Monday, 12 May 2014

The Scent of May

The Safari was on the road a fraction before 07.00 heading to a nature reserve at the other end of the motorway. This is one we've been visiting on and off for the best part of 25 years, more frequently when we lived nearer although it wasn't a reserve then but still a working quarry. The plan weas to do something we've neot done there before - walk all the way round!
First up we headed for the larger of the two lakes with the big island in it. There was a decent selection of waders. Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers aplenty. But were there any others?
You lookin at me?
Of course there were, Common Sandpipers (151) all over the place and displaying for fun, later we'd see some mating action.
A Whimbrel poked its streipey face above the Ox-eye Daisies in the middle of the island - too far for a proper pic. 
It was superb out there, rain had threatened but it blew over leaving a mild morning in its wake. The heady scent of May blossom filled the air, shame most of the hedges between the fields we saw along the motorway have been flailed to death and showed little signs of the lovely white flowers. Everywhere Wrens, Dunnocks, Song Thrushes,  Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats sang. Turning the corner we walked along the side of the lake parallel to the motorway, the roar of rush hour traffic was loud but our ears soon became accustomed to it or blotted it out to hear the birdsong instead. 
We didn't see anything of real note from the hide beyond the hide except for a Whitethroat working its way through the bushes to one side. While we were watching that something tickled our eye and we could make out a shape far to close to see properly. Putting the bins down the culprit was an Alderfly.
A Roe Deer doe burst out of the Nettles only a few yards from us and bounded into the nearby copse at the bottom of the motorway embankment.
Following the way it we went in to the woods where the air became cool and dame for a p, it was really verdant in there, the slope to our left being clothed in Ancient Woodland complete with huge Wild Cherry trees.
Everywhere around was the sound of Blackcaps and Wrens, the place was alive with these two species. Several mature trees had crashed down in recent storms their shallow root plates showing how the roots can't penetrate the heavy clay too easily. One of the cleared stumps had a lovely Black Slug slithering its way across it.
Did you spot the hitchhiker?
A jogger ran past and a few paces further on we saw something twitch through the trees a few yards away, despite its size if it hadn't have moved we might not have seen it. A lovely Roe Buck.
Looks like he's got a Bluebell stuck on his head!?!
But no, wait a minute he's getting up he was lying down and the Bluebell was 'normal' sized.
 Time for one more look at us.
 What a stunning animal and only two miles from the City Centre,and he had a friend. He walked off up the hill out of sight gave a little bark and his mate appeared out of seemingly nowhere, gave us  glance and then promptly followed him.
We continued on our merry way coming out of the woods and back into the meadow area where three Longhorn Cattle graze top keep the area in ti[ top condition for breeding waders.
Talking of waders we had another look at the lake and found an Avocet sitting,watching for a few minutes another arrived and we witnessed an intimate change over ritual even seeing the tops of the eggs. If we'd have told yu 10 years ago we'd be watching
Sand  Martins and Swifts cruised overhead as it warmed up, a pair of Swifts mating in mid-air.
Further scanning of the island gave us a sitting Little Ringed Plover (152) right on our photo limits.
Also strutting around the margins was a a pair of dapper Dunlins and the most gorgeous summer plumaged Turnstone which we were unable to refind for another birder although we did get him on to the Avocets, a lifer for him.
All too soon it was time to leave, we could have easily spent another four or five hours here cos we still haven't ventured deep in to the Ancient Woodland area.
Not much happened for the rest of the day other than household chores until we checked our emails to find our Extreme Photographer had sent us a couple of pics.
Ant's face - practise shoy
His female Dunnock pretending to be a male Mandrill by the looks of it
Enough excitement for one day!
Where to next? Not sure what's happening tomorrow but the mothy is on.
In the meantime let us know how far round your outback you got today.


cliff said...

An excellent haul there Dave, looks like a really top day out. I've only ever been the once, which was 3 years ago almost to the day - I know this 'cos I have a Banded Demoiselle photograph from the trip - dated 10/5/11.

When you say "Of course there were Common Sandpipers" - I take it Brockholes is a good site for them then?

I'm very envious of the Sandpiper & Roe deer shots - Jane & I are off on Friday & the forecast is good - I wonder if I can convince her?

Fine shots from Raf too.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Saw no damsels of any type but I was there early morning.
C Sands were all over the shop - at least a dozen or more