The Safari wasn't sure if we'd get out this morning or not as there were chores to be done. But we did put the mothy out last night for only the second time this year and when we opened it there was the first moth of the year inside, a Hebrew Character. The moth list is on its way.
A Pied Flycatcher had turned up close to Wifey's work last night and we were relieved it was still there this morning, it was very tempting! We had to decline a trip to the nature reserve early morning with CR but when news broke that the flycatcher was still around we let him know and arranged a pick-up as he left the nature reserve and headed back our way towards this local scarcity.
Once on site there were Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs singing and we saw the Heron sat on the very low nest. A few other birders were already secreted in various parts of the scratty wet woodland but news wasn't good it hadn't been seen for a good while. All of a sudden a cry went out 'it's here', it had moved from the wooded area in to a sunnier glade at the back of the neighbouring gardens where we could occasionally see a face and then feet from a kid enjoying some trampolining fun - didn't seem to be disturbing our bird though. It was easy to see but not easy to photograph on the 'wrong' side of dense Hawthorn bush but soon moved into the open. A lovely little bird we see all too infrequently. Pied Flycatcher (139) hits the list. We did see on close to here many years ago, could it be a little hotspot but totally underwatched.Willow Warblers and a few butterflies including our first white of the year but too quick to be able to be identified.
Back at Base Camp we did a few more minor chores before being 'allowed' out again provided we called in at the shops on the way back so it was off to the nature reserve we went.
We thought about going to our newt-zone on the way but changed our mind when we saw the traffic and went directly to the wetland instead. As soon as we got out of the Land Rover a movement on the Privet bush alerted us to a Tawny Mining Bee, the first we've ever seen locally although CR gets them in his garden and was hoping to photograph them this arvo. We also saw LR with his dog who told us there'd been a couple of Whitethroats earlier in the morning. A scan of the wetland gave us no Stonechats but on the remnant hedge there were two interesting looking birds and we hoped for one of them to be a Whinchat. Wandering over cautiously one turned into a male House Sparrow, a Reed Bunting dropped in too but the mystery bird was mostly obscured on the far side of the vegetation. We could have done with being a couple of feet taller but it eventually gave itself up as a male Linnet which then dropped into the thick vegetation.
From there we had a quick look from raptor hill before committing sacrilege and going back on ourselves and walking the 'wrong way round' going to the Feeding Station first. It was quiet as would be expected on a fairly warm afternoon but a male Reed Bunting on the fat balls was something we're fairy certain we've never not seen before.
Butterflies were the most numerous they've been so far this year, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells were all over the shop but a couple of Commas were our first of the year.
From the hide we had a good look at the numbers of Lesser Black Back and Herring Gulls that were dropping in all the while but couldn't find anything noteworthy amongst them. On the scrape a Common Sandpiper (140, MMLNR #84) poked around until something spooked the gulls and they flushed, it took a while to find a soaring Buzzard.
The two regular Oystercatchers were back on the scrape again too. Three Linnets dropped in on the top of the island and the Cetti's Warbler fired up nice and loud but unseen close by.
MJ was on the embankment listening for warblers in the reeds and sure enough after a while sitting on the bench in the cold blustery wind both Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard if only briefly, the wind keeping them low and quiet.
The new hide attracted a gaggle of scrotes.
Running out of time again it was the turn of the shops so we high tailed it back to the Land Rover only to meet AM on the way who pointed out a Wheatear (MMLNR #85) on the top of a tree near the hotel. It soon flew and so we we after a bit of a chat. We were waylaid again by a local dog walker who has taken to bringing out her binoclurs now, she asked if there was anything about and we told her about the recently disappeared Wheatear and hurried on our way. At the top of the path across the wetland a Grasshopper Warbler (141, MMLNR #86) started to reel but she was now too far away against the wind to shout her back.
So ended a much better afternoon than we expected this time yesterday.
Last night we heard from our Extreme Photographer telling us he'd been on a twitch to see the Woodchat Shrike that's landed not too far from his cottage in the sticks.
He says the pics are thee best he could do as the weather wasn't great with drizzle and the light was 'pants' and the bird a long way off!
Where to next? Frank's not been so good on his feet this week so we may be housebound, mothy will be out again though.In the meantime let us know who's reeling around in your outback.