Wednesday, 30 April 2014

One good tern didn't deserve that

The Safari's day started quite badly-ish, picked up a little then ended in near catastrophe!
Yesterday was a misty wash out which was infuriating in more ways than one, the mist was low over the sea making visibility absolutely awful but wasn't very deep as above us the sky was crystal clear - a right old sea-fret. Added to that we were tied to the desk as news of a Cuckoo then an Avocet at the nature reserve broke. It's a long time since we've seen a Cuckoo there which is very sad since they have 'nested' there in the not too dim and distant past using a pair of Sedge Warblers as host. The nest wasn't far from the path and very conspicuous when the youngster was large, it was so obvious and called so loudly that any other birds passing nearby with food for their own broods diverted course and fed the ravenous monster.
And we need Avocet for our nature reserve life list - cruel!
The mist gave bright but not direct lighting conditions so we had a go at some arty Daisy and Dandelion pics on the back field ewhich is looking a picture at the moment.
This morning we were greeted by our little friends outside the office window.
Over on Patch 2 the mist was once again atrocious and we could barely see the sea across the low tide beach. On the sands there were a few gulls and a slightly larger, >100, Oystercatchers but nothing that does a lovely seven whistle trill.
At lunchtime the tide was in but so was the mist making visibility very poor still. A few scans didn't produce anything until we found a bull Grey Seal just about on the limit of vision. While watching him bobbing around on the gentle swell a small dispersed flock of eight Common Terns (146, P2 #57) waltzed leisurely past.
On our way back in to the office we spotted something unusual with the front lawn.
What's with the line of Daisies and why aren't there any to the left of it up to the hedge but a sort of normal scatter to the right of the dense line. The concrete ring is just a pad with a ring to which our wind turbines down for maintenance and isn't connected to anything. But there is a definite line of Daisies about two feet wide running the length of the garden, you can see it can't you?
No sign of the Avocet today so we didn't call in on the way home, the Garganeys are still there though which is very hopeful. A couple of Little Ringed Plovers are seen from time to time on the nearby flood, same ones or different pairs dropping in??? We might have to have a bash at them on the way to work tomorrow morning.
This evening all was normal at Base Camp, we had a shuffy round the garden at the flowers blooming in the tubs and all was good, no watering required after rain overnight and this morning. we took Frank out and he had a good half hour's sniffathon but when we got back there was a unusual sound of running water, not at all like the waterfall at the top of the pond, looking out of the kitchen window we saw water gushing from under the garage door -- something had gone horribly wrong with the pond filter! In the half an hour since we last looked the return pipe had become blocked with newly grown scummy stuff and blocked up making it overflow the sides as the pump dumped half the pond into the garden, about 550 litres in all. So much for trying to conserve water! Good job it happened when it did and not while we were at work or overnight as the fish would have had to evolve very quickly!
Where to next? We're on the beach with a school group in the morning but doing rocks and soils rather than anything to do with biodiversity but we'll have the camera and there's bound to something wildlifey to catch the children's eye.

Monday, 28 April 2014

And we thought yesterday was a good day!

