Sunday, 1 March 2015

A change of plan so no twitching today

The Safari was hoping to have a wet day out watching a Waxwing in Wigan, well just outside Wigan actually, but a late change of heart about taking Frank so far we decided to stay local and do a 'Guide in the hide' session at the nature reserve.
The first thing we saw once we were ensconced in the hide was the amount of digging that has been done this week. You can just about make out the much enlarged scrape area just in front and to the left of the machines, it goes well right of them too. Not sure if that's the finished level, we expect not and it's got another couple or three inches to come off yet as it looks to be slightly higher than today's water level which is quite high after recent rain.
A count of the Coot gave us 96 from our restricted vantage point. A commotion drew our attention to the Mute Swans. Near where we parked the Land Rover there were a lot of immature Mute Swan feathers indicating a tragedy may well have occurred. The adults were giving an immature some serious grief chasing it up and down, the male being extremely aggressive. The youngster is probably one of their brood from last year and it's time to leave and find its own way in the world - Pops is setting up his territory for this year so it's leave or face the consequences which may be dire!
Wasn't quiet ready for the action kicking off so quickly and snatched the shots - sorry
There wasn't much action on the water, a few gulls and a handful of Teal in the reedy channel to our left sheltering from the heavy squally showers. A Moorhen poked around near them and a Water Rail darted across the gap.
All of a sudden a load of gulls came in and more Teal flew around and a skein of geese lifted off the fields to the north west. The culprit was the local Air Ambulance coming in to land at the Hospital. The geese were the feral flock of Barnacle Geese from the zoo so we can't add them to our Patchwork Challenge list. We got a few distant shots off but were lucky they turned our way and almost came overhead before returning to their original field.
The gulls didn't give us anything exciting except a brief fly-past of the wintering Iceland Gull and very few photo ops until a young Great Black Back Backed Gull dropped in, look how big it is compared to the Herring Gull.
The Teal started getting a bit fruity displaying and calling for fun, one of them went the whole hog...
...but will they nest here in the new creeks and pools that are about to be dug?
A Great Crested Grebe appeared from nowhere coming in to hide in the reeds with a bunch of Coots. Seven Tufted Ducks and a male Pochard also appeared, two then another four Gadwall came out of the reeds and flew to the far end of the mere.
One of the male Teal came a lot closer, nice birds! 
Dreadful weather today with driving hail and later snow had us leaving and heading back to Base Camp after only three hours.
Always something to see whatever the weather and wherever you are provided you stick it out a bit.
Where to next? Back to a wild, wet and windy Patch 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's getting into the swing of spring in your outback

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