Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Fun in the fog

The Safari has been fogged off and on family duties for a few days. The fog being so dense viewing any sort of wildlife was difficult if not impossible at times. The family left but the fog remained for a further day. Above the garden fog we heard skeins of unseen Pink Footed Geese and from the bottom of the fog-bound garden we heard a Goldcrest.
Yesterday morning there was reprieve from the fog, opening the front door to go to work there was an explosion of Blackbirds from our Bay Tree in the front garden. At least six flew out, not seen numbers like that in the street for a long time. Once at work we were able to get out onto Patch 2 for a look see. It was still quite misty and visibility wasn't great but there were plenty of Common Scoters in range to work through. Work through them we did and one small group held a rather paler bird but we had to wait a while for the swell to bring it into view again. Another glimpse and we got that it was a freshwater dabbling duck rather than a diving duck but then another wait for the swell to get which species...a female Shoveler (P2 # 70), a Patch 2 lifer too! While watching that a pair of Tufted Ducks (P2 #71) flew low over it, the first sighting of this species here since 2013. That fog really had stirred things up a bit! Even more birdy interest appeared in the form of a Short Eared Owl (P2 #72) flying south through the gloom about half a mile or more out so sea beyond the low water wavelets. A second Patch 2 lifer!!! It was continually harried by gulls as it wafted south, the unwanted attention had us worrying for its safety and we assumed it would soon head inland to the dunes before the river mouth but no it just carried on south well out to sea doing its best to dodge the gulls' attacks. While watching the owl a Rock Pipit (P2 #73) called as it passed overhead, a very late addition to the p2 list this year.
With a visit to hospital pending we took the afternoon off to go to the nature reserve just for a bit of chill out time. Walking from the car we soon spied the Stonechat sat on the highest twig of the largest bush along the far side the wetland. A Goldcrest was by the gate as were a couple of Blackbirds and a Song Thrush but being mid afternoon it was as quiet as expected, still good to be out though. A couple of Wigeon were with the Teal in the new scrape and rooting around at the back were two Snipe.
The idea was to wait out to see the Starling murmuraton at dusk. We met up with young naturalist SB who we've been in Twitter conversation with for a while but never met in person before. She was also wanting to watch the Starlings. While we waited for her to arrive we enjoyed pretty good views of a Water Rail from the hide, only to learn minutes later that SB had never seen one and by the time she'd got to the hide it had annoyingly snuck back into the reeds.
We had a good wander round the reserve together, showing her where best to look for certain species, where we'd found rarities in long past years - most before she was born, and how the reserve was managed.
As we were chatting to the current ranger a flock of nine Siskins flew out of the nearby scrub and a good 500 or more Starlings came from the direction of town.
The gloom gathered and more small flocks of Starlings arrived but disappointingly descended straight in to the reeds to roost rather than coalescing into a big murmurating flock. A Bittern boomed in the distance but unfortunately it was actually some strange industrial noise from the big barn. There is one on site that someone was lucky enough to see today.
Our time was up, SB had to drive home avoiding the worst of the rush hour traffic and we had a long walk back to the car. On the way we heard a Water Rail at the wetland, good to know they've discovered that extra habitat.
This morning we were at hospital early doors and were done and dusted by lunchtime
Where to next? Only what we can see in the garden for the next week. It'll be short one finger typed posts too if we see owt.
In the meantime let us know who's refusing to flock in your outback.

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