Sunday, 7 February 2016

Ever been to Baffin Island?

The Safari went to meet, recently back in town, JH at the Starlings at the pier on Friday night but the weather was dire and access to the lower Prom restricted by the annual rally car race. The tide was out and the Starlings roosted on the beach before headed under the pier without really doing any murmuring. We left before the weather worsened and plenty more were still coming in as we drove away.
Yesterday morning we did the BTO Goldfinch Survey and counted an acceptable four - mightn't sound many but certainly better than the normal none!
After breakfast we had a day out with Wifey meeting up with our long-time chums over at the Place we do not Mention by Name over on the south side. 
While waiting from the crew to arrive we had a look through the visitor centre window overlooking the captive pond where Wifey practiced her ID skills using her new EDs. She found Pochards, Gadwall, Shelducks, Wigeon and even a Coot.
Female Wigeon
Shelduck again
Once the crew was assembled we headed out into the rain straight to the nearest hide where hundreds of Whooper Swans were milling around waiting for the mid-afternoon feed.
 Left over spilled grain from an earlier feed was being hunted down by a few Wigeon.
The flock of 3000 Lapwings held about 50 Ruff (100). Marsh Harriers and Buzzards kept putting them up making for a fantastic spectacle. We couldn't find any Peregrines but a Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance. Unfortunately the Barn Owls were out in the rain before we arrived but not when it was drier while we were there.
The volunteer in the hide told us where to look for the Tawny Owl and AB's astonishing eyesight picked it out hidden deep in in the Ivy at the top of a tall Silver Birch tree. Eventually all the group got on to it and we just about managed to get the scope on it. AB then said there were two up there! Tawny Owl (101) on the list in a tree only yards from the only one we saw last year, probably one of the one's we saw today was the same bird as that one.
Back at the first hide we watched a Marsh Harrier pull morsels from a dead Whooper Swan and looking through the birds on the mud we found a couple of Black Tailed Godwits (102).
The long staying Ross's Goose was also there.
Lovely looking thing but the million dollar question is how wild is it??? Every summer it disappears and every autumn it seems to reappear when the Pink Footed Geese arrive. Does it go back to Baffin Island or does it end up on someone's duck pond less than a hundred miles away.
It's been suggested we have a whip round for a satellite tag or pull a feather off it for isotope analysis. Could be a disappointing result...or...
There's never been a 'genuine' proven one in Britain could this be it?
Trying to get to the last hide on the reserve we were turned round by the ranger who'd just locked it up - we'd run out of time! Another great day out with the old crew.
Today we had a cold afternoon on the nature reserve starting at the Feeding Station where we had three Reed Buntings (MMLNR #66) and then a strange thing happened. A Jackdaw turned up, nothing unusual with Jackdaws but in all our years visiting the reserve we've never seen one at the Feeding Station.
Not many minutes later another little beauty turned up, a Lesser Redpoll (103, MMLNR #67) very briefly dropped down to the small drinking pool and was gone in a moment. We dashed outside to look in the Alders behind the hide but there was no sign of it anywhere.  
From there we went to look at the water to see if the Iceland Gull or a Mediterranean Gull would turn up. They didn't, although there had been a Med in the morning. It was very quiet with very few gulls about today. The best we saw was a Collared Dove (MMLNR #68). A Sparrowhawk worked the reedbeds waiting for a Snipe to flush, one did but was far too quick for the predator.
More bizarreness occurred when four Stock Doves left their usual haunt over on the big barn and flew round the east end of the reserve for a while almost looking like they were going to land at the edge of the scrape for a drink at one point.
The reedbed along the embankment didn't give us any Bearded Tits this week and there were no Mistle Thrushes in the 50 strong flock of Fieldfares in the field - the flock of 50 plus Linnets was nice though. 
Instead of going to see the owls, we were told the path was very wet and we were shod in boots rather than wellies, we double back to do more gulling but the water at the hide was devoid of gulls so we returned to the Feeding Station with BD who we'd just met. Always nice to see Long Tailed Tits but there was no sign of the hoped for Treecreeper.
Best now was a Great Spotted Woodpecker giving great views at the far feeder and then the rain started and it was time to go.
Not a bad weekend on safari.
Where to next? More weather is forecast so Patch 2 may provide some interest again.
In the meantime let us know who's unexpectedly arrived in your outback.

No comments: