Sunday, 20 September 2015

The early bird didn't catch any worms

The Safari was at the nature reserve shortly before 06.30 this morning. with a largely clear night we weren't expecting a fall or much vis mig early on. It was darker than the pic suggests looking across the playing field at the sheet of low mist. Robins and Wrens sang all around and the zoo's free flying Barnacle Geese in the gloom passed over us to graze the field.
A couple of Blackbirds suggested either there'd been a little influx or moult is over and they've become less secretive. Our total count was only seven but that's several more than any of our recent visits.
Cobwebs festooned the skeletal Hogweed stems, we shudder to think just how many spiders must be out there...all on the menu for the Goldcrest we heard.
 We got to the reserve gate just as colour began to show in the eastern sky.
Minutes later we were at the viewing platform.
Here we heard the first two of no less than 10 Cetti's Warblers shouting at each other. A Sparrowhawk glided across the reed tops heading down the mere and a flight of Teal presumably came off their overnight feeding ponds on the adjacent golf course to spend the day in the safety and seclusion on the reserve and a small flock of seven Pink Footed Geese, our first of the season came over fairly low but didn't stop. The reason for the Sparrowhawk's trip down to the far end became apparent when about 2500 Starlings erupted from the reedbed and the Sparrowhawk was well placed to try to catch one for breakfast, we couldn't see if it caught one or not as it went behind the trees.
There weren't so many Chiffchaffs today and we struggled to find any other warblers other than a Blackcap and some 'tacking' from deep in the scrub.
It wasn't only the Hogweed that was festooned with cobwebs, the Gorse hedge was similarly bedecked with them.
Even though it was still before 07.00 on a Sunday morning the noise pollution form the nearby main road and someone's house alarm was horrendous especially when trying to listen out for high flying calling migrants. We are a shockingly noisy species and then some of us have the temerity to moan about 'seagulls'!
Wandering round to the reedbed channel scrapes there was no Water Rail on show today but three called for the reeds around the site and we continued to record the locations of the Cetti's Warblers we heard. Reed Buntings flitted here and there and we're not sure how much double counting was involved in the seven that made the notebook.
In the stubble field behind us two Herons stalked small mammals but we didn't see them strike at anything, a couple of Carrion Crows and a Buzzard watched them from their fence post perches.
The only Meadow Pipit of the day flew over, where are they???
A look over the mere gave us a couple of Wigeon fresh in, the first here this season we think.
Another Heron was standing sentinel on the edge of the right hand reedbed. In the overflow stream the now fairly regular Grey Wagtail was in residence.
Two Song Thrushes were, like the 'numerous' Blackbirds, an improvement on recent visits.
A aging Chocky Lab very much like Frank but a bit paler was refusing to go for his walk and rolled over on his back when we passed - we stopped to give him a rub and a tickle but it became too much for us and we started to well up and had to say our goodbyes quickly and leg it teary eyed into the nearby hide.
We didn't stay in there long and one the way out watched a flock of Long Tailed Tits flit across the path. The gentlest gust of wind sent a flurry of autumn leaves twizzling down like confetti.
Try as we might we couldn't find a Lesser Whitethroat or anything else other than Woodpigeons in the hundreds of Elderberry bushes all of which are weighed down with fruit this year. 
With all so very quiet it was time to leave,  a little earlier than yesterday, and nip back to Base Camp to make Wifey's Sunday morning breakfast.
At lunchtime we were back out again but this time went to the little woodland opposite the zoo where we sat on the bench by the fallen log that good folk put generous handfuls of bird seed. within a minute of us sitting down a pair of Great Tits dropped down to get a beakful of the good stuff only feet from us. It was then we realised we'd left the SD card in the laptop from this morning's pics...Dohhh - Not to worry we had the phone if necessary.
A Nuthatch (MMLNR #102) called from the denser part of the wood to our left, they seem to have become scarce, or very quiet, locally judging by the lack of records since last winter.
From the bench we walked further up the wood towards the Great Crested Newt zone, on the way we heard at least four Goldcrests working their way through the stream-side bushes and then a Jay gave us the run-around in the tops of the tall trees at the end of the wood by the golf course.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker called and Speckled Woods fluttered but at our amphibian area there was just one Toad.
Retracing our steps there was nothing new and it was time to revisit the nature reserve.
By now it was mid-afternoon and the quiet time of day for bird activity.  We decided to keep an eye on the mere and reed-beds. All the gulls went up of the water and local roofs but we didn't see what the cause was. A little later they lifted off the water but not the roofs and again we didn't see what they'd seen - hope it wasn't the very elusive Bittern!
About a dozen House Martins skimmed low over the water with a single Swallow. Just before we left a skein of about 60 Pink Footed Geese went south at height over the far east fields.
So just short of seven hours in the field today, all very enjoyable even if we didn't need the camera in our second visit.
Where to next? A potentially wet and windy Patch 2 visit beckons.
In the meantime let us know who's bedecking what in your outback.

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