The Safari has had two hats on today, this morning we teamed up with another Fylde Amphibian and Reptile Group member and got an hour or so's clearing work done at a local pond. we think, and could be totally wrong, that the lack of Frogs and spawn there could have been due to the weather warming up a bit and then going quiet cold overnight, some chilly frosts in the small hours here on recent nights.
Anyway despite there only being two of us we got the necessary work done and had a look round so with time on our hands we took the tools back to nature reserve and set off on a wander round.
With our FARG hat still on we had a look under the refugium here too but again it was devoid of life below.
In the distance we could hear a motorbike being razzed loudly and had a bit of a shock when this pillock came round the bend at breakneck speed - really glad we weren't closer to the corner.
Think the bike decal ends in 'ermann' - any mini-moto afficionados out there?
He came back a few minutes later with his friend also on the bike, again they came straight along the path at at speed straight towards us this time whizzing past so close they knocked the camera from our hand, not sure if he was trying to grab it. After a mouthful of abuse for standing in his way - on a Public Footpath! - we started to phone the Police and that was their cue to leave and thankfully not come back. We later heard that two motorbikes were on the reserve yesterday evening.
With the noise machine gone peace reigned again and we continued our walk, noting the many Cetti's Warblers strident bursts of song.
As usual there was no sign of any Bullfinches, they're probably long gone by now, nor was there any sound from the possibly still around Dusky Warbler, although that too may have moved on to pastures new a good while ago.
Rather than go down the embankment we thought we'd try our luck on the path that runs outside the reserve for a change and head back towards the feeding station. Was it a wise move, perhaps not as it was horrifically quiet, hardly a bird sound was heard and other than overhead gulls none were seen until we reached the horse stile. There we watched a Goldcrest at very close range and then it was joined by another - great to watch these tiny birds working there way through the scrubby trees. A Bumble Bee of unidentified species buzzed past them, a huge queen almost as big as the Goldcrests it seemed. We hoped she'd land on some of the open Willow flowers for a photo opportunity but alas she kept on going.
There's a pond adjacent to the golf course fairway here, just through the trees from the Goldcrests, one we only very rarely visit or even take much notice of, but today our interest was peeked when we heard a Cetti's Warbler fire up form there. Maybe we'll have to take more notice of it in future and it's good for amphibians so is worth a nocturnal survey over the coming weeks.
From there we headed back round to the reserve gate and spied PL coming from the viewing platform so instead of going straight to the feeding station we decided to catch him up for a chat. We got slightly side tracked near the gate to the viewing platform when we're pretty sure we heard the Firecrest call a couple of times but couldn't see anything moving in the scrub at all.
eventually we did meet up and stopped for a chinwag, whereupon he saw that the local 'friendly' Buzzard was sat at the top of the Hawthorn bush across the 'paddock'. With the motorbike, a multitude of unleashed dogs and a Buzzard in the tree there was no wonder there weren't any Wheatears in the paddock so the Mars Bar remains unclaimed.
We've seen this youngster many times before but never had the camera with us when (s)he's been this close.
The Buzzard flew of away from us so that was our cue to follow slowly in its wing-beats. We looked for the Bullfinches and listened for the Dusky Warbler again without any joy but did hear more Cetti's Warblers and a Water Rail. A look across thee scrape and the parked diggers gave us a pair of Oystercatchers probing the silty mud although there's probably not much for them to find it yet. In the distance we could hear the Little Grebe trilling away for fun.
In the thickest Willow two more Goldcrests searched for their miniscule prey, again giving superb views but no photo opportunities.
This time we did do the embankment and had a few unsuccessful stops to see if the Stonechats were about. A Kestrel teased the camera lens before getting bored of the game and flying too far away before we could get a shot off. More Cetti's Warblers were heard - just how many are there here and roundabouts??? Might be worth doing a coordinated count soon.
At the end of the embankment we had planned to sneak across the bridge but no can do the works have left it in a rather precarious position. You can sneak over but then there's a sheer drop on the other side. We opted for sensible and just had a look from our side below the embankment.
The works are coming along nicely and you can now see the shape of the new 'river'.
The right hand (northern) bank will eventually meet up with the vegetation on the bottom right of the pic probably just ti the left of where we were stood. The original watercourse will be blocked off and the concrete structure collapsed and perhaps removed off site. Going to be interesting to see the finished product.
Behind us we saw the Buzzard again on the top of one of the pylons that rum across the field, wonder if it had its eye on the dead sheep in the corner of the field on the other side of the dyke.
From the Buzzard we retraced our steps to the spillway and noticed there was a lump of something below the bridge in the old concrete channel. Time for an investigation...
A tidy lump of prehistoric Bog Oak, might well be worth saving for the new visitor centre - OK just outside it, it's a bit too big for inside.
By now we were out of time for Mother's Day stuff and had to scurry as fast as our little legs would take us back to the Land Rover and thence to Base Camp.
Where to next? The shop to but that blessed Mars Bar before someone claims it! And then Patch 2 for a look at what should be a fairly calm sea after the recent days of light offshore winds.
In the meantime let us know who's finally deigned to pose for the camera in your outback.