The Safari was invited on a walk-round and chat with the new staff at the nature reserve yesterday which turned out rather fortuitously.
On a cold and blustery day we had a look at some of the projects that are coming up and rambled on about the 'old days'. Our walk round took us from the under construction visitor centre & classroom across the bridge and along the embankment. We saw various bits n bobs as we walked including a large female Sparrowhawk wafting over the reedbed in the distance which at first pre-bins glance had us thinking ring tailed harrier but to no avail onc the bins were lifted.
We had a look at the pond in the corner which was scraped out of a wet area a few years ago, no Jack Snipe there unfortunately. Rejoining the main path we stopped to let a group of walkers catch up with us and while AH had a chat to them GN and us just admired the scenery. Out of nowhere (well the reedbed actually) down to our left right on the side of the path a Chiffchaff appeared. We lifted the bins and something didn't ring true. It's face was wrong, the rear flanks quite ochorous and although the low morning light was harsh and behind it a Chiffchaff wouldn't have such bright legs would it? Then it called like two stones being knocked together tchk tchk tchk - hang on a mo - what kind of call is that for a Chiffchaff, certainly nothing like a 'normal' one would make and neither would a 'tristis' eastern one? Our mind was racing now! Ahh we've got the camera quick blast off a few pics - but with it being bright sunny and the bird in the shadows we couldn't see it in the viewfinder - point and click and hope. We doubted we got it. We tried to get closer but it moved ahead of us in the dense vegetation still calling until it flew a good few yards and dropped out of view never to be seen again.
We were definitely unhappy about calling it a Chiffchaff and considered the options of what else it could be which left Dusky Warbler or Radde's Warbler neither of which we are familiar with.
On our round we had a look at the one Long Eared Owl on view and later saw the Iceland Gull drop in for a bathe but didn't see the Firecrest.
We finished our circuit and AH and GN left the site leaving us on a very late lunch break so we decided to wander back for another try at the Firecrest. Extremely experienced birders MJ and FW were there and we told them about our warbler which MJ immediately said sounded more like Dusky than Radde's or anything else for that matter. We then listened to the calls of Dusky Warbler on Xeno-canto on our phone and that WAS the call we'd heard earlier - the three of us hit the trail to the reedbed for a look and listen! After a conflab we spoke to CB on the phone and he said it sounded really good for one and put it out as a probable on the pager network - we hoped it would reappear and although late in the afternoon some local birders could get down and confirm the ID.
Once home we downloaded the camera and blow us down there was some semblance of some pics - we had got it after all - after a fashion at least!
We posted the pics on the local birding FB group and within minutes CB phoned to confirm the ID - magic, a self found Lifer (87)! Well double chuffed.
Although we weren't the first to see it as NP had seen it last week apparently but not put an ID to it.
We ended the day with a tally of 55 for the year at the nature reserve, 10% over half our target for the year.
Today we'd already arranged to meet our long time birding buds at the Place We Do Not Mention By Name on the South-side, very confusing having two superb but very different reserves with almost identical names so close to each other 20km/15miles (but nearly 70 miles round trip by road).
It was raw in the weather but great fun, we are quite an irreverent bunch of birders enjoying what we see when and if we see it.
|Marton Mere LNR v Martin Mere WWT|
|Hazel catkins - early sign of spring|
|Advertsing a well known tyre and exhaust repair company? One of KB's no doubt|
Never mind our numbers, their numbers are spectacular 5000 Pink Feet, 1000 Whoopers, 800 Lapwings and over 60 Ruff. The sights and more particularly sounds are awesome and if you haven't been to witness it then we suggest you get your skates on and get down there if you can...wrap up warm though!
A couple of Peregrines, more Buzzards than you can shake a stick at, a Marsh Harrier and a Barn Owl at the close of play - we couldn't see the Tawny Owl the small birds were mobbing in an Ivy covered tree.
Many thanks to the gang for a superb day out.
Where to next? Indoors doing an event for the Zoo tomoz.
In the meantime let us know who's making all the noise in your outback.