The Safari didn't get to the coast this morning, too wet again and the wind had perhaps a smidgin too much north to make it worth while.
The garden was lively after we'd put some mealworms down. The Collared Doves still preferred the sunny seeds though and looked a bit bemused to find mostly mealies..
A Magpie showed much more interest in the worms and carried off beakfuls to its nest in the tall Poplar trees at the end of the street, inside the nest must be like being on a small galleon in a rough sea this week as the trees are really being shaken around in the wind.
Now when the two met at the feed tray what do you think was going to happen? We assumed that the Magpie would take the lead and flush off the dove but no the Collared Dove drove off the Magpie, gave it really short shrift and forced it to linger around the fringes with its crown feathers raised like a Jay - one not very happy Magpie! Never realised Collared Doves were so fierce around food.
|Taken through the double glazing|
After all the garden shenanigans we got out and decided to go to look for some Dippers on a local river a little way inland. The usual riverside picnic spot was full to busting by the time we got there, nearly an hour to do 15 miles or so! We drove straight past and went to a much quieter section where we had the place more or less to ourselves apart from another birder who was watching the Pied and Grey Wagtails catching flies under the bridge.
He left and we wandered further down the stream, lovely it was just the sound of the water, which was very high after all the heavy rain we've had and going to make Dippering hard work, birdsong and the flippin motorway traffic only a mile away.
The laneside wildflowers were nice though, not many Blluebells down here but plenty of Ramsons aka Wild Garlic and some Red Campion starting to show now.
A cacophony of alarm calls caught our attention and we immediately thought eh-up Tawny Owl, excellent. We found a Blackbird chattering away and sure enough hidden in the Ivy not far away was the cause of all the attention - a female Sparrowhawk - dohhh...but worth a pic so we raised the camera and it flew off - dohhh.
A tree on the far side of the river had a large hole in to which a Jackdaw was peering in but it flew off. We hung around for ages waiting for it to come back but it didn't.
While waiting for the Jackdaw to return a Dipper flew swiftly along the river and round a bit of a bend out of sight which was our cue to go. It took a bit of persuasion to get Frank to his feet cos he'd walk a fair way, further than he's been for ages and had a bit of a paddle and swim in the river so he was pooped but he did get to his feet and toddled on. Rounding the bend there was the Dipper (150) stood on the only rock exposed above the waters in the middle of the stream.
We walked on and it walked into the water but fortunately came out again and remained on the rock for a few minutes as we got closer.
Still not quite close enough though but there was good bankside cover and we used it to good effect to get very close, it was now only a matter of a few metres away, cautiously we raised the camera when a couple of walkers dressed in the brightest garb you can imagine came by from the other direction and flushed it - dohhh...we didn't see it again.
We waited by the bridge in case it came back again but a horrendous rain shower came on and we gave up and dashed back to the Land Rover.
Where to go next? We had thought to go to a site where Garden Warblers are regularly found but with Frank pretty much bushed already that was now out. We made for a nearby former gravel quarry where we hoped to see Little Ringed Plover(s). we found plenty of Swifts and heard our first screamers of the season, plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins swooping low over the water too, but not many House Martins. The only waders present were a couple of pairs of Lapwings and a pair of Oystercatchers. Bird of the site was a Common Tern sat on a stone at the end of one of the muddy spits until a second came in from the canal calling and it rose to meet it but after a quick fly round the second bird flew back to the canal and the first went back to sitting on the pebble.
Time to move on again, this time to the flood near the nature reserve which despite all the recent rain was more or less dry and only a Shelduck and a Lapwing were there. An even quicker stop at the other flood produced even less but we could have missed stuff which SD found as he pulled in behind us as we left to go to the nature reserve.
At the reserve met met up with MJ in the hide who told us there wasn't a lot doing so after a few minutes chat we both called it a day and went off to our respective homes.
So a bit of a disappointing day but not really when you look more closely, we'd actually seen loads of good stuff.
Where to next? A bit of an eastwards adventure tomorrow morning...depending on the weather of course - don;t fancy yet another soaking.
In the meantime let us know who;s winning all the fights in your outback.