Friday, 6 February 2015

This is getting beyond a joke now

The Safari shudders to think how many hours of our life we've now lost, probably well over 30, waiting around at the nature reserve for nothing to happen! We're beginning to think that the Firecrest is just a figment of other peoples' imaginations and their pics are just taken from the pages of a is getting that bad!!!
However before we get on to the 'woe is me' there's a few additions to the various lists and a close call to let you know about .
Yesterday it was a bit choppy out on Patch 2 but we managed to pick up a drake Red Breasted Merganser (P2 #24) flying north. More interesting in the distance out towards the outer estuary was a huge commotion of gulls circling, diving and chasing when the 'lucky' one grabbed a bit of what ever it was they were diving for. There was something going on but we couldn't see what. Every now and then a huge splash about 4 - 6 feet high and sometimes a flockette of Common Scoters would scutter spalshily across the surface away from something unseen. All of a sudden the gulls lost interest and dispersed and the big splashes were no more. We're thinking cetaceans sp but saw no breaches.
In the wee small hours that night something woke us and we could hear a Mistle Thrush (110) singing in the dark distance, end of the first week of February before we got that one, how'd that happen?
This morning we were able to get a short early watch in at Patch 2 and the sea was as flat like a carpet, you coulda walked on it it was that calm. In our first scan we found a Red Throated Diver and a couple of Great Crested Grebes but no dorsal fins broke the surface.Two white and two dark dots in the distance weren't gulls but squinting through the haze we saw they were Eiders (P2 #25).
There were thousands of Common Scoters, a very conservative estimate of 5000 all quite a way off shore but still no dorsal fins.
As we worked a long 13 hour shift yesterday we treated ourselves to a flexi afternoon and headed straight to the nature reserve. Walking to the Land Rover a flock of Goldfinches flew over our head (P2 #26), end of the first week of February before we got that one here, how'd that happen? 
The drive up to the car park had us looking at the dozen or so Moorhens grazing by the frozen pond and on the opposite side of the road was our first Grey Squirrel of the year. On the walk in we heard a Mistle Thrush (MMLNR #64) singing from just inside our recording area across the golf course. A Goldcrest low in the path side bushes got us a little jumpy.
A look for the Long  Eared Owls with LR was fruitless so it was back to the usual spot to wait/look for the ever elusive Firecrest. Apparently it had been seen briefly as we were shutting down our puter and heading for the door.
It was blissful out there, no wind, warm sunshine (well warm for February) and little noise pollution apart from the idiot repeatedly flying around the end of the caravan site in a helicopter, a light aircraft doing landing manoeuvers and a flippin Typhoon doing reheat climbs.
Under the bushes our friendly Robin begged for scraps and the Snowdrops are now in full bloom, unlike the Bluebells which have suddenly stopped growing, wonder why?
Most of the mere was frozen and the ice held a good count of gulls which we regularly perused as they came in for a bathe, hauled out for a roost and a preen and then went on their merry ways.
Other birders came and went too and eventually we found the Iceland Gull away down at the far end. Sadly we couldn't find a Laughing Gull, a Ring Billed Gull, a Yellow Legged Gull or a Caspian Gull, must take the scope next time!

We waited patiently some more and a Dunnock then a Wren arrived and eventually a Goldcrest which again got us twitchy. The best sighting of the day, apart from the Iceland Gull of course, was the five Pink Footed Geese that came in from the fields and circled low looking for all the world like they were going to land on the open water but peeled away at the last minute. That would have been something Pink Feet on the water here is a well rare sight despite them regularly feeding in the fields only a few hundred yards away.
More birders came and went and some of the originals returned but still the little so n so didn't show itself. Eventually we were left on our own but we couldn't stand there much longer, the mind was willing but the toes were weak!
A small portion of the gull heaven - but a scope would be handy!
We drifted off as the gulls began to leave leaving the Firecrest to come out and do its hat and cane routine to an audience of none.
Over the wetland a flock of Jackdaws (MMLNR #65) chacked loudly as they went to roost, end of the first week of February before we got that one here, how'd that happen?
Where to next? More of the same a little after first light tomorrow!
In the meantime let us know who's stopped growing in the cold in your outback.

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