Monday, 28 March 2016

Who'd be a birder?

The Safari was out early on Easter Sunday hoping that something interesting had been dropped by the overnight rain. We turned up at the nature reserve to find practically the first bird we put our bins on was a Black Necked Grebe, a great find but not a bonus pointer in the Patchwork Challenge. was this the same individual that was here a couple of weeks back? It was cold and quiet, compared to the sunshine of Good Friday, but the Chiffchaffs were making their fresh presence known. Down at the scrape we had great views of a Water Rail for a few minutes. Other than that there were just a couple of dozen Teal and a pair of Moorhens in the shallow water, no waders again today.
Moorhen and Teal
Down on the embankment there was no hint of the Bearded Tit. Several Reed Buntings, the ubiquitous Cetti's Warblers and another 'sharming' Water Rail were all that was to be had there. The strong wind was putting paid to much activity. No hirundines dropped in during a short, sharp shower
We decided to have a check on the Long Eared Owls, news on the street is they haven't been seen for a few days and we didn't see them on our last visit, but they could have moved. We checked their usual perches and then had a good look in nearby trees and bushes to no avail so it does look like they've gone to where-ever it is they go for the summer. Lets hope the come back and grace us with their presence next October. 
With rain spitting and not a lot happening we called it a day and headed back to the car somewhat earlier than we'd hoped. But we did pass the first Cowslip fully in flower of the year which lifted our spirits somewhat.
Today we had a bit of a plan but it didn't come to fruition, then the rain started, then let up again. We got wind of an Osprey potentially coming our way and waited at the bedroom window for it to appear over the rooftops to the east warning CR of its imminent arrival too. But it must have gone along the coast to the west of us as we didn't pick it up and nor did the local gulls.
A little too late in the afternoon we hit the road north over the river stopping first to check out the farmland feeding stations. The first had no food and was consequently dead, the second had plenty of food out but only had a pair of Mallards, skulking in the nearby grass, and a Woodpigeon in attendance - not the best start to birding afternoon.
From there we pointed the car way up north to the little estuary driving through some serious squalls on the way. And arriving in a serious shower.
The tide was well in and the creeks full to busting.  A quick scan gave us plenty of Redshank and Teal and not a lot else. It was on the second or third scan we noticed a Redshank walk in to view from round a corner, it looked well silvery, the Spotted Redshank (119). It's a bit of a local celebrity here but could do with moulting into that awesome black plumage soon.
Dreadful pic in the dark through the rain soaked car window
A look on the pool was unproductive, the water level was very high and only a few Oystercatchers and Redshanks were roosting on the islands along with a pair of Lesser Black Backed Gulls. A Little Grebe was the only thing of note on the water. No sign of the hoped for Kingfisher today.
Retracing our steps we called in at the saltmarsh where we didn't see any Twite but the weather is on the horrid side! The wind was cold and the rain stinging. A few Redshank flew past from their high tide roost but no Grey Plovers. In the creeks there were a couple of Little Egrets.
There were plenty of Oystercatchers out on the mudflats and a couple of them flew over the seawall and landed fairly close.
We didn't walk as far as we hoped and were glad to turn round and get our back to the bitter wind - if this is summer we want our money back!
A brief bit of sunshine brought out a singing Skylark and tumbling Lapwings in the nearby field - lovely to hear these sounds of spring.
In the distance the last squall had reached and covered the tops of the Bowland fells.
Wonder if an Hen Harriers will nest successfully up there this coming summer. Given the recent universally welcomed - albeit reluctantly by some - Hen Harrier (non)plan, we wait with baited breath of news of 20 or more fledglings leaving the nest and, just as importantly, surviving to return next year. But the plan has no targets and no time limits and no sanctions for those who aren't playing ball. After all the logo of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a Hen Harrier and the area is  designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive for its upland birds including the Hen Harrier. We do worry that the 'powers that be' will be working their socks off for the next few weeks to ensure no Hen Harriers manage to settle an make a nest! Time will tell, dare we hold our breath?
Take it you've all seen this pics (stolen) from Twitter of an Osprey caught in a spring trap apparently 'close' to a grouse moor. It looks 'legal' as it's on the ground but still not particularly moral and obviously indiscriminate...what bait was down there that would attract an Osprey?
Totally unnecessary and out of order by our self-appointed 'guardians of the countryside'. Please sign and share the latest petition to get them outlawed. We will win! Don't forget Hen Harrier Day 2016 - Sunday August there to show your support for our beleaguered wildlife.
Who'd be a birder? Over-excited by exotic summer migrants that will always return (or they better had), thwarted by bad weather and totally frustrated by criminal elements. 
In much more promising news the re-introduction of Lynx may be on the cards later in the year, assuming those 'guardians of the countryside' permit it and don't kill them of soon as they slink into the woods. Be nice if they could accept Beavers and Wild Boar sooner rather than later too.
Where to next? Back to work tomorrow so Patch 2 will be back in play.
In the meantime let us know who's been braving the weather in your outback.

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