The Safari didn't get out yesterday until about lunchtime, we parked up and straight away bumped into AL who was just leaving the reserve, "Owt about?" we asked "Nah, just a load of Chiffchaffs and not a lot else". "No Willow Warblers?" "Didn't hear a single one!" And with that he was off to the pub. Seconds later we got a txt from SD saying he was on Patch 2 and an Osprey had just flown over him. We ran to the middle of the field and put the bins on the tower but then noticed a shed load of gulls going up a little way to the north, probably about the start of Chat Alley, the lower sky here was obscured a by tall trees and the narby hotel so we missed yet another Osprey this spring, how many's that now 4, 5?
Starting our walk proper we went around the outside of the reserve listening to several Chiffchaffs on the way but only really getting glimpses of them when we stopped to look for one. We anted to see if the Long Eared Owls were still on site, arriving at the spot we were a little disappointed to find the 'easy' one wasn't there but a quick scan with the bins gave us the one that normally sits behind it and then the tricky one which was extremely tricky this time. But there was a big bonus, the first one was facing us AND had its eyes wide open, the first time we've seen it like this all winter! Could the camera (which is playing up after a recent soaking) find it and focus??? Yes it could!!!
We were able to show a young lad and his mum the pic on the camera and wished we'd taken our scope so he could see it for himself, we hope he googled it when he got home like he said he would.
On we strolled into the reserve and along the embankment, all quiet along there apart from a couple of Cetti's Warblers.
The gulls on the mere went up and we scanned hopefully but found the cause of the consternation was the regular Buzzard not an Osprey.
The flood in the nearest field has dried to a soggy mud but still looks good for stuff to come in and hunt flies and other invertebrates but it was devoid of bird-life as was the stubble beyond it and the still very wet floods in the field the other side of the dyke. All we could find of note in the stubble field was a solitary Stock Dove.
From the trees by the bridge (there's a songbird who sings...) we heard our first Willow Warbler (130, MMLNR #84) of the year and then heard another somewhere in the scrub near the hide. At the hide we met MJ and EP who hadn't seen too much of seasonal interest other than the nearby Willow Warbler and several Chiffchaffs, it was still more wintry fare out there although numbers of waterfowl are now well down with four Goldeneyes, 16 Tufted Ducks, and just eight each of Teal and Mallard. A Coot sitting tight on its nest and the occasional passing butterfly told us it was really spring after all. All of a sudden a Heron came and landed on the 'goalposts' it's only very rarely that we see them on there. It looked like it had seen something in the reedbed to the right and eventually flopped down into rather deep water for a closer look.
MJ and EP went off to look for Water Pipits while we continued our circuit in the warm spring sunshine, well it was warm if you were out of the increasingly strong easterly breeze, that had a bit of an edge too it.
On the lawn there were several Rabbits that were nibbling away totally un-phased by the numerous passing humans and their dogs.
Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies fluttered along the sunny edge of the lakeside scrub but we're still to come across a Comma this season and a Brimstone here would be a very nice bonus, they're still barely annual on site.
We weren't too chuffed with the Rabbits a little further on, a look at the wet meadow showed that they'd nibbled off several of the Snakeshead Fritillary flowers. We snuck carfefully into the meadow and was disappointed to see bicycle tracks all over the place in there, people don't seem to understand that a fence means you shouldn't enter any more, there were foot prints all over the place too and several of the Snakeshead Fritillaries and Cowslips had been trodden on as well as ravaged by the Rabbits.
At the hide we sa tand watched the gulls coming and going without finding anything out of the ordinary until an all black billed winter plumaged Black Headed Gull had us getting a bit twitchy for a while. outside a Wren sang loudly and then we spotted it on the window sill when it flew into the hide. up it went to a nest and out again in a tiny brown blur.
We waited ages camera poised ready for action and when it returned we fired off a few dreadful shots at only 1/8th of a second, maybe we should have used the flash eh?
The Wren doesn't appear to be carrying any food and this is deffo a male bird as we've seen it singing so this might only be one of several 'cock' nests that its made of which his mate will chose the one she likes best to raise their brood in - good luck to them we hope they have a good season.
From there we went round the other side only stopping very briefly at the Feeding Station, we wanted to watch somewhere were there was plenty of sky and were rewarded by the gulls find another Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk but no Ospreys.
Down the path a bit the Gorse we planted many years ago was looking good if being blown about a bit in the wind. Standing in the lea of it the whiff of Coconut coming from the flowers on the breeze was gorgeous. Sadly we doubt if any of the several passers-by noticed the somewhat exotic fragrance.
And looking into the sun across the mere the light catching the tops of the old reeds and giving them a silvery wash was gorgeous too.
Just outside the reserve gate we were rewarded with the only butterfly we saw stationary all afternoon and overhead a flock of about 25 Sand Martins appeared, but no Swallows or House Martins for us yet.
Back at Base Camp a little later we discovered there were two Ospreys fishing in the river near the bridge we'd taken Wifey across on the way to see her Hares.
Our Extreme Photographer has sent some more snaps from his garden in south west Wales.
|Male Sparrowhawk, taken through his non-opening kitchen window|
He's got some pics of non-garden birds for you coming shortly.
Where to next? We hope there's more on Patch 2 tomorrow than the single Herring Gull, single Lesser Black Backed Gull, two Eiders and two Pied Wagtails today. But a walk up to the shops did give us a Great Tit for our Patchwork Challenge tally but not our Patch 2 tally.
In the meantime let us know who's giving you the runaround in your outback.