Sunday, 19 October 2014

Long time no see

The Safari had arranged to meet up with our long time chums from the southern end of Safari-land for a days camaraderie and birding around some our regular haunts. We'd arranged to meet at the nature reserve with a sort-of plan to go north to a good birding spot then work our way back to the nature reserve calling in a few other locations as we passed them.
All was going swimmingly until we had a later than anticipated start and 'lost' one car load somewhere on the adjacent caravan site for several minutes. "Where are you?" we asked over the phone..."by the Sparrowhawk" came the reply...."Where's the Sparrowhawk? "By a laser thingy!" "What laser thingy?"
While waiting for everyone to get together, we didn't know everyone was already on site by now, we had five minutes in the hide and were lucky enough to watch a small flock of Whooper Swans (MMLNR #87) drop in, first alerted to their presence by their beautiful haunting calls we had just milliseconds to alter the camera settings find them in the viewfinder and blast off a few shots.
A call told us it was time to meet at the allotted place by the soon to be refurbished and enlarged, Ranger Base and as we The Gang turned up and got their kit out of their cars a Grey Wagtail (MMLNR #88) dropped on to a nearby puddle...two site year birds! Not a bad start to the day's proceedings.
We had another look from the hide but by now the Whooper Swans, 19 of them altogether IH told us, had been seen off by the still extremely territorial Mute Swans. A regular winter occurrence if slightly disappointing that the Whoopers rarely get a chance to settle and roost overnight.
A Ceti's Warbler sang on and off for us but wouldn't show unlike the Wren and Robin. Teal and Shovelers showed well but generally it was fairly quite and we couldn't find any Snipe, one of our team's target birds for the day, in the cut patch of reeds in front of the hide. Nor could we find any anywhere else! Well actually there were couple of other things of note, a couple of dragonflies were buzzing around and one stayed still enough to be identified by AB as a male Southern Hawker, the first 'record' for a good few years that we've heard off suggesting that they are seriously over-looked and consequence under-recorded. Across the hide window was a spider's web made by an Amorobius species, the male was in the centre of the web and the female was secreted at the top of the web under the window frame - his days are numbered, unless he doesn't mate of course!
More Cetti's Warblers were heard in the reeds as we walked round to the scrub where the Long Eared Owl had been seen for the first time this season recently. Being still only mid October there are still far too many leaves on the trees to make finding such a camouflaged bird easy - and we didn't! There were lots of Blackbirds enjoying the Apples but also plenty of signs that people have been breaking through the fences to relieve the trees of their fruit and the birds their winter food supply. This year there is an abundance of Hawthorn berries on the nature reserve for the birds to go at so all should be well. Unlike the drive to our next site during which we passed mile upon mile of flailed hedgerow with barely a berry to be seen.
We retraced our steps and then cut off of on the path out of the reserve to see if we could see the owl from the path around the outside of the reserve - even more green vegetation to peer through and again we had no joy - time to move on.
Our convoy headed north to the little estuary/saltmarsh which has now been renamed - with a name that is 'unsuitable' for a public forum which younger persons and those of a delicate disposition read but which will now not be able to be erased from our memory!
We didn't stop at the pub but headed strait to the adjacent cafe for a bite to eat.
Spot the deliberate mistake
While The Gang munched their way through variously filled panini and a spam and egg butty - didn't know you could still get spam never mind it being served in a reputable establishment! - a Ladybird was found on the table, this after earlier discussion at the nature reserve of copious or not numbers of Ladybirds turning up and had anyone seen any, the consensus was none of us had.
This one's identity was found to be one of those nasty cannibalistic, STD carrying native Ladybird killing Harlequin Ladybirds. They come in a bewildering variety of colours and number of spots but note the red/brown legs and the 'M' (or 'W') on the pronotum.
More calories than you can shake a large stick at devoured it was time for some birding. A look at the creeks gave us loads of Redshanks and Teal but the stars here were no fewer than three Common Sandpipers. They, or at least one, often winter here.
Out on the river there were shed loads of Golden Plovers and Lapwings, a good few Curlews with a nice flock of Wigeon thrown in for good measure.
The wind was picking up making passerines hard to find, which was shame as the old railway has 'interesting' bushes where a roving tit flock could easily hold a Yellow Browed Warbler but not today.
A herd of cattle decided to cross the river, we've visited this site many times but not seen this sign of John Wayne driving them so it must be a regular thing they do...the grass is always greener and all that.
Try as we might we couldn't find the Spotted Redshanks but the previously wanted Snipe showed up and showed up out in the open on the mud banks giving excellent scope views. A raptor shot through and landed on the marsh. Peregrine, Merlin? No a big female Sparrowhawk, a little unusual out there well away from any cover.
Another flock of Redshanks were searched through to reveal a large male Ruff but still no Spotted Redshanks.
The birding degenerated into general chat and banter with cursory looks at the marsh.
Sure they're pretending to concentrate
We closed the session with the tide coming in and the call of a Greenshank, Those creeks can hide a multitude of birds and did so quite quite effectively today.
We ran out of time to visit any of the other sites we'd planned to have a shuffy at.
All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes but sure as eggs is eggs we'll be birding together again sometime soon this winter, and we're sure it'll be a laugh a minute again - you don't want too take this birding too seriously, it's supposed to be fun and with this lot it certainly is.
Where to next? Family day coming up so our next safari-ing will be tomorrow lunchtime on Patch 2.
In the meantime let us know what's hiding in the mud in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Crikey, even the cows are migrating!

I bet the Stork has some egrets about commissioning that sign.