The Safari met up with BD again as soon as the morning rush had subsided and headed off northwards across the river. BD was out that way yesterday but on foot so couldn't cover more than a couple of the hotspots.
Our first port of call was the farmland feeding station but with a cold night behind us there was only scraps left. The lack of food didn't deter a small flock of Tree Sparrows, a Robin and a Chaffinch the usual hubbub of activity was lacking. Rather strangely, we thought, someone had left a dead Rabbit and a dead Brown Rat out on the track; please tell us they're for a photo opportunity of any passing Rough Legged Buzzards and not laced with poison! The Rabbit still had a coating of frost on it.
With nothing much to aim our cameras at we moved along the lane about half a mile to enjoy the 300 odd strong Whooper Swan flock in the harvested Potato field which had been accompanied by several hundred Pink Footed Geese and one white morph Snow Goose. Not today, only half a dozen geese and all of them distinctly grey. The noise from the swans was something else hauntingly beautiful as they conversed amongst themselves. A few small flocks of Pink Feet flew in but no white one.
Moving along to the other farmland feeding station we were faced with the same predicament - no food and this time no birds at all so a quick about turn was in order.
Passing the first feeding station there was now a Carrion Crow living up to its name trying to break in to the carcass of the Rabbit, we didn't stop; places to go
people birds to see and all that!
Our next stop was the amenity area overlooking the vast salt-marsh. We unloaded the car and stepped up on the bank to see this
The white dots beyond the numpties aren't Snow Geese but Shelducks there were hundreds of them. In fact there was hundreds of lots of things, Pink Footed Geese, Pintail, Teal, Wigeon, Lapwings, Curlews, and Dunlin along with a few Golden Plovers at least one Grey Plover about 10 Little Egrets and a monster Peregrine perched on a fence post - all a bit distant though. Skylarks flew around mostly unseen calling overhead and a large flock of just about identifiable Twite (176) went past a long way out.
The wooded area behind us had a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker and the short walk to the other wooded area and pond had us stopping to look at the last Ragwort in flower which had a a few sluggish Eristalis hoverflies trying to feed on on it. The pool almost gave us a Kingfisher we spotted it as it was flushed by an elderly bloke in front of us and only seen weaving through the tree tops to the first pond, a Black Headed Gull that sounded like a Parakeet (bizarre), a few tame Mallards, a Coot (singular) and a Tufted Duck...oh and and a hideous white domesticated Muscovey Duck - must tell Beefy Botham the RSPB aren't doing much to conserve it - the lad's gone gaga! (We've added the link - make your own minds up about its content).
A Fieldfare 'wacka-chacka'd' as it dropped in to the top of the trees and promptly dropped out of sight.
Our next site was a mile or so down the road but in our haste to get there we forgot we'd promised BD a chance of a Little Owl and didn't turn left out of the car park but shot off to the right instead - dohhh.
The Pheasant murderers were out in force but weren't having much joy as we heard no shots being fired. We did see several Red Legged Partridges and Pheasants skulking in the undergrowth beside the lane and flushed a Grey Partridge in front of the car.
The car park was bonkers busy but nothing to do with the fact that Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan he recently visited for BBC Autumnwatch to do a piece on the Pink Footed Geese flying off early morning - no it was dog walkers again and again they were all over the mud flats!
The most interesting thing close by was this salt-marsh plant we're struggling to identify - ideas anyone...
Taking a walk back along the lane to the little wood we heard a Jay and some Blackbirds giving something (Tawny Owl?) hell in the depths of a conifer tree. The woods could only be desvcribed as quiet but we did see a couple of Grey Squirrels, a party of Long Tailed Tits, few Blue Tits, a couple of Great Tits, a Robin and a pair of Nuthatches. The Jay put in a brief appearance flying from the garden to the wood then back again but not quite staying still long enough for a pic. Also not staying but looking as though they might was about 60 - 70 Fieldfares that almost dropped into the treetops.
A butterfly flew across the car park but we couldn't get on to it to identify it - if we had to hazard a guess we'd say probably a Red Admiral.
Our next site wasn't that far as the rare migrant flies but is a 'three sides of the square' drive so we loaded our paraphernalia in the car and set off. Thankfully no dog walkers out on the mud here but no Twite on the little salt-marsh either! Loads of Lapwings, probably the largest flock of Common Gulls we've seen this season, plenty of Lapwings, more Curlews, a Golden Plover and in the field behind us a plethora of Rabbits - all alive and kicking this time.
Beside where we set the scope up there was an old Irish fish box thrown onto the top of the sea wall by the recent storm, must have been floating round the sea for a good while as it had a reasonable colony of Barnacles and Spirorbis Worms on it.
A large flock of Jackdaws kept us amuzed while we waited for the Twite to arrive which eventually they did, showed briefly had a little fly around then landed in the creeks out of sight not to reappear until they were ready to head off in to the distance from whence the y came. BD might have got a pic of a grounded one we stood no chance!
Time was now pressing but we had enough to call in a t the nature reserve on the way back to town - we didn't we took a little detour to the third farmland feeding station of the day and this time there was both food and birds including some fairly shy today hedge hugging Tree Sparrows - we'd lost the light by now and pics have a bit of hand-shake but deffo a great way to finish a great day in the field.
Once back at Base Camp we learned that the Snow Goose had done an early morning flit south of our southern river and now the big question is will it return for the weekend?Where to next? Wonder if the weather will allow a Patch 2 vist or two tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what saw you coming and did a bunk in your outback.