Monday, 24 November 2014

Birding - fair dos

The Safari didn't do much on Saturday, we went a-visiting friends with Wifey. Just before we set off three Jackdaws flew over Base Camp, quite a high count for here when the big migrant flocks aren't about. Also in the air were a shed load of Feral Pigeons and gulls so the recently invisible Peregrine may have been about or perhaps 'just' a Sparrowhawk
Our trip up the motorway was uneventful, the weather too poor to play Buzzards v Kestrels, not raptor fling weather at all! We did get a Jay flying over the carriageway which was nice. It was sad to see quite a number of squished Hedgehogs, most were small juveniles so may not have been large enough to survive the winter in hibernation but better that than run over we think.
The afternoon was spent in the pub catching up, being arm-chair football managers and generally drinking too much beer.
The rain came in waves and the sunshine shone between showers while the tide ebbed. The freshly uncovered mudflats had a Little Egret stalking around the channels - one for the 'seen from the pub while drinking beer' list.
Sunday we visited the NW Birdwatching Festival at the place which  sounds similar to our nature reserve 'that we do not mention by name' across the river. We had a plan and (some) money to spend but we'd left the credit card back at Base Camp just in case, after all we can resist everything except temptation. A quick look round the exhibits saw us keep the wallet firmly in the pocket, there wasn't really anything we could splurge out on - unless of course we'd gone overboard on the credit card so a good job we'd left it safely at home.
So off out we went to look at some wildlife. For a change we took a wander through the collection zone where we've not been for about 30 years. Great to see lots of families out n about feeding the ducks and having fun in the outdoors.
A nice flock of a species we're yet to see in the wild this year was grazing but were almost as shy as their wild counterparts, looking at us with great suspicion and keeping their distance and their backs turned.
Soon enough we were ensconced in the nearest hide and just sat listening to the gentle honking of the Whooper Swans, other waterfowl and Lapwings outside the window. There were birds everywhere!
A Buzzard sat on a distant post and a distant Kestrel hovered over the wet grassland. It was all very idyllic but really it could have done with some big mammals to complete the scene. They have Longhorn cattle but these are moved between small fields rather than being allowed to range freely - there'll be a well thought out plan; woulda been good to see some wallowing going on sure the ducks wouldn't mind either.
A Marsh Harrier flew over upsetting everything.
We do like Lapwings, a sight and probably even more, a sound of our youth.
A small number of Ruff were poking around at the water's edge and eventually one came close enough for the camera
 Whooper Swans kept coming in as the morning turned to afternoon.
We watched the punters in the hide, lots of men with beards and green jackets and mostly new Swazzas, the Swazza marketing team must be on good bonuses there were two of these for every one of all other comparable brands put together. The Canon crew were doing well too, lots of white lenses were being poked out of the windows. A few families came in but like last year teenagers were the rarity but certainly not absent altogether thankfully. We had a good chat with the lad next to us, a Nikon lad, and ear-wigged the others - without meaning to sound arrogant or elitist there was some guff being spoken from scary identification (the Ruff was a Dunlin!?!) to some ecological nonsense about Magpies and Sparrowhawks worthy of a 'You forgot the Birds' forum rather than a WWT hide.
Time to go to listen to the Urban Birder give his talk. Not a bad lad at all and some interesting places visited, but all under his catchphrase of Look Up - rather a kin to our own if you don't look you won't see - but that's what it's all about - looking, learning and especially looking in some obscure places finding your own patch and studying it rather than going to superb reserves like the one we were at all the time.
DL says Look up but what about looking down - we rather un-nerved some gents when we got the camera out to to get a pic of this.
Glad our ones at work are much cleaner - and we weren't getting too close to ID the the Shieldbug to species
Just goes to show what you can find if you look.
DC then strode into view as a skein of Pink Footed Geese came into view - nothing for it - Look Up!!!
That's him in the middle - not often he's the tallest in a crowd
Back to the hide for the rest of the afternoon where the light was low and strong.
Looking dapper and showing off for the ladies
 The sun dropped further
We took a wander to the next big hide along which Mr & Mrs C went off to look for the Tawny Owl we'd told them about.
There was a nice Marsh Harrier sat up in a tree and an expectant crowd was waiting to see if the local Barn Owl would put on a show. Inside the hide a huge Harlequin Ladybird crawled across the window frame.
The walk back caught another of our senses, scent - the wet woods the other side of the Fox-proof fence smelt wonderfully wet and fusty - just right for the increasingly rare Willow Tits of which there is one about visiting the feeders here from time to time.
Surprisingly green still considering it's the end of November
 At the end of the day the car park had us looking up for the last time
Twas a grand day out, good chat, a good talk, good laughs and great birds - the simple pleasures and didn't cost us more than a couple of gallons of fuel in the end! Phewww!!!
Today we didn't get a chance of a morning look at Patch 2 and our brief lunchtime look didn't give us much . But then a bit a mid-afternoon job by the windows in the corridor gave us a Magpie, which at the time we thought was the first for Patch 2 this year but later when checking records we found it was actually the second.
Not long after we saw a Sparrowhawk going over, the Feral Pigeons alerted us to the presence of a raptor. This was the first of year here (P2 #81) - only nine to go to get to our target, gonna be hard with less than a month to go now on Patch 2.
Where to next? More Patch 2 tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's paddling away furiously in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

How the dickens did that shieldbug finish up in a urinal, an absolutely unique photograph I reckon, I bet it won't hang around either, it'll soon get pissed off!!