The Safari spent the latter part of a rare dry morning with Wifey and a chainsaw reducing one of our reserve piles of wood to a size suitable for firewood; Wifey's becoming a dab-hand with the old chainy now and it's good to have the the wood-store refilled. There's plenty more to cut and we'll get round to stacking it properly when we have a bit more time. Have to saw mega thanx to DB for this stash
After a late lunchtime visit by the M-i-L we were able to get out for the second half of the afternoon. But where to go? We had the idea of going to the nature reserve but had a last minute change of heart and decided to head north to see if the tip-off LCV had received last Monday from a passing dog walker. So north it was and we parked up but it was way too windy for our quarry and perhaps a bit too bright with the sun still out!!!!!!!
We drove a mile further on and parked up at the start of the golf course where loads of goodies have been lurking recently.
We had a couple of targets in mind, one was really to (tongue in cheek) 'get one over' on ace photographer BD. It's been seen there on and off for ages so we were hopeful. Off we trotted scanning the fence posts every few paces. The short turf of the course had half a dozen Skylarks, nothing unusual there but beyond them was a similar number of Turnstones, not their normal habitat by a long stretch.
Also o the grass but much less out of place were a number of Oystercatchers.
On we went still scanning the posts ahead of us without success. Soon we ran out of posts to scan and thought we'd best have a look on the boating lake.
None of our target for here either, this safari was beginning to turn into a dippers nightmare! But we did get a chance to photograph some gulls.
Plenty more Turnstones on the lawns here too, many of which were running amongst the gulls coming to bread being heaved around in gay abandon by a couple of punters. Couldn't see any that were colour marked by the local ringers though.
To view the other lake we had to climb up and over the bank and on to the bridge. A quick scan revealed a few gulls a handful of Mallards and just one other bird well away from all the others, a female Red Breasted Merganser (105). She was coming our way but diving frequently. Too far from the top of the bridge so while she was under we scrambled down the bank a bit, up and down she went. We scrambled down to the water's edge well below the skyline and she should be much closer. Damn we were just getting in to the most comfortable position and were still moving about when up she popped right close to the edge, saw us and fled - drat drat and double drat!!!
Nothing for it but to retrace our steps and hope it had landed on the first lake...phew it had! But not as new as earlier and now a bit more wary swimming away as we approached anywhere near the water's edge and we'd lost the bright sunshine now.
Now we were walking back to the Land Rover via the row of fence posts. Again no luck to start with, then a flit on the grass, dohh four Linnets (106) so not so much dohh as yeah. And then we saw a bird-like silhouette on the top of the bushes in front of us, ohh this was tuening out to good after all. We snuck sneakily by to get the light right side of us for the all important pic only to find it was a bit of litter! Serves us right for trying to gloat. Still there were hundreds of posts still to check. In the distance we could see a couple of other birders pointing and binning something, were we going to be in luck. As we approached they ushered us closer and showed us a cracking little Snow Bunting on the far side of a puddle in the track - excellent! As we lifted the camera it flew off over the mound beside us an into the rough at the side of the golf course...drat drat and double drat!
Back we went to the rough fields to have a look for our other quarry as the afternoon moved towards dusk. We sat there with the Land Rover shaking in the wind for over half an hour without success so called it a day.
As luck would have it a glance at the FBC website back at Base Camp showed us the 'bad' news that the Stonechat had been seen during the day and offshore, where we didn't look at all, there was a flock of almost 20 Little Gulls! No sign of the recent Twite either.
To rub salt in the wounds we were txtd about a Ross's Gull at the reserve we were at last week with LCV - shine a light that's cruel! The young un could have offered us a lift!!!!!!!!!!
All told a decent couple of hours on safari but certainly no silver lining.
Where to next? Sadly to busy at work this week to go gulling and twitching - the Yellow Rumped Warbler is far to far to be worth bothering with - nice bird though, we could walk round Patch 2 for a million years before one of those turned up there.
In the meantime let us know who's sitting on the fence in your outback.