Saturday, 19 March 2016

Dawn duet

The Safari is getting rather concerned about the dawn chorus round here, it's sadly become just a slanging match between two Blackbirds. We lay in bed in the pre-dawn darkness straining our ears to hear any other birds but couldn't.
Unable to sleep we got up early and went to the nature reserve, getting there for about 06.15. Thankfully there was, a little more bird song to be heard. We didn't see the Barn Owl over the wetland this morning and sort of started our watching down at the far end where we saw that there are now six completed ponds. On the wet area of the field beyond the dyke four male Pied Wagtails ran about but there was no sign of any Wheatears or waders. A thin 'seeeep' over our head made us look up to see two Redwings (115, MMLNR #81) heading south east, beyond them in the tall trees we counted 21 Fieldfares. Cetti's Warblers, Reed Buntings and the Skylark were all singing as we wandered over the bridge and round to the hide passing the pair of Kestrels and three Long Tailed Tits on the way. 
From the hide we looked into the scrape to see if there were any waders present, other than the now regular pair of Oystercatchers there wasn't, there wasn't much at all. About 30 Teal, four Gadwall, eight Shoveler, a couple of Mallards and eight Cormorants sat on the remains of the old bund were all we could see.
The digger that dug the ponds was parked up on the opposite bank all boarded up when we spotted a Blue Tit land on it and start inspecting all its nooks and crannies. It soon moved on finding either no spiders or no potential nesting crevices.
We made our way back the way we'd come and bumped into LR on his early morning dog walk. In the distance we saw that another digger was being unloaded at the main gate - working on a Saturday, could be interesting!
The two diggers were to work  in tandem clearing the area of dense reeds in front of the new hide.
Tracking out and testing the depth
The first mouthful
A few minutes later
It wasn't long after the pic above was taken that the Bittern fluttered up out of the reeds no more than 20 yards from the bucket and flew behind the digger to land not far away in the reeds to the left.
The machine got quite a way out
The dug reed was pushed shorewards where the second digger scraped it up onto the bank
From the viewing platform we watched a pair of Sparrowhawks sky-diving with AH and AL but otherwise it was quiet. Breakfast now beckoned so it was time to nick off and think about coming back later.
An errand had us nipping out to the shops which gave us the opportunity to have a look at Chat Alley. The tide was just about to drop off the wall giving us the chance to count 52 Redshanks before they left their roost on the wall. There were only eight Turnstones and no sign of any Purple Sandpipers. Walking along the clifftop path we looked down at the rocks but didn't see any Wheatears. Out to see was a raft of Eiders but nothing else within range of our bins.
At one of the massive sets of steps a Pied Wagtail dropped in had a quick sing-song and then carried on northwards.

There were no other migrants other than a single flock of about 10 Meadow Pipits.
By mid-afternoon we were able to have another visit to the nature reserve. Mid-afternoon isn't the best time for bird activity but there were a few unidentified Bumble Bees on the wing despite it still being quite cool. The gate was closed and the digger drivers' van had gone so we made bee-line for the hide to see how far they'd got with the clearing...quite a lot as it happens.
A party of Grey Lag  Geese, a pair of Mallards and a Coot were chewing on the broken Phragmites roots....if a bird can chew!
But what did it look like from the other side? Only one way to find out...keep walking! Passing the field we now counted an improved 36 Fieldfares and the two Oystercatchers had move to there from the scrape. Still no Wheatears or waders in the wet bits though. 
A look across to the scrape revealed no waders there either, a Little Ringed Plover would have been nice, but the hide does look good now.
A Willow tree has gone missing at the right hand end of the mud but the Cetti's Warblers will still be able to nest in it ass the brash has been piled up, it'll probably resprout in all that fertiliser too.
And will this feat of real estate engineering be colonised this season? Hope so!
After a chat with MMcG we had a shuffy at the Snake's Head Fritillaries, a few flower buds but still a good way off opening, need a bit of sun on them really. By now time was pushing on so we made tracks to the car stopping briefly at the Feeding Station where we watched a Reed Bunting just about bury itself in seeds. There's a rot hole in the top of the post that gets filled with seeds and it seems to have dug itself down into it.
So that was a few mmore miles walked and a few more birds and other interesting stuff seen.
Where to next? More of the same perhaps or maybe a bit further afield.
In the meantime let us know who's playing in the mud in your outback

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