Friday, 9 October 2015

Last gasp success

The Safari was out at the crack of dawn again this morning, still on a mission for that once far more common bird. As night started to lose its blackened grip we heard the wink wink wink wink wink of hundreds of Pink Footed Geese coming towards us probably from their roost at the 'Place we do not mention by name' and heading to their daytime feeding grounds on the marshes to the north. A small flock of Tufted Ducks came zipping past low over the scrub from their overnight feeding on the golf course lakes. On the path by our feet was a very fresh Fox dollop still steaming in the cool morning air, it must have only been a few yards in front of us but we didn't see it.
We didn't go to the Viewing Platform today but went down to the screen at the newly named Heron Hide where half way down the path we just had to stop for several minutes and gawp at the sunrise - sights like that makes you feel good to be alive.
A Chiffchaff 'hweet'ed from the bushes to the right.
The colours changed and intensified as the sun broke the horizon. More and more Pink Footed Geese were flooding north all the while. How privileged we are to witness the massive skeins we have here; it's real wilderness, nature in the raw - just don't look up with your mouth open.
Continuing our mooch towards the bridge we heard a Goldcrest in the scrub and Cetti's Warblers in the reeds but there was nothing of note other than geese flying over. Although there didn't seem to be many about today one Robin gave an early morning photo opportunity.
Water Rails screamed and Reed Buntings bounced in and out of the reeds flying round and diving back in and sometimes shooting off to the south east, just how many were there? What there wasn't many of were Starlings we don't think we could have missed the roost leaving the reeds by getting there too late but we saw only about 200 come out while it was still rather darker than lighter. The lack of a large Starling roost doesn't bode well for Bittern sightings as we're convinced they are a main prey item for the later as it skulks through the reeds at night picking its feathery victims off from below...easy pickings and lots of them!
The bright low sunlight struck the dazzling white speculum of a Gadwall as it banked coming in to land on the scrape. Already there were a few Teal and a juvenile Moorhen skulking through the vegetation at the back - why are Moorhens so much more numerous than Spotted Crakes?
A small amount of vis started and by small we mean small with only five Meadow Pipits, two Grey Wagtails and two Chaffinches yep it was really that good. Out on the rapidly diminishing muck heap in the field by the barn a Buzzard was sat at the summit getting incessant grief from a Carrion Crow and Magpie. All of a sudden there was a loud whoosh of Woodpigeons exploding out of the large Willow trees in the corner of the reserve, a Peregrine blasted through them a fraction above the tree tops but without success - no breakfast for him this morning. Also exploding out of the scrub was a rather stout queen Bumble Bee with took off to a great height.
The sun was higher now and catching the taller trees showing their developing autumnal colours to great effect.
A flockette of four Pied Wagtails went south as did a couple of skeins of Pink Footed Geese, had they been to the marshes and changed their minds?
Outside the gate two Redwings landed in the scrub to our right, our first of the season. Further down the track almost back at the car we were bemoaning the fact that we hadn't seen our target species, Skylark, or a Bittern on Twitter. We'd no sooner pressed 'send' when we heard the distinctive trilleep as one flew over - result Skylark (MMLNR #104) in the bag at long last. Not 30 seconds later another one flew over!
In the Elderberry bush by the gate to the car park we found a Woodpigeon tucking in to breakfast - time for us to do the same!
As Wifey so rightly says the magic of nature is all around us, we just need to learn how to see it; today not a lot of learning was required the magic was very obvious!
Where to next? Maybe another early morning start tomorrow.
in the meantime let us know who's braving fire in the sky in your outback.

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