Saturday, 1 March 2014

First Nettle stings of the year

The Safari didn't get out on safari until late afternoon today but before we tell you how we got on and what we managed to find have a look at the chart tbh there's either something horribly wrong with the data from the ice-cores or it really is very very scary, venturing headlong in totally uncharted territory blindfolded, well not quite blindfolded there's plenty of very knowledgeable peeps out there shouting "Look OUTTTTTTTT" but the numpties steering the ship are persistently refusing to heed the cry in case it rocks the boat - there wont be a boat for ffs (pardon our French) if you don't steer the right course!
BTW if you haven't read your gas, electric and water meters and recorded the readings do it now (or at least in the morning) Learn how much you are using and from that you will find out where you can cut the waste and make some savings too. Be part of the solution not the problem!
We were stuck at Base Camp with chores to do but once they were over the sun was shining strongly and we had a look at the feeders which were pretty busy with the usual small numbers of Greenfinches and Goldfinches and a trickle of Blue and Great Tits. Best of all were four, YES FOUR, House Sparrows that were in the bushes in the garden at the corner garden on our street and the main road, what a shame they flew back across the main road without finding our feeders, maybe next time but it was a real joy to hear their cheery chirruping so close to Base Camp. Hope they nest in the eaves of the corner house again this year and of course the House Sparrow nesting terrace is still available at Base Camp if they can get in before the Great Tits.
No chance of a pic of them but with the sun shining bright it was time to get the macro lens out of hibernation but what to point it at? Then we remembered we had a jar of Rosemary Beetles that had been given to us by an allotment holder last summer that we hadn't had a decent chance of doing justice too so out came the ring light and the macro lens and we fired a few shots off.
Shame they're deceased but just look at those colours and textures - we said it yesterday but we'll say it again ain't the natural world brill. And to think they're only 2-3mm long!
Our comrade in arms BD told us he was off to the nature reserve to look for the Stonechats that had were seen yesterday, after his success on our day out to the South-side then up the coast he was eager to get some pics of full sum plum males once Wifey returned from here mission we were able to get out and join him to find out if he's had any success.
At the little wetland a Heron stalked the edge of one of the ponds but turned and walked away, we thought it was because we'd stopped and looked at it but then felt a dog's muzzle trying to get in to our pocket for treat - not Frank's he wasn't with us and is better behaved than that! - probably the dog was the reason the Heron became wary.
A look under the 'tin' wasn't productive but coming back to the path DB was there to meet us, he'd had the good fortune to have seen a Small Tortoiseshell on his travels - we've not seen a butterfly yet this season.
We had a quick look at the water from the viewing platform. There wasn't a great deal to see but we did add a male Goldeneye to the day's sightings for the site. We could see a good flock of Shovelers but they were too far away to count properly with bins and we didn't have the scope today. Apparently there were 74, not a bad count will they reach the ton in the next couple of weeks? - they often do here.
We met TS coming back from his rounds and he told us he'd seen the Stonechats and a Long Eared Owl - that made our minds up off we went for the Stonechats below the embankment. As soon as we got there and scanned there they were (MMLNR #65) but a little distant, they moved further down the rough and we did our best to get ahead of them and then off the skyline. Sitting there was when we got our first Nettle stings of the year - no doubt the first of many! They remained distant and then disappeared...lucky for us that they were showing when we got there otherwise we wouldn't have seen them...stunning males both of them!
While we were watching a small flock of Linnets (MMLNR #66) flew across the field at the back. Beyond them huge numbers of Woodpigeons kept lifting but we didn't see the culprit. Fieldfares were heard chacking from the fields too.
After waiting for a good while for the Stonechats to re-show we gave up and wandered round to the where TS had told us the Long Eared Owl was. On the way we passed an acre of mud on the side of the path - now  if this was the Forest of Dean some of the locals would be up in arms demanding the death of the mud curse that is Wild Boar...we'd be far happier if this mud HAD been wallowed up by Wild Boar rather than dogs walking off the edge of the path. No-one here is baying for the sustrcution of everyone's dogs because they've made a bit of grass turn muddy - grow up and get over it down there - mud happens in the winter and in a few weeks you'll never know there was mud there in the first place - Oh and if you don't want wildlife in your gardens buy a bigger fence!
At the Long Eared Owl site was a bloke who was obviously struggling to find it as soon as we rounded the corner he was on us asking if we knew where it was. TS had told him but he was looking in the wrong place! We strolled up to what we believed to be the right place and found it within the first scan - to be fair it  was fairly well hidden low in the scrub but not impossible. By now the light was going and photography was always going to be difficult through the intervening leaves and twigs
BD is into Springtails and found a couple of tiny species on the fence rail behind us. Our eyesight isn't good enough to see them but he persisted and we put our finger near one for scale and more importantly a target. we got it but this is about as far as we can crop in - it really was tiny, the Rosemary Beetles were huge in comparison.
So there you have it - a late start but still a great day's unpredictable safari-ing and new things seen.
Where to next? we'll be out on safari again tomorrow - not sure where yet but we'll have Frank with us so it may well be the nature reserve again.
In the meantime let us know who the tiny tots are in your outback.

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