The Safari had no chance of getting out this morning and anyway we weren't that bothered it was lashing down and we'd already had a soaking when out very early with Frank.
The rain had started early in the night so we weren't really expecting any migrants to have been dropped on to the nature reserve. so that was OK - no great panic. News was there were some Black Terns scattered around the country so one of those might have been a possibility. But it was all academic as we couldn't get out until late afternoon at best.
Mid-morning Frank needed to do what a dog needs to do that can't be done indoors. That gave us the opportunity to notice the opening Spanish Bluebells in the front garden and covered in raindrops.
After that all we could do was watch the garden and what was coming to the feeders. Both Great and Blue Tits came in searching for whatever they could find which didn't seem to be much, there must be some hungry nestlings out there in this miserably cold weather.
Watching their plight we remembered we had half a packet of dried mealworms in the cupboard so put them out, not sure if they're any good for youngsters but we put them out all the same just in case.
It wasn't many minutes before the first visitor came for a scoff, a dirty great Herring Gull was shovelling down huge beakfuls.There wouldn't be many left for the tits at that rate. Next up were the local Magpies whose nest is at the end of the street. They made the Herring Gull look like an amateur. The gull was too wary and saw us moving in the sitting room when we reached for the camera. The Magpies although still wary were more focused on the food and allowed a few pics to be taken from our desk in the farthest corner of the room hence the out of focus blind spoiling the shot.
Once Wifey was back from family duties we were allowed out to twitch the nearby Garganey but not before the kitchen was tidied. A few minutes washing up was rewarded with a monster mega bird in the garden, a male House Sparrow (Garden #27) landed on the fence. so what you may think - we normally only get one or two records a year, in June when youngsters are brought to the feeders for a couple of days.
Arriving at the marsh another car was already in situ. we parked a few yards down and very carefully got the scope out of the Land Rover and set up obscured by the bonnet for fear of disturbing everything nearby.
All manner of ducks were present, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal but not the Garganey. Waders were represented by many Lapwings and Redshanks and a Snipe. Over the water Swallows and Sand Martins swooped and skimmed but no Swifts had dropped in or if they had they lifted out when the rain stopped.
We stayed as long as we dared and chatted to another birder on a return trip who told us the Garganey was a male and gone to sleep out of sight down one of the numerous creeks - a dip it was.
Worse was to follow when we had a peek at the FBC website to find a cracking male Whinchat had been seen right outside of the hides and a Green Sandpiper had been on the new scrape - it's a long time since on of those was on the reserve. We would have gone there had we had the time instead of going twitching...dohh this birding lark can be soooooo frustrating.
Another new garden bird was added to the list when we were on the phone with our Extreme Photographer, Grey Lag Geese (Garden #28) were heard flying over; they've been leaving the school playing field early in the morning when we've been out with Frank these last couple of mornings.
Where to next? Off out with a friend on a mission tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the thievery in your outback.