The Safari didn't get a chance to go out early this morning but we had the scope ready for a later than normal get out if we could. But MJ brought our 'lost' camera back and told us that it was more or less a dead loss out there and very murky  to boot so we put the scope back under the desk and gave it a miss.
On the way down the corridor to the printer we passed the open door of the cafe and heard the rattling trill of a Lesser Whitethroat coming across the work's garden. What a fluke, the first we've had here. It was somewhere along the Rosa rugosa hedge against the far back wall so we wandered over that way to see if we could get a glimpse of it. It rattled away again then flew in to the corner shrub thicket where we caught a very brief glimpse of it among a small number of House Sparrows before it disappeared into the dense foliage never to reappear, well not during the two or three minutes we stood watching at least. Also present was a new flock of about 10 or so Goldfinches and a couple of Swallows skimmed through.
Lunchtime came and we were a little later than normal getting out. The visibility wasn't too bad, probably better than for MJ earlier and our first few scans didn't give us anything at all except for a few gulls around a bizarre fishing craft - it looked like two inflatable canoes with an armchair attached between them, sitting what appeared to be terribly close to the water; sounds rather Health Robinson but it did have an outboard motor and the two guys in it looked comfy enough catching several small fish, perhaps Whiting.
The gulls kept getting up and flying round but not necessarily when the lads were catching something - we scanned left and right and saw something black come up next to a beer can, hopefully not thrown in by the fishermen. It came up again and was deffo a Harbour Porpoise, nice! The gulls got up again and moved a bit further away from the armchair and looking where they were circling two came up in synchrony, even nicer! Over head a flock of seven Arctic Terns (144, P2 #55) floated past, the sun was warm on our back - this was turning into a rather nice session.
It got even better when the two porpoises surfaced and another much nearer one rolled in front of them at the bottom of our field of view - three!!! Once again the two Harbour Porpoises rolled together and this time three Manx Shearwaters (145, P2 #56) sailed inches over their arching backs....oh what a session this had become, a real good to be alive moment that will be cherished for many years, the simplest things really are the most rewarding. It wasn't over yet either, three Harbour Porpoises were seen to roll, all adults, now were these three we'd seen two of a few times and the other a fourth or did number three hear the other two and head across to join them????? SMcC had had one at the north end of town on her patch this morning too, one of ours or perhaps number five along the coast today???
One of the Manx Shearwaters came back or it was another, a fourth? But other than that lot and six Common Scoters there was little about.
With our boots filled with blubbery action we headed back to the desk extremely happy.
Having got our camera back we can now show you the pics we took around and about yesterday.
Hybrid Bluebells
The Wood Warbler was directly above these at one point
Great Spotted Woodpecker at the top of the tallest tree!
Frank keeping cool under the shade of the trees
Take a good look - really under-rated - stunning!
The only Red Campion we saw but there were probably more further round the lake edge
The new woodland coming along nicely
The Oak was coming well out before the Ash buds had hardly started to swell, so does that mean this summer we'll only have a splash rather than a soak?
Oak Apple Galls with a faded Brown Lipped Banded Snail hanging on
Frank having a pant in the sun along the path through the developing woodland
Told you it was a good day out yesterday - beautiful even...far far better than being at the shops buying unnecessary and unneeded tat like the hordes that really need to start living their lives and leave the shops behind.
Where to next? Can tomorrow make it three in a row and be even better, or will it be back to 'normal'? One thing's for sure if you don't look you deffo won't see.
In the meantime let us know who's enjoying the armchair view in your outback.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

A much better day

The Safari was disappointed with the moth trap this morning, there were only two Hebrew Characters in there after a reasonably mild night with a dropping wind.
We didn't get out until Wifey had left mid-morning to collect eh-yup muvver and we were undecided as to where to go as Frank was having a slow day so we didn't want to have to drag him far. Checking the bird news we saw that only half an hour earlier a Wood Warbler was seen in the big park so that was our mind made up, good bird, not too far and not too far a walk either....sorted!
We arrived at the car park and got the big fella out, it then took nearly three quarters of an hour to get him to the bridges - it's not that far! - sniffing at every flipping tree. at the appointed place there was no sight nor more importantly sound of our quarry. Blackcaps, Wrens, Dunnocks, Blackbirds and a rare this year (apparently to us at least) Willow Warbler sang around us and the twigs were bouncing with Blue and Great Tits. A Treecreeper did what they're named for, all in all it was a very pleasant and peaceful place to be.
FB turned up and together we listened and eventually heard the little rascal in the distance. We walked towards the song and then were rewarded with neck craning views as we followed the sound behind us as the bird flitted high in the opening canopy over our heads and back the way we'd come. A lovely little bird that we got reasonable views of, Wood Warbler (141) in the bag, happy days. FB went on his way and we stayed on the bird in case any one else turned up. 
We photographed a selection of the hybrid Bluebells and a single Red Campion along with some of the local feral Pigeons and a Great Spotted Woodpecker having a right old preen high in the canopy but we can't show you them as we lost our camera, sort of temporarily thankfully.
It went quiet for long periods but eventually we got a passing inexperienced birder on to it just before a gaggle of more serious local birders turned up but by now it had gone quiet again and remained so.
They told us of a Whinchat not far up the road so happy with our day so far we loaded up Frank and took to the road. The site is only a few miles away but with all the Sunday drivers on the road it took frustratingly far longer than we wanted. We got there and saw a small bird on a post, was that it, no it flew and showed itself to be a Linnet. Then scanning the tatty wire fence there it was a fantastic male Whinchat, (142) what a real stonking Bobby Dazzler he was. We were really enjoying him, a little distant as we didn't have the scope with us, when a spaniel shot through the field of view followed by its numpty owner - didn't think people were allowed in those fields, they probably aren't but when did that ever stop dog walkers? Anyway the upshot was that for the next 20 minutes we searched we never saw so much of another feather of him. A few Swallows blitzed through but there wasn't much else about so we called it a day and headed back towards Base Camp stopping off at the local field that was planted as a woodland a couple of years ago.
It's coming along nicely and a Willow Warbler sang there something that would have been almost unheard of before the planting - we were actually hoping for another sneaky Whinchat but perhaps we'd need to be there at first light before the multitude of mutt walkers or at least after a heavy shower. Going to good in a few years time when it matures a little bit more.

