Friday, 25 March 2016


The Safari was out early this morning. We parked up and headed off to the nature reserve with birdsong filling our ears. Half way along the path we passed a little row of Hawthorns coming into leaf. Looking back the shrubs were bathed in the early morning spring sunshine whereas the other side of the path was still in the dark, cold grip of winter.
Once in the reserve a Song Thrush was singing loudly from the top of a shrub in the scrub and not many minutes later we heard our first singing Chiffchaff of the year. But we were secretly hoping for a Wheatear or some waders on the bottom fields so we walked quickly on. The scrape only gave us ducks, several Teal and a couple of each of Mallard and Gadwall.
A Chaffinch landed in the top of a pathside Willow tree and stopped long enough to allow us to fire of  a few pics.

A big Buff Tailed Bumble Bee was up there too taking advantage of the flower's nectar and/or pollen.
The small Hawthorn bush at the start of the embankment is a favourite place for Reed Buntings to hang out, today was no exception, there were several about vying for the top spot.
Not sure what this one was doing, the open beak isn't singing it was held like that silently for ages as was the spread tail obviously some type of display but that weird open beak???
Down at the bridge we hoped to see the Grey Wagtails or even, yes we were feeling lucky, a Kingfisher but even at this very early hour there'd been some serious doggy disturbance. Undisturbed in the reed-bed was the female Mute Swan sitting quietly on her recently built nest. We're not sure if she's finished building it and if so is it too early for eggs?
We turned back a few yards turned round and scanned the wet areas in the fields seeing very little apart from four Oystercatchers.

Behind us we were sure we heard a 'ping' from a Bearded Tit. We spun round and saw a tawny brown shape scud across the top of the reeds. Then it reappeared coming out and showing well hopping across the top of the reeds stopping here and there and calling all the time.
We then had the most amazing Bearded Tit experience we've ever had, sod the East Bank at Cley, the grit trays at Leighton Moss or the bench at Titchwell, the next ten minutes topped any sightings we've had at any of those awesome reserves.
The bird was very agitated coming close, flying up to 50 feet or more several times, calling all the time then dropping back down and as it seemed coming close to have a look at us. It even flew past us going down the far side of the embankment where the new ponds have been dug.
Awesome!!! Eventually it flew up after a small flock of Meadow Pipits heading northwards and we didn't notice it come back down - did it really go off with the pipits?
We finished the morning with a single Sand Martin (117, MMLNR #82) whipping through without stopping. 
After a brief lunch break Wifey floored us with an offer of taking us back to the nature reserve for a walk round with her - well that's never happened before!!! Being mid-afternoon it was quiet, or at least for us it was quiet, Wifey was racking up the year birds left right and centre. She even met CR for the very first time.
No Bearded Tits this time round and we missed the Iceland Gull by a few minutes but it was very pleasant, we were out about 4 1/2 hours - that's 50% longer than we were out on our own early doors - she must be keen!
We spent some time in the Feeding Station with MMcG who'd seen four very early Swallows.
What a great day out on safari.
And Wifey's year birds
Cetti's Warbler - 57
Chiffchaff - 58
Common Gull - 59
Fieldfare - 60
Great Black Backed Gull - 61
Goldeneye - 62
Jackdaw - 63
Long Tailed Tit - 64
Reed Bunting - 65
Sand Martin - 66
and she didn't quite hear the Song Thrush by the gate which went quiet as we passed and didn't fire up again for her. But there was a Collared Dove (67) singing from the roof of a neighbours house back at Base Camp for her.
Here's a couple of her pics from her phone
Lichens on an Apple tree
Blackthorn flowers
Where to next? Back again tomorrow, hopefully the forecast morning rain will drop something a little more out of the ordinary.
In the meantime let us know who's wearing the beards in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

A cracking selection of photos from a sunny day out there Dave, shots 4 & 5 of your Bearded Tit mega are superb - lets hope it/they are still around.

It was a pleasure to finally meet 'wifey' yesterday too.