Sunday, 15 February 2015

Back at the nature reserve for a change

The Safari spent the early part of the morning watching the world pass by the feeders which included the first Collared Dove (Garden #16) of the year. Goldfinches and Blue Tits were the most regular visitors but a scattering of the Woodpigeons had us looking up to see a big female Sparrowhawk (Garden #17). It cruised south but another appeared, a male, which climbed to a great height and started to skydance in a very dramatic and impressive manner. 
After an hour helping Wifey chain-saw a pile of logs - eeee we really know how to treat our lass on St Valentine's Day, and after a bite of lunch we got out to the nature reserve for a couple of hours or so. The aim was the female Bullfinch which has been seen on and off a few times of late - a pretty rare bird here.
Once again there was no sign of the Stonechats on the wetland, nice mild calm afternoon with sunshine we'd have expected them to be showing so have they move on already? 12 Meadow Pipits were circling around as though something had disturbed them from their foraging in the long grass.
Most of the reserve is out of bounds during the engineering works and there are maps showing where is open and where is closed - not that that makes any difference to the dog walkers, loose mutts were running everywhere!
A quick look around the viewing platform was very quiet and to our shame we couldn't be bothered to wait for the Firecrest to put in an appearance. We saw the diggers on the island in the distance but couldn't see any signs of new work since we were last here.
On closer inspection something has been going on, to the left of the machinery there's a row of huge Willow bushes missing in readiness for the new channels and pools that will link the large channel around the island to the scrapes.
From there we retraced our steps and made for the Feeding Station and general area where the Bullfinch (and Siskins feeding on the Alder cones) had been seen most recently.  The tops of the Alders were devoid of birds but the feeders were a riot of action with the usual common garden birds. We sat and waited for the star of the show. In the meantime a couple of newby birders came in to the hide and we spent a good hour helping them identify and recognise the differences between Blue and Great Tits, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings, male and female Chaffinches, and put names to very familiar birds like the Blackbirds, Woodpigeons. and Long Tailed Tits - very much taking birding back to first principles.
It's amazing how much you take for granted which is unseen/unnoticed by none-birders hints of movement giving away a position, a half heard call alerts you to another species, a flash of white in the undergrowth is a Chaffinch's wing bar or a Reed Bunting's outer tail feathers all part of the great mystery known as jizz which newbies haven't yet acquired but are a massive part of the ornithological experience.
Alarm calls made everything scatter from the feeders and a strikingly blue-backed male Sparrowhawk burst through the bushes to our left briefly landing on the ground at the foot of one of the bird tables, it's piecing eyes stared right at us as it turned and left as quickly as it had arrived. Too quick for a pic sadly.
The newbies wanted to see the waterfowl and said they might well join the volunteer parties so we took them round to show them the way to the Visitor Centre (still under construction), passing the area which was cleared of Brambles during the week - we stood where the new bench will be (hint hint Project Team) and pointed out Wigeon, Shoveler, Herring Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, Cormorants and the Coots they already knew. Just behind us down the bank in the uncut Brambles a Cetti's Warbler sang briefly.
From the rear of the Fylde Bird Club hide we pointed out the location of the new VC and went inside. Again there weren't obvious signs of excavations over on the island but we'll bet this time next week there will be significant differences.
There were no Snipe hiding in the cut reeds to show them just a Moorhen - which they already knew how to tell from Coots, a Water Rail screamed but didn't show itself and another Cetti's Warbler called again not showing itself.
Our new friends had to head off home but we stayed another quarter of an hour or so but little of any note happened, it was just a pleasant afternoon to be out, mild enough not to need a hat for the first time in ages.
Our time was up and we took the trail back to the Land Rover and just as we were about to leave the reserve we saw PL coming towards us. We stopped for a chat and wandered off together into the sunset.
Our ways parted at the Wetland, where minutes after leaving him we thought we heard a Cetti's Warbler calling down in the reedy patch by the allotment fence. we stopped and waited but didn't hear it again, a scan of the marshy pools didn't give the Stonechats either.
Back at Base Camp rather later than 'requested' we took Frank out and heard Jackdaws (Garden #18) going over to roost.
Where to next? Back to the nature reserve for a bit of 'Guide in the Hide'-ing. We'll have Frank so won't be able to go Bullfinching - he can't walk that far now.
In the meantime let us know who's making all the holes in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Interesting to see the photos of the ongoing work & the sunset shot is a belter.