While we were there we got a call from Young UN AB telling us there was a pair of Garganey at the nature reserve, another frustratingly slow drive through the Sunday afternnooners saw  us pulling up outside the hide 'only' about three quarters of an hour later to learn they'd swum out of view and into the reeds. Undeterred we stopped a little while and chatted when AB called out he'd refound them back where they'd come from, must have snuck round the back hidden in the reedbed. Garganey (143, MMLNR #83) Thank you AB. They stayed on the reed fringe but gave superb views as they started to feed. No pics - too far away and it was then that we got worried about leaving Frank in the sun in the car and dashed off to take him back to Base Camp leaving the camera on the bench - doh. again a big thanks to AB who picked it up and kept it safe for us - phew!!!
So there you have it a fine day out in the sun with a binocular-load of wildlife sightings thoroughly enjoyed!
Where to next? Back to work tomorrow and little chance of any safari-ing at least in the morning when it will probably be best out to sea.
in the meantime let us know if the sun shone on the 'scarces' in your outback.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Safari has been spending far too much time on Twitter! Mostly we've been harping on about the unfolding events regarding the annual bird slaughter on the otherwise lovely island of Malta, culminating this lunchtime with the invitation to Chris Packham to the police station for a 'discussion' which lasted for over five hours, wonder what he was asking them! More to the point did they have any answers?
We've done bits n bobs of safari-ing of late but not seen too much, that's not to say we haven't had a great time.
Patch 2 gave us the amazing sight of a Great Black Backed Gull ripping into a deceased Lesser Spotted Catshark. Not a lot was happening for us on sea, others however were filling their boots with all manner of migrant seabirds.
Our monthly visit to our Water Vole/Great Crested Newt/?Grass Snake site was rained off but as soon as we got back to Base Camp news broke of a fall of White Wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail so we put our coat straight back on and went out again.
Arriving at the site we scanned the flood, we soon found the White Wagtails with some of our own Pied Wagtails and a couple of Wheatears, a Brown Hare hopped in to view, we carefully went to get the camera but it saw us and scampered to the far side of the field where we had to phone-scope it on a high zoom on both camera and scope.
The lane is fairly quiet even at this busy time and the background sound above the pitter-patter of the heavy drizzle was the glorious music of Skylarks singing.
No sign of the Yellow Wagtail but further down the lane another flood had a our first Mallard duckling of the year and a couple of Lapwings stood sentinel over unseen sitters perhaps. A bout of heavier rain brought down the largest flock of hirundines we've come across this spring, well over 200 about 70:30% Swallows to House Martins with just a few Sand Martins thrown in for good measure. When a Sparrowhawk flew across the filed and flushed everything apart from the duck family Lapwings so we called it a day.
Last night we headed out with some other FARG members to do an amphibian survey. We did four ponds but there few amphibians about. A Great Crested Newt was found but not a full sized adult, only half a dozen of so Smooth Newts and a couple of adult Frogs and a little one, not a single Toad and no tadpoles??? Where are they??? Surely if they've already metamorphosed we'd have found some tiddlers in the damp grass near the ponds.
This morning we met up with CR for a meander around the nature reserve, the aim was to find him a Lesser Whitethroat but the wind was picking up to a howl and keeping everything low and quiet. A Grasshopper just about audibly reeled the sound carrying on the wind towards us. Common Whitethroats churrred but simply refused to launch into their dancing song flights, similarly a Sedge Warbler was giving it plenty but from deep in cover.
Round and about we had more Sedge Warblers, a couple of Reed Warblers and Cetti's Warblers all over the shop but the wind was becoming seriously annoying. We did look for the Bee Orchids after their meadow has been mown and we found four, happy with that wonder how many will be flowering in the first week of's never what you expect that's for sure.
A chat with another birder revealed he's had a Swift...time to rig up the speakers near our's hoping!
To show how bad the wind was making things although it was warm and there's loads of blossom out we saw hardly any insects and neither us took any pics in the tow hours we were there - still great being out though and if you don't look you deffo won't see!
Where to next? Mothy is out again tonight and the wind has dropped a bit so fingers crossed.
In the meantime let us know who's in detention in your outback

