The Safari met up with CR on a frosty but sunny nature reserve at lunchtime today and boy was it a good day to be out.
The cold nights and far from warm days meant that there was some ice across the mere which gave the gulls somewhere solid to haul out.
This was good news as it gave us the opportunity to spot any with rings, only one Black Headed Gull had one, a BTO type and too distant to read. No sign of the Iceland Gull or any Mediterranean Gulls.
A Cetti's Warbler sang from our left and was instantly answered by one to our right which flew across the gap in the reeds in front of us and a Water Rail flew across the same gap.
Then we heard a bang and another - some numpty was illegally shooting in the fields to the east. A call to the local constabulary had them make a visit but they didn't get out of their squad car and don their wellies to apprehend him. He hit and wounded at least one Woodpigeon while he was in view. While we've nothing against sustainable hunting provided all kills are eaten and Woodpigeon isn't a species at any particular risk the decent thing would be to only shoot them from places where it is permitted. The sheep in the field weren't too keen on his shots either running this way and that away from the noise.
|Time for some 'We See You' Birders Against Wildlife Crime posters to be put up in the area|
|Anyone recognise him - must be a local|
Outside the hide the frost was still lingering on the ground.
Another Water Rail was seen in flight but we didn't notice the Stonechat that was seen here yesterday.
It was amusing when a couple of walkers asked us if we were here to see the owl, according to them its all over a website - yes we thought we put it on there. Then one of the regular non-birding visitors told us there were two owls being watched by several birders already.At the owl site we soon saw the one we've been watching over the last couple of days but the second we could have easily missed if we weren't put onto it, having said that we don't think it was there yesterday or the day before - will have to check any original pics we've not deleted.
|Not the best Long Eared Owl pic in the world but it gives a flavour of how tricky it was|
After a few minutes chatting to other birders we wandered down to the viewing platform from where we could see another gathering of gulls and on our second or third scan we picked out the Iceland Gull. It flew round and had a bathe before flipping out onto the ice for a preen.
It seemed to be settled so we high-tailed it round to the 'Ice Station Zebra' hide where it was showing pretty well!
Also here was another Cetti's Warbler which as ever provided not a sniff of a photo opportunity.
It was almost time to leave when a really interesting looking gull flew past; we called to C to get some pics, as many as he could.
This was the best he managed as it came towards and over us.
Looks nice - dark mantled with a clean head, big dark wedge at the wing tip, is that a largeish bright yellow beak? Looks reasonably Yellow Legged Gully - anyone able confirm or not?
All in all a gulltastic day with plenty of other interst to keep us both busy.
Where to next? Not sure yet, maybe a further flung safari eastwards
In the meantime let us know who's the star of the ice show in your outback.