Monday, 3 February 2014

Stayed dry for World Wetlands Day

The  Safari and young LCV had a great day out yesterday up in more northerly reaches of Safariland. We started out before it became light to get to our first port of call for daybreak. It was raining on and off on the way and it was pretty chilly but we were hopeful. 
The sky was ominous as we pulled up but we pulled on our boots, well he did we'd already realised we'd left our wellies at work on Friday - dohhh. We had a look at the trees around the feeding station and soon added Bullfinch (94) to our year list. The feeding station became busier as birds woke up and began to feed. But the rain also woke up and while we were ambling around the site scanning the tree-tops for incoming birds we endured a couple of short sharp showers. Nuthatch (95) soon fell but there was no sign of our special quarry. LCV's eyes were as sharp as a hawks and he picked out a limping Fox away across the fields. A Jay (96) was found by LCV hiding tucked away still half a sleep in the ivy in a large tree.  The rain had us running back to the car. The car park is bordered by a low mound to keep the cars off the grass which is where we were advised we should spread some seed as bait. A Raven (97) cronked as it flew over and LCV picked out a pigeon flying away which turned out to be a Stock Dove, a year bird for him.
We were armed with the best part of half a ton of seed which we scattered across the top of the mound and then sat back and waited for the action to begin. It didn't take long - in they came in numbers! Chaffinches, Robins, Blackbirds, Nuthatches, Bullfinches and more but not the s*ddin Hawfinches!
Male Blackbird
Female Bullfinch
Male Bullfinch
Female Chaffinch
Two hours we sat there gassing about this and that and the price of fish while watching the half a ton of seeds becoming very rapidly a quarter of a ton then an eighth of a ton! but still no sign of the elusive Hawfinches.
So we cut our losses and retraced our steps a few miles to the ever popular wetland reserve to the south. The estuarine half of the reserve was so wet on thee hide tides that it was under water and consequently out of bounds! Welly-less we feared the worst but thankfully the paths were mostly dry with just the odd avoidable puddle, we hadn't been looking forward to a day of wet cold feet!
The first objective was the small matter of locating a Firecrest that our mate DC had seen a couple of days previously - seemed like half of the Fylde Bird Club had the same idea, lots of familiar faces were pacing the track.
No joy there so time to look over the water. Two Marsh Harriers (98) were seen quickly, one of which performed rather well. A flight of Grey Lag Geese filled the sky rather spectacularly and came in to land on the water in front of us but otherwise waterfowl were a bit thin on the 'ground', this 'short-stopping' of migration routes has really dented the Pochard and some other duck species numbers round here. Goldeneye too are low in numbers so when two appeared we were pleased to see them but the third bird behind them was the long staying Long Tailed Duck (99).
Time for another look for the invisible Firecrest; Goldcrests were found but not the bonnier one. Moving on to the next hide we were a bit concerned to see ginormous machinery right outside the window.
What's going on? Well we'd have known if we'd bothered to read in the information posted on the hide door when we first went through it.
Didn't take us long to find our quarry species here, there wasn't many ducks to work through! Scaup (100).
2nd Cal yr male Scaup with Tufted Ducks and two Coots
A couple of waterfowl scurries had us searching for the Otter against the reed edge but to no avail. They are about as another birder pointed out some spraint on the bridge over the causeway.
No we didn't lick it to make sure, we took the lads word for it!
Also along the causeway was this little beaut - the other half of the machinery...ohhh what we'd do for a drive of that!
The Kingfisher wasn't there either so we went back for another look at the invisible Firecrest but found some Siskins instead.
We wandered down to the farthest two hides to look for the Red Deer. On the way down we spotted a couple of bits of orange peel lying on the moss, not orange peel in fact but Scarlet Elf Cup fungi - wot little beauties! 
The light down at the hide was superb on the waterfowl there.
Female Teal
Male Teal

No sign of the Red Deer unfortunately but the walk back gave us a bathing Marsh Tit (101) and another. 
Treecreepers were the order of the day too with LCV having the monopoly on finding them, he musta had about 10 to our one and he spotted that only 0.000001 of a second after we'd called it. No close or in the light enough for a pic tho.
Still no sign of the invisible Firecrest but the friendly Robin we've photographed on previous visits was playing out again.
(S)he didn't like Frank's rice cake treats one little bit!
We spent the last our back in the machinery hide hoping for a glimpse of the Otter or a Bittern. Instead we got a lesson in aerobatics from a pair of Peregrines sat in a tree being hounded by a pair of Marsh Harriers - superb.
To be honest we very rarely see Peregrines sat in trees and this was the first time we'd ever seen two sat in a tree together. Only last week our arch year-listing rival Monika posted this! Well he had to go one better but couldn't get the pictorial evidence...unless LCV managed a digiscoped shot of them.
All too soon we ran out of light and had to head back down the motorway  to Base Camp tired but happy.
Today was mostly like this
But on the way to work we had to get fuel for the Land Rover which took us past the playing field where we expected to get another year bird; they weren't there but they were at the traffic lights a hundred yards further on, three Rooks (102).
A very fresh wind greeted us on Patch 2 as did nearly 1000 gulls on the beach working through the most recent shellfish wreck. They were a little too distant and the keen wind somehow put us off staying out to work through them! 
We didn't get out at lunchtime unfortunately.
A great weekend in great company.
Where to next? More chilly Patch 2 gulls probably.
In the meantime let us know if there's been an invisible stuff in your outback.


Stuart Price said...

Wow......otther s**t!

cliff said...

Sounds like a top day out Dave. Shame the Hawfinch were a no show.

Nice set of photos, the 1st Marsh tit & the Robin on the post are my pick of the pics.

Warren Baker said...

Some good birds for the year list davyman, and some good photo's of 'em too :-)