Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Base Camp update

The Safari hasn't had the most exciting of times these last couple of days. The weather  has taken a turn for the worse, we've lost the sun and gained a strong and chilly breeze, not really conducive to sitting outside. However it hasn't been all bad it's just that the highlights have been fewer and we've had to wait for them!
The sun was still shining yesterday morning bringing a Large White butterfly into the garden and then another and another, or possibly the same one doing a circuit. Eventually one/it settled to nectar on an Aubretia flower growing in one of Wifey's tubs. It was away withing seconds so no chance of a pic.
One of the pressies we received for Christmas was a year's subs to Birdwatch magazine, every month they have a competition which we don't normally enter. April's competition was different, it was for a Hawke telescope and seeing how Wifey has  been enjoying using her Hawke EDs we entered. After being away for well over a week and then going into hossy we thought we'd best check and delete some emails. One was from Heather, at first we thought it was someone we knew wanting to meet up for an exiting safari somewhere or other; but no  it wasn't that Heather it was Heather from the magazine - we'd WON!!! We never win anything ever, so much so that we probably paid for the 2012 Olympics alone with all our failed lottery tickets...And this was her second email as we'd not responded to the first seeing as how we were mostly incommunicado down in Cornwall. 
Mid-mornig there was a knock on the door we answered to see a cheery chappy holding a reasonably sized parcel...Unpacking it one handed took a good while but we got there in the end.
Thank you Birdwatch mag and Hawke optics
We have a cunning plan for it...
Just about the last of the sunshine brought a dragonfly racing over the fence and hovering far too briefly over the pond before shooting off into the clear blue sky beyond the garage roof. The action happened so fast we didn't get a really good look at it but it was probably a 4-Spotted Chaser, an extremely rare visitor to Base Camp - we haven't even had sight nor sign of any damselflies yet.  
That was the end of the sunshine and any further excitement until the male House Sparrow put in  a similarly brief appearance although he did  land on the mixed seed feeder and grab a beakful so hopefully he'll be back more regularly in the near future...with wife n kids in tow???
While pottering around in the garden with Wifey inspecting her pot plants after tea we heard a Swift screaming nearby but didn't see it. More thrilling was seeing the first bat of the year at Base Camp as darkness fell and we were out inspecting Wifey's multi-coloured forever-changing LED garden lamps. We're not certain but think it might well have come from the bat box our Extreme Photographer put up a couple of years ago.
Tonight's job will be to test our hypothesis...provided the bat(s?) play ball and decide to show themselves - it's pretty darned cold out there today!
So darned cold in fact that we've seen virtually nothing through the window, far too cold to sit outside. Early morning provided the bulk of today's interest when a pair of Greenfinches turned up at the feeders, the male sporting a BTO type metal ring. Getting the number off it could be a project for the 150-600mm lens when we can lift the flippin thing. It might not be as easy it it sounds as half an hour later three more Greenfinches appeared, two males and a female, and none of these were blinged up.
With nothing happening we had  quick mooch round with the macro lens mid-afternoon
Common Speedwell, each flower is no more than 5mm across
The garden's first Ox-Eye Daisy of the summer - we'll get a better pic of the
Fibonacci Sequence as the disc flowers open fully in due course
There's little other news other than the Starlings haven't been back so probably can't smell, or don't like the smell of, the fat blocks we've put out for them. The only one that has returned is a juvenile that came to bathe in our ornamental waterfall.
Not from Base Camp but something that concerns us greatly was recent news of yet another Red Kite being shot in Yorkshire. What are these people on? They're a worm, beetle and dead Rabbit eating scavenger, no threat to anything...apart from worms, beetles and dead Rabbits. We'd love to see them in Lancashire but they seem incapable of crossing the moorland separating the two counties - we wonder why. 
Hall Lane is the short lane the poor bird was found crashing around under a hedge. What a shame - What a foul crime. The by far the most likely culprits are the Neanderthals involved in grouse shooting - ohh look there's lots and lots of ruined upland habitat nearby. For those that don't know rectangular strips of Heather (No, not our friend or the nice lady from the magazine) are burned in rotation to provide new growth for the Red Grouse to eat so there are many more of them to shoot than the habitat could normally hold. 
Nothing with a hooky beak or sharp claws must get in the way of those 'grice'. How can you help stop this carnage, not only of Red Kites but Peregrines, Goshawks, Hen Harriers, Buzzards, Ospreys, Golden and White Tailed Eagles (in Scotland), Foxes, Stoats, Weasels, Badgers, Pine Martens (in Scotland), Wild Cats (in Scotland - yes they even kill the rarest cat on the planet!!!) even seemingly innocuous Mountain Hares suffer horrendous and probably unsustainable slaughters (they carry ticks which could spread disease to the grouse). 
If you haven't already please sign this petition and pass it on - if you have get a friend or two to sign; lets get beyond the 100,000 signatures required to bring about a debate in Parliament and please everyone spread the word to your non-wildlifey friends, it affects them too through higher water bills (peat stained water has to be cleaned before it gets to our taps), higher home insurance (through increased flood risk) and increased carbon emissions (through burning on what should be active wet peat bogs) and more!
If an industry can't operate without the need for regular illegal activities it needs to be shut down ASAP. The more people who know how bad it is and how it affects them directly and indirectly the better. Our uplands deserve better than this shower of sh*tes!
Where to next? More sitting at Base Camp staring through the window - unless the sun comes out of course.
In the meantime let us know who's got the best numbers in your outback.

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