The Safari was fortunate to be taken to the nature reserve by CR again this morning. The weather was calmer, drier and there were even prolonged spells of sunshine. As soon as we entered the hide we heard a Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler but neither was ever going to show themselves. The low morning sun enhanced the bold autumnal colours of the reedbeds and with no human noise pollution to be heard the peeping of Teal and splishing of bathing gulls were the sounds of the morning.
Again we hoped the Bittern would put in appearance but it was too nice to warrant sitting in the hide all morning, a walk was required to see what was where on the rest of the reserve. A Kestrel briefly obliged before we heard the 'wack-a-chack' sounds heralding the arrival of a flock of about 30 Fieldfares and half a dozen Redwings. They landed a little too far ahead of us in the Apple trees but were flighty and moved on too soon allowing only a long range hasty snap at them.
We had a look from the newly named Heron Hide and saw it lived up to its name with two Herons sat on the edge of the reeds along the opposite bank, five Cormorants stood spreadeagled there too, either of these was more likely the cause of the large gull flush we'd seen through the scrub earlier, far less likely to have been the Bittern doing a fly-past! Now the very pleasant and most welcome sunshine was working against us; looking into it to try to identify tail-on gulls wasn't easy and not likely to be a productive use of our time so we left the hide and wandered slowly up to 'Teal View' where there were plenty of Teal almost on view tucked out of the wind on the edge of the reeds. The platform could equally have been named Shoveler or Wigeon View today as there were good numbers of both.
Conditions looked great for a/the Bittern to leap from the reedbed at any given moment - but it didn't. Another Cetti's Warbler sang briefly.
On the way to the Feeding Station a Goldcrest darted past us making good use of the new dead-hedge for cover. The Feeding Station was lively with non-stop action from the Blue, Great and Coal Tits with a supporting cast of acrobatic Magpies, cheeky seed-stealing Grey Squirrels, Chaffinches, a strutting male Pheasant and a Robin.
Continuing on our circuit we had a look at the gulls from the Bramble thicket but with no seat there and without our scope which we are still many days off carrying the gulls were too far way to do justice too.
Our next port of call was Ice Station Zebra, now to be known as Dragonfly Hide. Not a dragonfly to be seen but little did we know... here a novice birder was stood outside to get better views of the ducks which again included Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler. With the aid of our camera we got him onto this nice drake Wigeon, not the best pic of one we've ever taken but it was a Lifer for him.
Something flushed the ducks and we were treated to several fly pasts of the Wigeon and Shoveler which were also enjoyed by a couple of passing dog walkers who were interesting in finding out which species they were watching rather than the usual 'keep your head down and let your mutt disturb everything' dog walkers.
Passing some impressive patches of Shaggy Ink Cap time other Coprinus sp fungi and getting overtaken by a small flock of Long Tailed Tits we completed our circuit and had another half hour or so in the hide.
A Carrion Crow sparred with a Sparrowhawk giving great views ad entertainment. The Kestrel was in the field of view at the same time for a while too. A Grey Wagtail was heard close by, probably the one we'd seen earlier in the outflow stream, but it didn't land on the goalposts or down in front of us at the water's edge. Like Tuesday the sun brought out the left to right flying Wasps, what looked like a species of Caddis Fly was also on the wing as was a Migrant Hawker dragonfly. Three butterflies were seen, the last, a Small Tortoiseshell, almost joining us in the hide.
Lunch drew nearer, the sky clouded over ominously, it was time to go. Many thanks to CR for another great morning out even if the hand was a bit throbby this arvo.
Where to next? Excessive wind and rain may well keep us indoors for a day or two but we'll keep an eye on the garden - just in case.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the sparring in your outback.