Thursday, 28 January 2016

Gotcha you sneaky bush sneaker

The Safari has been trying to keep an eye on the Blackbird that has been collecting worms. Not easy through the office window which has a rather limited view. Today we had a bit more time available for serious 'outside' looking. We'd been over to Patch 2 but abandoned ship as the waves started to splash over the wall well before high tide, so we swapped scope for camera and took a slow stroll round the gardens. It was no good, we could see the Blackbirds and watched them carrying worms back to the scrub but they never stayed out in the open long because of the constant stream of dog walkers. We ran out of lunchtime and had to prepare for our school group who were due in an hour or so. Luckily once we'd got all their kit out and prepped up the dog walking circus died down and the Blackbirds were staying out longer...
They were very wary and wouldn't allow a particularly close approach if they had any food collected.
We watched him back to the densest part of the hedgerow where we had no chance of seeing how many youngsters were being fed. Behind us we saw the female also collecting worms and she disappeared under the nearby Tamarisk shrub bed which was much more open underneath. As she went in another movement was seen, it was the/another youngster!
It's certainly an unusual sight but not totally unprecedented Blackbirds have been known to nest in every month of the year but January's probably not their favourite. We don't recall ever seeing a fledgling Blackbird in January in our nearly 50 years of wildlife watching. Lets hope there's not a serious cold snap around the corner.
Our school group arrived on time and after a few preliminaries started their observations, first off was the temperature - a globally warmed plus two degrees above the long term January average 9.3C on the field and 'in the shade' too, it was totally cloudy and despite the high temperature the wind felt really this arvo. 
Once the science was completed it was time to find if anything could be found in the crystal clear 6.3C water. 
It didn't take long for the first creatures to be brought to the surface, not surprisingly 3-spined Sticklebacks were captured first.
The were soon joined by front swimming Water Boatmen of varying sizes.
And they were joined by a multitude of snails including the empty shell of a large Ramshorn Snail.
A couple of back swimming Water Boatmen were also netted, they're hard enough to find in the summer here!
What a great gang of kids and hardly a moan about the cold.
Where to next? Hopefully Patch 2 will be come back into play tomorrow and the wind might just have brought something interesting within reach of our scope.
In the meantime let us know who's got themselves out of of seasonal synch in your outback.

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