The Safari didn't get out yesterday after a good friend's 50th resulting in a very late night and a skinful of beer, no we didn't sing!
We did do the Big Garden Birdwatch but our hour didn't produce too much, half way through we were upto the grand total of two Woodpigeons and a Robin. The second half was a slight improvement with two Great Tits, a Coal Tit, a Magpie, a Blackbird and on the garage roof after scraps, a Herring Gull.
This morning we did our weekly Goldfinch survey, finding not a one and only singles of Greenfinch and Chaffinch, a very quiet morning until a Carrion Crow came in, a rare enough event in itself but then it started to grab great beakfuls from the suet block hanging low down in the Crab Apple tree - wonder how often it does that when we're at work, we very seldom see them venture down into the garden.
Once breakfast was made and chomped we got out to the nature reserve, parking up we put on our wellies and turned to see a small red and white fungus growing in the crook of an Elder tree at the edge of the car park. On closer inspection the white bit was a covering of mycellium, is it part of the red fungus or is it devouring it?
At the reserve gate it's a choice of straight on or right, today we chose right and went to the Feeding Station first which was very quiet considering it was quiet chilly.
From there were continued round to Ice Station Zebra, living uup to its name today with the cold wind coming through the windows. As usual there was a good selection of waterfowl on offer, scanning through the Teal for a vertical white stripe beyond them was a smaller white duck, not a duck at all on closer inspection but a Little Gull (95, MMLNR #65). Something flushed the ducks but it stayed put close to the far side.
From there we moved down to the Bird Club hide where the usual suspects were on offer. We could still the Little Gull down where we'd come from. We hung around a while watching a small number of gulls coming and going but there was nothing of note to report to you.
From their we decided to nip up to the cottage where there are a few Tree Sparrows to be seen around the feeders in their garden. Once we'd crossed the bridge a familiar but very out of place sound caught our ears - was that a Bearded Tit we just heard? More pinging - by crikey yes it was!!! We didn't see anything more than a bit of an inconclusive flit along the back edge of the reeds but the distinctive pinging went on for about 30 seconds...Bearded Tit (96, MMLNR #66) on the list - get in. The last we saw here were at the end of the 1990s, not sure if there have been any since then. We walked up and down the reedbed but saw and heard nothing more of them - it sounded like there were two (or maybe more?) birds calling.
On the way to the cottage we passed a clump of Daffodils flowering cheerily in the winter gloom.
At the cottage a short wait brought good views of a couple of Tree Sparrows (97, MMLNR #67). They were too flighty for pics.
Returning to the nature reserve we took a detour round the outside to have a look to see if the Long Eared Owls were on show, one was easy a second was quite tricky being well hidden behind the twigs and branches a little higher up and to the right. No pics today - you've seen enough dodgy Long Eared Owl pics on here already.By now it was raining pretty heavily and was even gloomier. We walked back along the embankment naughtily playing Bearded Tit calls on our phone, there was no response but it the phone isn't that loud and the strong wind was blowing the sound in the opposite direction.
Back at the hide the Little Gull was seen on the scrape and it didn't look too good. But another something flushed the ducks and it lifted and joined the other gulls bathing on the water allowing nearer but only slightly better pics.
Lovely little bird, hope it's OK and just needs a bit of a rest before heading out to sea again - it would do well to stay a few days as there's more atrocious weather on the way this week.
As the light faded 41 Grey Lag Geese came in and with them was everyone's favourite feral the Bar Headed Goose.
The rain came down and it was time to head back. We stopped in the Feeding Station but still little action apart from five Moorhens??? Still no Reed Bunting for us. No Mistle Thrush either despite having a good look at the flock of Fieldfares in the far fields that they often join and driving up to the posh hotel where they are regularly seen on the grass verge...but not by us!
You see what you see when you see it and you can't see everything all the time, and if you don't get out you won't see nowt - that's guaranteed!
Where to next? more wind on Patch 2, will there be any Little Gulls out there?
In the meantime let us know who turned up unannounced in your outback.