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Crying shame

The Safari is very rapidly going off work, it really does infringe far, far too much on our safari-ing time.
Patch 2 was a bit of a dead loss, only a few Red Throated Divers and not a lot else out there and nothing going over in the clear bright conditions.
A very quick cjeck of the gardens was a megatory. Then mid-morning we heard the worst news; three Whinchats at the nature reserve followed later by a drake Garganey, all the ones we've seen in recent years have been females, juveiles or elclipse drakes...dohhhh what a day to be stuck inside!
Lunchtime was even worse on Patch 2, very little time to look and we saw precious little and more gripping news came in about a Harbour Porpoise, Whimbrels and an Arctic Tern out there; horribly gripping stuff and then this evening it was even worse when we heard there were two more Whinchats at the wetland near the nature reserve...dohhh
Back at Base Camp we had a whole to wit before Wifey got home so we pottered around in the garden, not seeing much other than a huge Tree Bee and Lucilla fly sitting on the bin lid in the sunshine - off to get the camera we went but by the time we'd come back and fitted te super-macro lens it was long gone. A fairly long wait ensued, it didn't return but was replaced by a similar but more dowdy black fly which we got a few shots of before we flushed it. We're annoyed that the camera settings were wrong, it's not as though we didn't have the time to get them set correctly...dohhhh schoolboy error.
That's all we've got for you from a day that promised so much more...dohhhh
Where to next? No chance of much more than a couple of minutes on Patch 2 tomorrow morning and then no chance of getting out until home time when its our monthly visit to the snake pit - what chance an actual real life snake???
In the meantime let us know who stepped up to the plate when all others vanished in your outback.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

