Sunday, 6 September 2015

Out early on the nature reserve

The safari apologises for the somewhat abrupt previous post, we started it got side-tracked, pressed Publish instead of Save by mistake and then never got round to finishing it off. Hope you liked the tunes anyway, we really weren't expecting to come across them, didn't realise MySpace still existed! We had a bash on the drums with them at one gig at a regular venue, that pub looks to be closed now when we had a shuffy on Google Earth, the one round the corner they played a lot has long gone.
Last night we led a moth and bat night for the Friends of the North Blackpool Pond Trail, ably assisted by our Exrreme Photographer upon his hols from Pembrokeshire,  and we had a great time. As darkness fell about 20 folk of all ages turned up. Locals from round the corner who didn't know there were bats living near their homes and had come to reassured they would be eaten alive in their beds and families from much further afield. 
We set up the moth trap and left it to work its magic as we set off round the lake with the bat detector and our wondrous 'bat attracting stick'. There were a few distant Pipistrelles feeding over the lake which we couldn't see as they didn't fly above the canopy of trees into the still fairly light dusk sky. When were got round under the trees we had better luck with another Pipistrelle on a feeding circuit which took it right over our heads. The 'bat attracting stick' was brought in to play and within minutes said bat was circling round it only a double arms-length over our head much to the amazement of the group.
We let a couple of the others have a go but the bat was wise now and knew the mystery object in its flight-path wasn't edible so although we got great registrations on the bat detector it didn't try to grab the 'stick' again.
Some of the group had hung back by the lake to keep an eye on the moth trap and had had some great bat action over the water; with two detectors set at different frequencies they told us they'd had both Pipistrelles and Soprano Pipistrelles along with a few Daubenton's Bats too.
Once we'd exhausted all the possibilities of the bats we moved on to the moth trap. Other than a horde of crane flies there was little attracted to the light. Pot in hand we waited for the moths to arrive and we waited and waited. Eventually a Large Yellow Underwing turned up and then a Lesser Yellow Underwing arrived. The most numerous species was Square Spot Rustic put numbering everything else combined 3 to 1. 
After an hour or so it was all too obvious the moths weren't going to play so we opened the trap to see if anything has flown in unobserved, there were two Flame Shoulders and a Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Despite not many moths everyone went home happy, having seen and learned something they'd not come across before.
This morning we were up and out on the nature reserve earlyish, just as the sun popped over the horizon.
Unfortunately we hadn't beaten the dog walkers and feared the reserve had already been 'dogged-off'. There were few small birds about, or if there were they were being very secretive. Only Robins and Wrens were advertising their presence. 
Looking over the mere from the NW Hide the rising sun lifted a light mist off the water and caught the wings of two Brown Hawkers flying over the reedbed in a bronzy twinkle  - they were a bit far off but we should have tried to video them as they made a beautiful back-lit picture.
About two dozen Goldfinches dropped in to feed on the Thistle seedheads and our first Meadow Pipit of the autumn flew over north east!. Just before we reached the Panoramic Hide we had a stroke of luck, we heard a Redshank (MMLNR #99) call somewhere above us; we whistled back at it and it replied, a  few minutes of whistling between us saw it drop and fly down the mere turn round and land on the new Channel Scrape amid a bunch of Teal and Gadwall; great stuff last winter's works are starting to pay some dividends and do exactly what they had been designed to do.
Moving on we heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw a couple of Reed Buntings but otherwise it was still quiet. Getting close to the bridge and new stream we were extra cautious and were rewarded with a glimpse of a Grey Wagtail (MMLNR #100) pottering around in the new stream. That was the ton-up species for us at the nature reserve this year, hopefully there'll be a few more in the last three and a half months left...there's a Bittern in those reeds somewhere.
Round at the FBC Hide we couldn't find the Garganey but enjoyed a Mallard having a good rummage around in the patch of reeds the volunteers cut last week.
The Gadwall were flying around, at least 15 of them and hiding behind the Mute Swans were two male Pochards.
Back at the stream the Grey Wagtail was gone and we continued back the way we came and a had a nice bonus bird in the form of a Black Tailed Godwit which had replaced the Redshank on the Channel Scrape.
Even better was a flock of eight Siskins (MMLNR #101) winging their way westwards low over the scrub.
We had a few minutes in the NW hide where a rather chunky Black Slug was looking for something it must have lost earlier.
(S)he looked high and low for what was lost - at the same time!
A Grey Squirrel scampered down the path in front of us as we left the hide, its face filled with an enormous Blackberry.
Back at Base Camp there were bacon butties to be made and chores to be done but we did see a Hawker sp dragonfly which was probably a Migrant Hawker, a spanking fresh Red Admiral sunned itself on the garage wall, the only Base Camp butterfly of a warm autumn day. Overhead several Swallows seemed to be hanging around all day.
Where to next? Back on Patch 2 in the morning.
In the meantime let us know who's been looking here there and everywhere all at the same time in your outback.

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