Saturday, 9 April 2016

Hare we come

The Safari had a near miss yesterday morning. We were out on the seawall with not much happening at all. The tide was low and the sea glassy calm with a bit of a swell but nothing was moving out there at all, so little about that it took us most of our watch to find just 17 Common Scoters. Slightly behind us and lost high in the bright blue ether we could hear the odd Meadow Pipits and Pied (or should that be 'alba') Wagtails at this time of year, calling as they headed north.
All of a sudden we heard the gulls a few hundred yards to the south of us go up making a racket - gotta be a raptor going over...Osprey? Long flopping wing beats, but not an Osprey, a Heron (P2 #55) not the one we wanted but a good 1 pointer for our Patchwork Challenge, we've only had two others her over the years in 2014 and back in 2011. That makes them scarcer here than the Long Tailed Duck we missed by going back into the office too soon - darn that work, it really is the bane of the birding classes!
At lunchtime we had an errand to run which gave us the opportunity to have a brief stop on the way back and check out the local Common Lizard hotspot. Being the middle of a sunny day the hotspot was probably already too hot and the lizards were already active and not basking so not unsurprisingly we didn't find any - always worth a look though, like they saw if you don't look you won't see!
After work we had a date. We've been promising to take Wifey to see Mad March boxing (Brown) Hares for years and with reports of good numbers over the river this week was the week even if it's now April. She loves Hares but has never seen them boxing. After an impatient wait for the weather to improve last night was the night so off we went as soon as the rush hour traffic had died down.
Down the last mile or so of the lane we saw lots of Mute Swans in the fields and watched Lapwings tumble in their display and drove past a Buzzard on a post. And then we had to stop as she spotted the first Hare of the evening nibbling away in the field to our right.
Reaching the car park the wind wasn't too strong but had a bit of a nip to it so we were wise not to come earlier in the week when it was much stronger and the embankment is very exposed.
On the mudflats only 100 yards or so from the car Wifey enjoyed great views of Redshanks, Shelducks and a the first of many Curlews (Wifey #78). The tide was well down and most of the birds were very distant across the channel, but that didn't really matter we were here to look inland.
Plover Scar light - apparently slightly damaged after being hit by a ship recently
It took only seconds looking inland to find our first Hare, there were two together. In fact there were loads when we started scanning the fields, they were everywhere...but not boxing...yet...they were a little distant though, none were in the nearest field.
It was great to see so many Lapwings sitting on their nests, lets just hope they survive the inevitable 'agricultural activities' like spraying and rolling that kills so many of them before they fledge. Also brought home to us very dramatically was how they need to nest in high densities to protect each other. The Buzzard flew over and immediately there was a swarm of agitated Lapwings harassing it keeping it moving away from their territories, eventually it went and hid in a bush out of the wind having been sent packing with a flea in its ear by the vigilant Lapwings.
Also out there was an impressive flock of Linnets, hard to count as they didn't stay in the air long and were too distant to even see once on the stubble but we'd guess at at least 75and a smaller number of Pied Wagtails, again there must have been a White Wagtail in their number, maybe 20 or more but again too distant to tell.
We walked along the embankment a way enjoying the Hares and the views of the remains of Cockersand Abbey when a beautiful flock of Golden Plovers (Wifey #79) flew by, a shame it wasn't sunny to illuminate their magnificent plumage for her better. They didn't stop but flew way out over the mudflats unfortunately.
Wifey's phone pic
On the way back we started to diligently count the Hares, 15 was our best effort, not bad at all but although they were running about chasing each other we didn't get to see them do any of their famed boxing.
A Wheatear scudded low over the seawall settling on a tatty piece of saltmarsh just long enough for Wifey to get on it (Wifey #80). Minutes later she self-found a second on the rocks below us which was a it more settled and a bit closer, almost allowing a decent pic, but not quite.
Out over the marsh a Little Egret flew past, wifey couldn't remember if she'd seen one already this year. We saw plenty more in the fields on the way back for our supper. 
A dog walker came past and Wifey started to chat to her as we were putting the kit away in the car, it seems we might have found the type of dog to be the new Frank at some point in the future, Trevor was a little cutie. It was then that a flock of half a dozen Grey Plovers (127) landed on the mud a little beyond the saltmarsh, by chatting Wifey missed these and using our Swazzas rather than her own EDs that were already tucked away in the boot (trunk for American friends) she couldn't get good views of the small flock of Eiders on the river channel. We stopped for some fish n chips half way home just as the rain started to come down heavily.
A fitting end to a great hour out in the wilds - yummmm. Wifey phone pic
Back at Base camp a check of the spreadsheets revealed the Little Egrets were indeed a new year bird for Wifey (#81).
If you've come across this googling 'Hare' and you're one of those scum who want to chase and kill them with dogs don't bother coming this way instead why don't you crawl up your own ar*es and go and die slowly and painfully somewhere well away from civilised society. Or you could take a trip to our mate's reserve in Botswana and have a go at running away from the African Hunting Dogs there and see how much fun that is...the outcome will be the same though.
Where to next? Back later with news of a high tide safari.
In the meantime let us know who's charging  around at breakneck speed in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Nice Hare & Wheatear pics, but shot of the day is a no brainer - the fish & chips is the clear winner!