And now for something completely different

The Safari  reckons it's not everyday you see a roller-skating Giant Panda being accompanied by a burly bloke dressed as a nun on a mobile piano!
Maybe it is round your way....
And in other news.
A nice summer plumaged Red Throated Diver was found on Patch 2 first thing while we were watching that we saw an auk drift into the field of view, While watching that and IDing it as a Guillemot a Harbour Porpoise surfaced four times behind it...not a bad few minutes. We found another three Red Throated Divers all of wom were still in their winter garb as were the other two Guillemots we picked up. Two Greeat Crested Grebes were out there too.
A few Sandwich Terns plunged offshore, one successfully.
A trip to the shop for tea n milk gave us DB's Goldfinches (P2 #52) in the far corner of the garden and the return journey from the shop saw a Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff (P2 #53) dive in to the bushes in front of us as we walked up towards the car park - Both are very scarce at work but this one didn't call or sing so we're not sure which of the two it was.
By lunchtime the tide had gone out but the beach was disturbed by fishermen, bait diggers and dog walkers so there wasn't much about. A look down the beach to the south had us watching a Whimbrel (140, P2 #54) come in to land before being flushed by a light aircraft a flying on its way. As we watched the Whimbrel climb higher in the sky a pair of dog-fighting gulls caught our eye. Shame it was so hazy as one was a Lesser Black Backed Gull and the other an Arctic Skua! Needless to say the skua won the battle.
The two Great Crested Grebes had now increased to a flock of three but there was nothing else on the sea although with the low tide and heavy drizzle visiibility wasn't the best it's ever been.
Been some good stuff about today which has had us a bit miffed at being stuck at a Wood Warbler very close to the nature reserve, many many years since we've had one there, only 91 Wheatears in a couple of fields a short drive away, still only seen three all spring, and there must have been a Whinchat somewhere, they were being reported all along the coast to the south of us...Chat Alley???
Where to next? very tempted to do an evening wood warbler twitch.
In the meantime let us know who's providing the musical accompaniment in your outback.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ladybird ladybird whence forth comest thou

The Safari is fairly certain we've got the words to a popular nursery rhyme and/or a bit of Willie Waggledagger quite wrong there.
After a bit of overnight rain we were quite hopeful of something being about so off to Patch 2 we went. A quick scan saw us looking at an more or less empty sea. A couple of Sandwich Terns and a Grey Seal were out in the murky sea, rain was still in the air.
A further couple of scans found us a Guillemot and not a lot else.
The main event was happening literally right under our nose, there were hundreds of Ladybirds on the seawall right by us. Looking further along the wall we saw there were thousands of them! nothing for it but to nip back over the road and swap the scope for the camera!
Without our specs we could see there were smaller ones amongst the 7-Spot Ladybirds, no not baby ones! Inspection of the pics we took showed them to be 11-Spot Ladybirds only about 4-5mm long.
Showery rain persisted throughout the morning meaning the works garden wasn't overly dogged and there was a chance of a migrant being dropped - none did! However just before lunch DB came by with one of her dogs and told us there was Goldfinch over in the far corner where the nice publicly spirited person outs the food out, we didn't see it but it was the first of the year here and when we were leaving to go home we saw a Greenfinch (P2 #51).
In the office we've been running a sort of experiment about a) how acidic is cola and b) what would be the effects of ocean acidification on marine life...there are some scary stories that increasing CO2 in the oceans will raise the pH meaning the small calcium shelled sea creatures will fail to survive and bring the ocean ecosystem to crashing halt. Hopefully the phyto-plankton which gives us about half of our all important oxygen won't be immediately affect - would you rather suffocate or starve?
So here we go - a selection of shells and a crab carapace where collected at random off the beach washed and dried and then covered with cola three weeks ago.
They are clockwise from top left, Green Shore Crab (Chitin not calcium carbonate), Common Cockle (hard thick tough shell, Striped Venus (another toughish one), Thin Tellin (delicate), Banded Wedge Shell (thin and  delicate), Rayed Trough Shell (thicker but still more delicate then the top two).
The experiment had to end today cos when we got into the office this morning after the holiday there was a distinct wiff of something none too pleasant - turned out to be festering cola rather than festering shellfish.
So the results were on the left a two bits of limestone and a piece of quartz, the limestone bits were in a different tub but had been there for the same length of time. They now had a chalky film on the outside which wrote on the black card, the quartz appeared to be unaffected.
A brief discussion with BD suggested the chitin of the crab would be unaffected by the acid (coulda done with some litmus paper to check the actual pH) but it had gone soft and papery. Very little change to the two hard shells, the Common Cockle and the Striped Venus, not even discoloured. 
The three more delicate shells did have some changes. The Banded Wedge Shell disintegrated with light pressure from a pencil, the Thin Tellin withstood more pressure but the corner gave way. The Rayed Trough Shell was perhaps the most interesting the pointed end of the shell had gone but the rest wasn't overly affected a part from some discolouration. 
So what does all that show, well three weeks in a cola bath doesn't do some shells much good but doesn't seem to harm others...what that sort of pH would do to the living animal inside the shell is a different matter entirely.
For reasons of fairness we should repeat the procedure using one of the two propriety colas rather than a supermarket own brand.
What is certain is ocean acidification is going to become a serious problem that isn't going away for at least a couple of millennia - you have been warned!
Where to next? Patch 2 might throw up a few more year birds, a Whimbrel was seen by AB not long after we'd gone back inside.
In the meantime let us know who descended en masse in your outback.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Catch that pigeon NOW

