Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Very early and very frustrating

We left Base Camp to the nature reserve before 05.30 this morning in fine spirits. But passing the big park it was clear it wasn’t clear there was a thick mist hanging over the lake and where our view opened out after the zoo the field there was similarly smothered in a dense fog.
Through the gate somewhere below us was the wetland lying silently unseen beneath its cold grey shroud. The air was as still as can be and even at that early hour the traffic noise was hindering our listening to the point of being very annoying. How the wildlife hears itself through the ever-present white noise we’ll never know.
Even trying to count how many loud Wrens were singing was proving tricky with the high level of background noise. Every now and then we thought we heard a trill that didn’t quite match the ending of the Wrens’ songs and it wasn’t until we were half way down the track to the nature reserve that we were able to positively pin-point and identify the singer, the reserve’s first Grasshopper Warbler (131, MMLNR #85) of the season. We then listened out for any other new arrivals but had no luck, there was no chance of seeing them visibility was down to no more than 100 yards. A Song Thrush sang loudly almost drowning out the traffic noise but struggling against the sound of an aeroplane somewhere - by eck we're a noisy species! Approaching the main gate we  saw walking down the drag towards us a couple of dog walkers with four unleashed mutts so anything grounded (literally) would have been flushed already and it wasn’t yet 06.00! It was quiet down the main path and we met another pair of dog walkers this time with only three unleashed mutts running everywhere, it’s not as it there isn’t miles of alternative paths and a huge field adjacent they can use but no the numb-nuts have to go through the reserve then get upset when they get told off or make shirty comments when we ignore them like this morning.
We thought we heard a Blackcap so stopped to listen but it didn’t give a clue as to its whereabouts – if it was one! The only birds really going for it were Robins and Wrens and plenty of each. At the gap in the reeds over-looking the back of the scrape we could just about make out the difference between Teal and Moorhens, as far as we could tell there were no waders. We don’t know what possessed us but we walked the length of the embankment, we couldn’t see far over the reed bed and the fields could have housed the Pyramids of Egypt for all we could tell looking that way. But walk it we did hearing a few Cetti’s Warblers on the way and about two thirds the way along our first Reed Warbler of the year (132, MMLNR #86) chirruck chirruck chirruck chack chack chacking away deep in the reeds and enjoyed the autumn-like spectacle of many cobwebs draped across the vegetation and hanging heavy with dew. 

We couldn’t see the wet area and floods in the fields although we could hear a distant Willow Warbler from somewhere towards the hide, so we turned round and made our way back. This time we did hear the Blackcap (133, MMLNR #87) and not far from where we thought we’d heard one/it earlier. Again only Robins, Wrens and Woodpigeons were really in evidence although we did get a strong whiff of 'recently passed this way' Fox.
Just outside the reserve we heard another Willow Warbler and another Blackcap – had we arrived a little too early perhaps although it was still far too foggy to see much.
We got a txt from Young Un AB saying he’d found a Redstart on his patch not far from work so seeing as how it was still early we decided to meet up with him. We’d only gone a few yards when we saw LR coming towards us on his early morning dog walk so we stopped to tell him about the Grasshopper Warbler. Our drive through town was fogless but as soon as we hit the coast the mist dropped again. We wandered through the dunes checking the isolated trees and bushes finding a few Reed Buntings and grounded Meadow Pipits while above the mist Skylarks sang from on high. Another txt from AB – he’d now found two Redstarts but lost track of them both, it’s a difficult place to bird when your quarry dips over a dune and is lost to view, did it go into the hollow or skip two dunes??? In the end we had to call it a dip and head off to work.
Once behind the desk we got a call from LR who was now back from the nature reserve, he’d had a Green Sandpiper calling, 150 or more Sand Martins with a dozen Swallows low over the mere and more Willow Warblers and Blackcaps than we’d had but he didn’t get the Gropper despite us speaking to him on the roadside only 250 yards from where it was singing earlier.
The morning developed bright and sunny so we took the opportunity to check the gardens out for any invertebrates finding a couple of Small Tortoiseshells (ore the same one twice) and an unknown species of solitary bee – time to start swotting up on them with the new book we got a Christmas.
Then we got more information from AB telling us there were another two Redstarts a little to the south. BD txt to say he was going to the big park to look for Willow Warblers and Blackcaps so we suggested he amend his plans - he did and not long after arriving on site told us he was watching the Redstart, we asked him to nail it down as we would finish work a bit early and bob down. A short wait and there it was, a superb male Redstart (134) on the fence only to be chased in to the scrub by a Robin, fortunately it came back out again clinging dexterously to the fence's vertical wires giving good but distant and sadly unphotographable views but hey-ho what a great little bird - a real stonker as they say. And we found BD a female Wheatear, his first of the year. 
Our Extreme Photographer has sent some snaps of his latest sighting, this time not from his garden. He says "

I looked at the map and worked out it’s distance from my location, as it was circling directly over a pointed hill it made the measurement easy. It was just over 2 miles and the light was fading fast."
At one point he tells us he had an Osprey and the White Stork in his bins field of view at the same time -  can't be bad eh!
Where to next? We might well try another early morning safari.
In the meantime let us know who's being far too colourful in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Cracking cobweb photo.

Lots of dog walkers yesterday, in fact at one point all I could hear was dogs barking, dog owners shouting at their out of control dogs & a very angry lion roaring which I always find a bit surreal.

Osprey & White Stork is just being greedy.