

 Nearly got them to be a pair of bookends!

Enough was enough the rain kept coming the wind continued to bluster Frank had had enough and so had we. On the off chance we drove round to the Iceland Gull's favourite waste depot but there were no gulls there, probably the last load of the weekend had been delivered and they knew it. We tried the nearby fast-food outlets but no gulls there either.
Slushy sleety hail was now falling so back to a warming brew at Base Camp we went. And then wouldn't you believe it the sun started to come out. By the time we got Frank indoors the sun was streaming through the kitchen window - would you believe it!!!
Got some ideas for a little project for the next few weeks with our Extreme Photographer out of the visit though. Could be good if it comes off - watch this space.
Where to next? Looks to be a better day maybe the best we've had for some time so we'll be back at the nature reserve for another look...but then a possible/probable Thayer's Gull not toooo far away if it turns out to a deffo we could be seriously tempted despite the expense.
In the meantime let us know who's bookending in your outback
PS Don't forget we're leading some events for youngsters over the half-term next week. Details here

No comments: