The Safari didn't get much on Patch 2 yesterday, the cold wind had too much north in it but we were hopeful for a Fulmar and/or some Little Gulls, no such luck, a Grey Seal was easily the best sighting.
Later in the evening we were out on the North Blackpool Pond Trail surveying for newts with the gang again. We arrived at the appointed place at the appointed hour only for a humungous sleety hailstorm to empty its venom on us so back in the Land Rover we jumped to avoid the worst of it. Good rainbows though.
Eventually the rain eased and we all got out and the team headed off, armed with our high powered torches, nets, bucket and notepad, to the first pond.
The first couple of ponds didn't give us much and there was more damage from fishermen destroying aquatic vegetation and smashing trees to get better access to their quarry. On one of the Biological Heritage Sites some numpty has broken through their back fence and started a flipping garden planting all sorts of unwanted shrubs, built a path to the pond and put out rabbit hutches - they'll have to go! Apparently its all OK as they 'like wildlife' and have put up a nest box.
Overturning an old pallet dumped in the water we came across a load of Caddis Fly larvae attached to its underside. On closer inspection the cases were all made out of tiny shells.
|Not the best pic as it was pitch black but you can see a shell at the bottom end|
A few Pipistrelle bats were good to see, not had many so far this year. More rummaging around in the dark gave us a couple of Frogs and at least two Water Scorpions, great beasts - breath through their arse you know! A dumped old mattress had no fewer than eight Toads underneath it but still we couldn't find a newt. The next pond a short distance away was scanned with the lamps and quite unexpectedly a Water Rail swam from the middle of the water to the overhanging bushes to get out of the light. A migrant stuck by the bad weather or a sneaky resident - one was seen not too far from where we were only a week or so back...same one???
Eventually a Smooth Newt was found but not by us, we can't climb the fences too well these days and this pond was behind the only fence. Our 'bob-on' Great Crested Newt pond failed to produce but that was probably down to the recent cold weather and the horrendous cold rainstorm. We found hardly any Smooth Newt eggs, we'd have expected many more by now but there's still not much vegetation for them to lay on.
Today on Patch 2 the easterly wind the sea was flat calm and viewing conditions a lot better but there still wasn't much to see. The (or another) Grey Seal was about and we had a small number of Red Throated Divers including one in summer plumage reasonably close in. A group of Sandwich Terns passed by fishing as they went catching tiddlers of a too-far-away-to-tell species.
A look at the FBC website mid-afternoon showed us that Young Un AB had seen a Whinchat and Wheatear on the reserve just down the road from work. So as soon as the 'bell went' we were out of work and on the road. A quick look round gave us the impression we'd missed them and they'd moved on which was a shame as we didn't have much time for a prolonged search. But then we had a bit of luck when we saw a movement on the fence-line alongside the railway that was the Wheatear, they hadn't gone. Turning round we saw a similar movement - the Whinchat (150). We cautiously walked closer but it was very skittish, eventually we got the best pic we were going to get.
Where to next? We've got a couple of irons in the safari's camp-fire for the holiday weekend.
In the meantime let us know who's been gracing your outback with their presence today.