Sunday, 6 March 2016

A change of scenery

The Safari got out of bed way to early today and we perhaps should have gone out for an early morning look-see but we didn't we waited in to make Wifey her breakfast when she woke up.
We did get out just before lunchtime and made a detour to the large park rather than  head straight to the nature reserve. There were plenty of gulls on the lake but nothing out of the ordinary. A Great Crested Grebe was top of the bill on the more open part of the lake. The other part of the lake had a few Shovelers and a few more Tufted Ducks. It wasn't waterfowl we were here to look for though, we were more interested in what might be in the trees. Last week CR had had good views of Treecreepers which we've missed at the nature reserve this winter and now they'll be back on the much bigger trees here. A Great Tit sang non-stop for several minutes while we checked the tree trucks for mouse-like birds.
A movement high above us caught our eye, not a Grey Squirrel this time but something more interesting and bluer...a Nuthatch, then we lost it as it flew to another tree. This was good as they have been reported only very infrequently this winter. Fortunately it reappeared after not many minutes.
Look at that, it's got a sunny seed. It was stashing them in the cracks in the bark for a rainy day. Following it back as well we could through the twigs and branches we soon found where they were finding them. Many kind souls bring seed and fill a variety of homemade feeders and this was where the two, yes two, Nuthatches were finding the seeds.
Not the best of pics the light was dodgy (poor excuse we know) and they are quick little devils!
The seed ran out and they soon disappeared but PL came by with some in his pockets and scattered it around for the other small birds and the ever greedy Feral Pigeons. The Nuthatches didn't come back. They were, however, a tick on our Patchwork Challenge Marton Mere list but it won't go on our 'official' Mere list, the site boundaries aren't the same.
There's always a Robin or two on the prowl
And they aren't shy of accepting free offerings

We wandered through the park with PL coming across some Gadwall at the far end near the heronry, not many Herons were in residence today. this one was at the water's edge sunning itself.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming but we didn't locate it in the tree tops. We left the park crossing the road to the ornamental woodland. Here we heard a Goldcrest but again couldn't find any Treecreepers. At the old log PL put down more seed from his pocket and down they came in their droves as if they'd been expecting him including this female Blackbird.
Out of the wood we had a look under the wooden sheets to see if there were any early waking Great Crested Newts, there weren't but there were two sleepy Toads.
Wandering on we checked out the nearby Bee Orchid patch at the side of the path, we found four rosettes which was nice. 
Now the nature reserve was beckoning, we looked unsuccessfully for the Stonechat at the wetland on the way. Instead of going in we went round to look for the Tawny Owl, no joy but it's probably long gone. There was a family looking for the Long Eared Owls, they'd been told were to look from by another birder but couldn't find the owls in the bushes. We were able to put them on to one of them straight away, the other two were tricky.
The easy one, facing away as usual
We met up with PL again. this time with TS and spent some time watching several Buzzards soaring in a 'kettle' on a thermal reaching an prodigious height. Away beyond the distant woods a white flash from a flock of birds was seen over the trees. A look gave us a flock of Lapwings and then the white flock again - Golden Plovers, about 200 of them. Another Patchwork Challenge tick - you can count birds seen from your patch boundary, but again not an 'official' patch tick,, far too far from that patch boundary. Another 100 or more Lapwings were on the flood the other side of the dyke and two Shelducks on the nearer flood in the corner of the field. The Lapwings weren't calling and displaying today despite the sunshine and we heard no Skylarks. There were a couple of dozen Fieldfares in the nearer field but we still can't find a Redwing.
A look at the Bee Orchid area which has been mown, fortunately sparing the two Bee Orchid rosettes we found a few weeks ago. Coltsfoot was in flower at the edge of the meadow, the first we've seen this year.
A quick sprint back to the car in the park took us past the wooded area to look for Treecreepers again - again no joy but we did nearly step on some Dog(?) Violets we hadn't noticed earlier in the day.
What a cracking day out on safari.
Where to next? Back to see what's happening on Patch 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's been playing hide and seek in your outback.

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