Saturday, 21 March 2015

A right real warm spring day

The Safari missed out on the aurora in the early part of the week and yesterday we were all ready with our cards and sharp pin for the almost total eclipse of the sun but like the aurora cloud rolled in and we were unfortunately thwarted. It did go twilighty dark which made our two 'work' Robins sing at each other.
Today we picked up BD and headed to the salt-marsh where a big tide was expected around lunchtime.
There were already a few birders around and we started off by making our way to the wildfowlers' track where it took a while to locate the recently returned Avocets. They were very distant out on the river bank, against the light and through a helluva shimmery heat haze.
Talking off heat it was very mild, no need for a hat and out of the light breeze it was very pleasantly warm. Warm enough to bring out the butterflies, not quite in abundance but certainly more today than we've seen all year so far.
First up was a Peacock, found by BD, which was already warm enough not to need to spread its wings flat to the ground.
He also found two Small Tortoiseshells, again already warm and not showing themselves to best advantage
Not the best butterfly pics we'll take this summer but it felt good to get the first ones on the SD card at last. Another butterfly flew behind us while taking these shots, probably a second Peacock
BD's sharp eyes spotted a shed-load of Wolf Spiders scurrying over the dead grasses dumped on the strandline by the last high tides, there were hundreds of them. He also spotted other inverts nectaring on nearby Daisies, one was a Green Bottle type thingy, the other caught our attention more as being a rather small species of Dung Fly, certainly hairer even to the naked eye than the very common Yellow Dung Fly too, time for a pic if we could get one without disturbing it.
Not the best pics - forgot to change the camera settings from the butterfly shots - dohhh
You can see how small it is sitting on the central rosette of the Daisy.
BD had his eye in now and soon called out again, this time it was the first 7-spot Ladybird, then the second, then the third...there were at least eight or nine in the end sunning themselves on the Alexanders lining the stonework at the edge of the track.
The tide was now rising quickly and beginning to flood the marsh. Whooper Swans drifted downstream in the river channel, a Black Tailed Godwit probed around between the dabbling Mallards. Away over the far side a huge flock of Pink Footed Geese lifted and wheeled around for a few minutes. All over the place there were Little Egrets but we couldn't find the Great White Egret that occasionally sneaks over to our side of the river. To the right was a nice flock of Golden Plovers with some well moulted into their summer finery - what little stunners!
Exhaulting Skylarks serenaded us as we waited for the main event, pipits gathering on the last remaining few square yards of marsh.
Eventually they came. Meadow Pipits dropped in and pottered around but what, if anything, was with them. A call went up along the sea wall, Water Pipit!  Everyone made there way to join the small group that had spotted it but it had flown and couldn't be relocated. We found a Wheatear flying by and the others found a striking 'littoralis' Rock Pipit.
More Meadow Pipits arrived and all where studied intently but to no avail. Two Buzzards soaring around were the only raptors today, where where the Marsh Harriers and the Ravens? More Small Tortoisehell butterflies flew up and down the low embankment as did a couple of White Tailed Bumble Bees and a large queen Common Wasp seemed to have a thing for the gathered birders' optics and tripods.
Once the tide reached its peak and started to ebb the crowd drifted away and we did likewise. With hoisehold duties to do in the afternoon there was no chance of anymore ssafari-ing bjut we'd had a good morning out in the warm sunshine so despite not getting to see our target bird we were well happy.
Where to next? More of the same probably, that Water Pipit is still on the marsh somewhere and the tide is high again tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's escaping the rising waters in your outback.


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