The Safari was out of the door well before first light this morning, no stars or Jupiter this morning rather overcast but there were a considerable number of Robins singing and calling from almost every garden, far more than yesterday's clear and later sunny morning.
It looked like a good promising start to the day.
The temperature was very mild for late September and that had us hoping for a good moth haul. After Frank was breakfasted it was time to look in the box. A quick shuffy round the outside gave us a nice Caddisfly.
A Garden Carpet was nothing out of the ordinary and neither were two Light Brown Apple Moths. All the while we kept an eye and an ear open on the sky given the conditions we expected some visible migration to be happening but strangely there wasn't.
Deep inside the depths of the trap we had a couple of nice surprises, an easy one and a harder one. The easy one was an Angle Shades, we thought it was the first of the year but checking our redcords it was the second the other being caught in the first week of May.
The other proved trickier, our second Turnip of the year, not the Pearly Underwing we originally tentatively IDs it as.
The clouds thickened a little to the south and all of a sudden a bit of 'vis' started in the form of a Heron going over low westwards...or was this a local bird coming to try to steal Wifey's fish and saw us in the garden at the last minute? A loose strung out flock of 29 Meadow Pipits was next in the notebook with a Pied (Alba) Wagtail and then it happened, only a flipping Jay (Garden #41) - going north - why??? Only the second we've seen here at Base Camp and the other one also came by in a year of a mass influx due to an acorn failure, just like this current invasion. We did wonder if we'd get one at Base Camp and now wonder if one will pass over Patch 2 but sadly we don't have much time in the mornings this week to look.
More Meadow Pipits passed over and 79 was the final tally when they stopped abruptly just before 10.00. Others included a flock of 5 Greenfinches going straight south at reasonable height so unlikely to be local birds, a few Chaffinches, three of which dropped in to Base Camp briefly.
A 'probable' Chiffchaff was seen but not heard flitting through the shrubs at the bottom of the garden but with still a full compliment of leaves to hide behind never gave itself up for a clinching view.
A Speckled Wood butterfly put in an appearance about 09.30 showing how warm it still is.
Once the passage had dried up it was time to get the bacon on...well it is Sunday!
|Looks good enough to eat - sure was!!!! Home grown tomatoes too - delish mmmmm|
After Wifey had taken eh-up muvver to the shops as per unusual on a Sunday we had a chore to do which took us towards the nature reserve but we opted not to duck in there as Frank was with us and wasn't up for a wander all the way round and it was the scrubby areas rather than the water or reedbeds we would have been most interested in. So we doubled back a bit and called in to have a look at our 'usual' Great Crested Newt site - just on the off chance there'd be one or two there.
The walk down the road had us listening to a multitude of Goldcrests, how many? - impossible to tell!
A Great Spotted Woodpecker dropped in to the top of tall tree in the adjacent zoo. from within the wood to our left Robins and Wrens sang and Dunnocks called. Where the patch sightly diverges from the woodland edge the sub-song of a Blackcap came from within a dense Elder bush bedecked with berries - it didn't show itself.
Frank stopped to sniff something a little more intently than the 101 other sniffings he'd already done so we had a look at what had peeked his interest - the remains of an unfortunate Song Thrush.
Looking down the path the yellowing shape of Field Maple stood out against the still more or less green of the other bushes.
A small dragonfly then caught our eye and landed on the path not far in front of us. We'd hardly seen a soul all trip, OK so it was only about 400 hundred yards from the Land Rover but with Frank's mobility issues and super sniffing had taken half an hour, but just at the wrong time a dog walking family came round the corner and flushed it. In flight it looked quite weeny and went over to the other parallel path - great we'll catch up with it there - oh no we won't the only jogger of the whole safari came past and we never saw it again. We did see a Speckled Wood do exactly the same and this wasn't flushed by anyone.
When we eventually reached the appointed place we lifted the refugia to find nothing under the first one apart from a crushed Garden Snail, even less under the second one and the third gave us the best but no Great Crested Newt, not even any Smooth Newts, 'just' two Common Toads an adult and a one year old. So they weren't Great Crested Newts but we've not seen many Toads at all this year = happy!
Frank was dreadfully slow on the way back, sitting sown every five yards or so but that gave us another chance to look for the iffy dragonfly - it didn't reappear but we did watch the aerial acrobatics of two Migrant Hawkers.
|The sign seems rather apt considering the old fella's Creaky bones!|
By now it was after lunch on a warm summery day and the zoo car park was jam packed and a constant stream of cars came up the road
Great to see so many people coming to see and enjoy animals even if captive and not wild. And they've paid good money to get in. But why is it so popular when the nature reserve a mile away is free to get in? The animals are bigger, more exciting or is it just that they're easier to see? There's not much hard work or patience required in the zoo (except for those pesky Porcupines!) whereas at the nature reserve the biggest animal you're likely to see is the Mute Swans (patience luck and being out at the right time might give you a Roe Deer but it's far from guaranteed) and they can't compete with an Elephant or two. The way things are going today's youngsters are the last generation who will have the opportunity to see Elephants (Asian or African) in the wild, same goes for Rhinoceros - how terribly sad, what have we done? We sincerely hope we're very very wrong.
There needs to be more connection between the populace and their local wildlife not just the 'exciting' exotica - we could have that in the form of Lynx, Wolves, Beavers and more if the Establishment would feck off and leave even the little stuff alone. But with tales today of Mountain Hare massacres, the desire to bring back the barbarism of Fox hunting and the continuing rancid persecution of our birds of prey, Stoats, Weasels, Pine Martens incredibly rare Wild Cats (Scottish - but they used to be British until they were wiped out south of the border, possibly the most endangered cat in the world but that doesn't stop them).
If you haven't (and you should have done by now) please sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting. Don't let them get away with destroying our future generation's wildlife heritage. Worth casting your eye over this whether you agree with Mr GM much of the time or not. His book Feral is a starting point for discussion. Here's another
Where to next? Only a short Patch 2 visit will be possible tomorrow so just in case our Extreme Photographer has sent some pics from sunny Pembrokeshire.
In the meantime let us know who's appearing sporadically in your outback