The Safari didn't get any wildlifing done today, difficult from inside a pub serving quality beer!
Yesterday evening a stranger visited Base Camp. A racing pigeon, the telephone number on its ring told us it had come from Burnley, maybe it had been to the footy match which 'Pool lost on Friday. No doubt the owner will blame a Sparrowhawk or Peregrine for its demise all call for a cull or worse take matters into their own illegal hands,
This morning we emptied the moth trap, best catch of the season so far.
Clockwise from top left; Early Grey, female Bee moth, Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character.

And this one, a worn Clouded Drab?

Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow and with all the changes of migration going on what might we find?
In the meantime let us know who's the mystery in your outback 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A similar day but better pics

The Safari was delving into the moth trap with excitement this morning as we'd been able to use the big light last night, we got a slightly better catch than of recent was five Hebrew Characters showing their variety in shades and sizes and a rather pale Common Quaker but maybe the usual black CFL would have pulled these in too.

the nature reserve not quiet as early as yesterday but the morning was less windy and much warmer, consequently the birdsong was much more in evidence. As soon as we left the Land Rover and went through the gate we spotted this lovely male Reed Bunting pulling seeds out of the fluffbombs that are the heads of the Greater Reedmace against the low sun the scene was very dramatic - a stunning way to start the day.
Wandering on we enjoyed the songs of Lesser Whitethroat at the allotments and normal Whitethroats in the Brambles and Hawthorns a little further on. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Blackbirds added to the morning music.
The track leading to thee old cabins had a few small birds 'feeding' on grit at the side of the path, we put the bins on them to reveal they were a pair of Chaffinches and a pair of Linnets. There seem to be a few more Linnets around this year which is good to see. We tried to sneak up on them but they flushed so we were pleased to have fired off a few shots a minute or so earlier.
Inside the reserve we soon heard the reel of the Grasshopper Warbler but could we see it!!! The 'inland' Cetti's Warbler was vocal again but once again unseen. Notable by their absence were Willow Warblers.
In the 'Paddock' there was a real unusual sight, a pair of Grey Lag Geese, never seen them in there before...bizarre.
While we tried to get a bead on the Cetti's a male Linnet landed at the top of a nearby tree and began to sing.
Slightly over-processed - sorry, it was a fraction out of effective range.
Down where the Bee Orchids are we spotted a Puffball lurking in the grass.
Another 'inland' Cetti's, the one we so unsuccessfully photographed yesterday was blasting out at full volume but like the earlier one we couldn't get to grips with it today until it flew across the path in front of us and straight into deep cover.
Our second 'usual' Grasshopper Warbler wasn't performing today, has it moved on?
A 'new' Sedge Warbler sang enthusiastically but there was nothing from the Reed Warblers this morning. Whilst looking to see if we could get a look at said Sedgy we saw a large green leaf taller than the growing reeds, Water Dock - wow not common up this way. A look in THE book later showed no local records! We think it might have appeared in response to the recent-ish reedbed dredging works disturbing the seedbank.
Behind us the gulls went up from the fields in a raucous clamour, something had spooked them. Found it, nothing exciting just yet another helium balloon sailing on the wind on its way to becoming litter somewhere.
Another Cetti's Warbler gave much better views but all too easily evaded the lens. By the time we got all the way round we'd had a definite seven and maybe eight singing males!
A second round of the reserve mid-afternoon after the rain didn't give us the hoped for dropped migrant, in fact it was much quieter than the morning traipse.
Another great day on safari draws to a close.
Where to next? Mothy is on again. Up north tomorrow but maybe more boozin than wildlifin but there's  always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled.
In the meantime let us know who was in the most unlikely place in your outback.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A good day for bad pics

