Sunday, 27 December 2015

A very welcome break in the weather

The Safari, like many other folk has been undertaking family duties and thwarted by the atrocious weather. We have enjoyed a very pleasant festive week unlike the many not very far away whose homes have been inundated by flood waters by yet another one of those 1 in 200 year storms. With a sunny day forecast we resolved to get out as early as we could. It was only an hour after first light that we parked up and set off along drier than expected paths to the nature reserve. We'd arranged a possible meet-up with young SB to show her the Long Eared Owl so that's the way we went first. On the way we passed the greening Hawthorn bush we photographed last time we were round this way and saw another a few yards further on.
Turning round to rejoin the path we spotted that we'd just walked past a Hogweed in flower - one for the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt next week. We think it's late flowering rather than very early.
It didn't take us long to find a Long Eared Owl but it was too deep in the shrubbery to be able to photograph. We did txt SB to let her know where it was for when she visited if we weren't able to meet up.
From there we made our way along the embankment listening to singing Cetti's Warblers and squealing Water Rails before noticing the amount of water in the fields was more than we've ever seen before and it was nowhere near high tide yet.
There was plenty of juice coming over the spillway to keep the dyke topped up.
We'll have to take a pic of the depth gauge when it's settled back down to normal - if that's ever likely to happen again...there's another storm on the way.
Doing the circuit we had a look from the hides to find plenty of Coots and Canada Geese. We could hear Teal but there were hardly any Wigeon today wonder where they've popped off to.
Just as we were about to leave the reserve we had the bonus of about 30 Fieldfares and a couple of Redwings high up in the top of the tallest trees in the scrub.
After a bite of lunch CR invited us back out by which time SB had been round and txtd us she'd successfully found two Long Eared Owls. Twice as any as we saw earlier! We started in the hides seeing three Pochards which we'd not seen in the morning. SD left and then reappeared saying there was a drake Goosander further down the mere.  We could just about see it from where we were so everyone left to get a closer look at this site rarity. 
At Ice Station Zebra hide (not selling it very well are we!) we learned it had flown off while we were walking down. A count of the other waterfowl gave us another male and female Pochard, 16 Gadwalls and 67 Tufted Ducks. A Little Grebe swam past and we spotted a female Goldeneye in the distance.
The Feeding Station was busy with both birds and birders. A podgy Grey Squirrel had got itself stuck in one of the feeders and took about five minutes to extricate itself. A second opted for the safer uncaged feeding table.
With little activity down the north path to keep us occupied it didn't take long to get to the Long Eared Owl site. There we couldn't find the one we'd seen in the morning but saw the two that SB had found a few yards away - could there have been three on site today?
Bally twigs!
Back at our first hide we had another look at the water where there was a full male and a second year Goldeneye, the latter being the nearest but by now the light was dropping fast.
And the the light went so we had to too...still no Bittern though.
Where to next? A bit of a trip out up north tomorrow there might be a little time for some wildlifing.
In the meantime let us know who doubled their numbers in your outback.

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