The Safari was out early as usual but today was very different to recent mornings - it was lashing down with rain, not been out first thing with it like that since can't remember when! No point listening out for newly arrived Redwings passing unseen overhead this morning.
Once it was light enough we watched the rather damp feeders and my oh my were they busy. There was a constant procession all morning. The first thing we saw when we opened the blinds was what was probably a Wren almost trapped under the net that protects the fish from the Heron over the pond but it darted out from under too quickly for us the get a decent glimpse of it. Blue and Great Tits jockeyed for position with Green and Goldfinches.
Through the flower beds a Dunnock and a Blackbird searched for juicy morsels while under the feeders Woodpigeons and a pair of Collared Doves hoovered up the scraps dropped by the tits and finches, the tits in particular seem very choosy about which seed they're ging to eat throwing two or three away before flying into cover to eat their preferred one.
The regular Robin has relearned, or is just hungry enough, to get back on the feeder and two Chaffinches were using the smaller feeder, a female and a 1st winter male - wonder if they are two of the ones that dropped in last week?
All was going swimmingly until - Wallop - (WB will recognise this!) - a Sparrowhawk flashed in and landed on our Wisteria covered pergola looking around in a very menacing way.
Slowly we eased our way round in our chair to grab the camera but we were too slow as a Woodpigeon came flying in from the hawk's blindside and almost landed on it in a successful attempt to scare it away - it didn't come back. It took a while for the others to get their confidence back and they did but we couldn't add any new species to the list.
Frank dragged us out all the way to Magpie Wood it used to be somewhere we passed quickly on route to much further but now it's his absolute limit and takes him nearly an hour to get back the few hundred yards to Base Camp. On the way we noted that the trees are beginning to lose their leaves in the gusty wind and the berries on various shrubs are shining brightly to entice the birds down to scoff them. Maybe not in Pembrokeshire as our Extreme Photographer reported many hedgerows have been flailed this week and lane after lane, mile after mile of roadside hedge have had their copious amount of berries surgically removed.
Sitting on the rather wet field where he hurt his leg we had a good clear view of the moors to the east and wondered if we could see any Hen Harriers floating over the skyline had we brought our scope - probably not cos they've been taken out by the Untouchables. In the hedge along the Golden Triangle a n unseen flock of Long Tailed Tits buzzed around.
On the way back down the hill Frank's nose found something that wasn't there on the way up. An egg lying on the grass verge at the side of the road, looks a better size for a Collared Dove rather than Woodpigeon. It hadn't been laid there, the big hole in it was indicative of predation by a Magpie or a Carrion Crow.
So even of the weather is 'poor' there's wildlife always offers something new or different to see - that's the joy of it - look and you will see.
Where to next? Exciting stuff coming up. We're going to off air for a few days as our best boy is taking us on an all expense spared birding trip to the migration hotspot of the east coast...looks like we're going to get wet...and after all that fantastic weather...just hope the rain drops plenty of birds right on our plates and the wind doesn't drive them all the way to Shetland which is looking more likely at the moment.
In the meantime let us know who's dropping what in your outback.