The Safari has been to the nature reserve twice today 06.15 the 17.00.
Neither visit gave us anything out of the ordinary although the Barn Owl early morning was nice.
If you can guess what these are you're doing well.
 'Bum' shot of a white splurge
Mostly hidden rown blob
You should get this one
Out of focus ale brown blob
One or the other with camera shake
Don't know what went wrong, just couldn't get subject, brain and camera to act as a cohesive unit today despite the excellent light.
Couldn't get anywhere near the Grasshopper Warbler despite it reeling seemingly inches from us. Whilst chatting to long lost friend PL, good to see him back in circulation, the gulls went up right high and we picked up a brownish one even higher than the others gliding steady north rather than circling round...was it a gull or something broader winged - too far away for anything like a guess.
Spent part of the afternoon deleting Woodpigeons, Blackbirds and Cats from the stealth-cam, sadly no Foxes, Pumas, Hedgehogs or Caribou wandered through the garden at Base Camp this week.
Our evening visit to the nature reserve gave us our first Small White of the season.
Where to next? More of the same but with better pics hopefully.
In the meantime let us know who effectively avoided the lens in your outback.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Jumping through hoops

The Safari has had the kids and their little ones to stay so we've not done as much wildlifing as we might have done.
Yesterday we had a a cold walk round the nature reserve wit them where we had Whitethroat (138 MMLNR #80) and Grasshopper Warbler (139, MMLNR #81) for our year list. Only to be expected at this time of year bit we still missed Wheatear, is this going to be a bad year dip for the site?
After tea we set off with LCV to a farmland area in wich a mown garden was playing host to a Hoopoe, it's a while since we've seen a British one and being so close not to be sniffed at.
It was a lovely evening, Curlews bubbled in the fields, Brown Hares hopped about the fields and a Kestrel hovered over the long grass in the field nest to the garden eventually capturing a vole. It was just about sunset by now so our shots were a tad 'artistic'.
We had a day on the beach with the little ones and found them Sand Gobies and Brown Shrimps to put them. With LCV we watched out for Harbour Porpoises on the very calm sea to no avail but we did find a Grey Seal in the end and watched a flock of about 10 Sandwich Terns diving for fish.
After they'd left for home we went back out to Hoopoe-Land but missed it this time by a matter of minutes. Nice to see more Swallows about than yesterdcay though.
Where to next? Maybe a very early visit to the nature reserve but will it be third time lucky?
In the meantime let us know who's gracing the mown lawns in your outback. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Very quick update for you

The Safari has been and still is busy but we have been able to get out a bit over the last couple of days.
A morning watch on Patch 2 gave us the long awaited Sandwich Terns (132, P2 #48), a bonus Arctic Skua (133, P2 #49) and one we didn't realise we'd not had yet this year a passing Lesser Redpoll (134, P2 #50).
Later we did a Porpoise and Seal watch for families to join in and saw not a lot but we did get a Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal along with good views of drake Eiders, a Guillemot and a Sandwich Tern catching a fish, the families enjoyed the session too which is always good.
A Great Crested Newt hunt on the way home was unsuccessful though.
This morning we did a guided walk round the nature reserve in lovely sunshine but an increasingly chilly wind. Missed a couple of sitters but did rack up Sedge Warbler (135, MMLNR #77), Lesser Whitethroat (136 MMLNR #78) and Reed Warbler (137, MMLNR #79). The Reed and Sedge being fresh overnight arrivals, we found the Sedge but were beaten to the Reed by regular birder TS.
There were plenty of Small Tortoiseshell  and Peacock butterflies out in the sunshine.

No Orange Tips on the Cuckoo Flower yet
Where to next? Got the kids staying but we'll be out somewher with them tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's fresh in in your outback.