Sunday, 29 March 2015

The annual path-standing jaunt

The Safari set off in horrific rain to meet our long-time birding chums for our annual aunt to the nature reserve which holds a few Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. We haven't had a motorway drive as bad as that for a long time. We arrived before the others and had a bit of a wait in the car park where the rain still lashed down in bucket, it wasn't looking good. The rain eased a little and that was the cue for the birds to start to move around a bit. A Green Woodpecker (125) was particularly vocal as was a Chiffchaff. The rain desisted to a heavy drizzle so we decided to don the waterproofs and have a mooch about to see if we could see the Green Woodpecker. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed and we got a decent view of it high in a tree, two down just the hard one to go and the others hadn't arrived yet. A Buzzard called somewhere over the tree tops and we thought we might have heard a brief snippet of Blackcap song, the Mistle Thrush behind us was doing more than snippets!
The others arrived and it was off down the trail to stand on the path for a while. Other than a small flock of Goldfinches and a Nuthatch it was very quiet down there. We took a few pics of the same Primroses we take every year.
With nothing doing we went a little further and had a look over the lake where three Little Grebes a few Tufted Ducks and Canada Geese were all that was on offer, on the other side of the track the 'marsh' hide offered even less although a Bumble Bee was seen. It was quite mild if still a bit damp.
Retracing our steps going very slowly past the Lesser Pecker zone we wandered down to the feeding station which was very lively.
Blue, Great and Coal Tits were regular visitors with Chaffinches and a couple of Reed Buntings and a bolshi Nuthatch for good measure until a Jay dropped in for a few peanuts. Another near miss was a possible Willow Tit that shot through without stopping. Under the feeders the pool held a pair of Teal and a Moorhen. Mammals were represented by two Grey Squirrels.
All the while our collective ears were open for the distinct drumming or calls of the Lesser Peckers -  but nothing! Back to the 'zone' we went again for another bout of path standing. But again we saw and heard nothing of note. Time for luch back at the car park.
At the car park we heard the Green Woodpecker again and this time it flew over us and landed in a nearby tree giving excellent views - nice one!
The rain had gone and the sun was trying to come out bringing out some Buzzards.
One of our mates had a friend of his leading a birding group elsewhere on site and it was at lunchtime we met up them. While catching up on all the gossip, they'd seen a couple of Iceland Gulls on the dump but not a great lot else, AK shouted 'up there!' 'Sand Martin' everyone swung their bins skyward as two Sand Martins (126) went over. The prolonged heavy rain had prevented what could have been a much better overnight migration.
We also kept an eye on the passing gulls in case one of the Iceland Gulls should go over but found a Yellow Legged Gull (127) instead.
After lunch it was all eyes to the trees and a bit more path standing.
All to no avail sadly. From there we wandered down the canal with the group in a strong wind seeing plenty of Gadwall, some Shelducks and a couple of Teal. We ended up overlooking the river were the tide was low and plenty of gulls were loafing on a sand bank in the middle. As soon as we raised our bins we spotted a 1st winter Iceland Gull sat right on the front of the flock. Apparently this was a different one to the others seen earlier.
By know we'd run out of time and had to forgo the excellent farmland area. Our day had come to an end far too soon so it was time to say our goodbyes and plan our next adventure - it'll be something to do with warblers.
Today we had a lunchtime event on the beach with a gang of kids. It was cold and horrendously windy and not conducive to enjoying a couple of hours beachcoming and rockpooling. 
We weren't out very long at all, far less than we'd arranged, and only found a small Brown Shrimp, a Gammerid type shrimp and a nice Blunt Gaper Shell.
With a bit of time on our hands we went to the nature reserve for a quick look. Again the wind was putting the mockers on everything although the sun was out it wasn't warm.
Bottoms up!
We were pleased to find our first flowering Snakeshead Fritillary out but not yet fully open. The Cowslips aren't quite out yet either, another couple of days of sunshine should do it.
A long shot - we didn't want to go onto the meadow for fear of accidentally standing on any not yet with a obvious flower bud
 The Sand Martin bank is all but finished - all we need now are the birds!
Where to next? More Patch 2 stuff tomorrow - hope that strong wind's died down.
In the meantime let us know who wasn't for showing themselves in your outback.

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