Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Safari had a trip up north yesterday in rather pleasant sunshine. The fields either side of the motorway showed plenty of evidence of the recent heavy rain although most of the rivers and streams we crossed had subsided to more normal levels leaving hundreds of shreds of black plastic from silage bags suspended in the trees scarily several metres above the current water level. There were a couple of  Kestrels up hunting and several Buzzards soaring and sitting on fence posts. 
Wifey bought her new boots to replace her 17 year old ones that turned into flip flops on our recent visit to the 'owl' reserve on the South Side and we decided to try them out and start breaking them in on the short walk up to the local waterfall. The sun had gone in by the time we got there and it was very dull under the trees.
On the way back down we admired the moss and liverworts growing on the dry stone walls and then noticed some black slimy 'stuff' - any idea what it might be anyone? Something like Nostoc perhaps? The blob is about as wide as our index finger and was dribbling down the wall forming the blob on the underside of a slight overhang.
The drive home was less eventful but we did pass a field with a huge number of Fieldfares, difficult to count at 70mph even from the passenger seat.
After the rain stopped today we had a wander down to the nature reserve for a couple of hours meeting up with LR. It didn't take long to find a variety of plants in flower including Scentless Mayweed, Ragwort, Hogweed (a different plant to the other day), and well opened Hazel catkins.
We found one Long Eared Owl and a Woodpigeon doing a good impersonation of another. After a good look to see if we could find an more which we couldn't. The walk along the embankment was quiet with the fields now devoid of almost all of their floodwater there was no large flock of gulls to look through. At the spillway the water level had dropped significantly since our last visit.
We had another thorough look for Long Eared Owls inside the reserve was fruitless and there was little else about apart from a handful of Fieldfares and a couple of Greenfinches
A family arrived hoping to see a/the Short Eared Owl but didn't know about the Long Eared Owl so we pointed them in the right direction and went on our way. LR went off home and we went back round to make sure the family had found the owl. We had to pass the scarred Ash tree. We're not sure what the cause is. It looks like it could be scratches from a territorial Roe Deer, or a disease but perhaps not Ash Dieback, or another type of fungus - anyone got any ideas.
It was a good job we had retraced our steps as we found the family looking in the wrong place, we soon put them on to the Long Eared Owl and we were very please that the young girl about 7 or 8 years old was enthralled by it particularly when it turned to stare back at us...job done. They went on their way with information about where to find the Little Owl should it appear at its broken window in the barn and hopes to see the Short Eared Owl should it take to the air as dusk fell. Hopefully they got to see both.
Where to next? Might get out somewhere tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's got themselves out of season in your outback.

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