Thursday, 23 June 2016

A safari back to the old days

The Safari had another moth trapping session at Base Camp the other night and what a cracker it turned out to be. The quantity wasn't over exciting but the quality was.18 moths of only six species doesn't sound exciting especially when almost half of them were Heart & Darts. A nice bright green Common Emerald was shown to Wifey, we didn't get this species last year.
And a very pale one we didn't recognise at all had us reaching for the field guide. Wow; a Miller, totally New For The Garden.
One overly well marked Heart & Dart look alike had us wondering enough to put it out for ID and it came back as a Sand Dart, another New For The Garden, two in one night is amazing!, and a wanderer well away from its normal sand dune habitat.
Later we were able to get a trip out a little further afield and headed to the Southside on the hunt for some specialties. We didn't find the Yellow Wagtails where we saw them last year but as time was short we probably didn't give it long enough.We then went onto the big wetland reserve where we hoped the recently reported Wood Sandpipers were still around, they weren't they'd shipped out buzzed off by the ever so aggressive local Avocets the day before. Nor did we find the Little Ringed Plovers there. That's not to say it wasn't a very enjoyable hour, there was loads to see, best of all was the peace, it was noisy but all the noise was natural sounds we heard virtually no intrusive human noise pollution at all - brilliant.
Black Headed Gull picking up hatching midges
They're BIG!
Little Grebe
Next stop was a short drive up the road to the coastal marshes. Here it was great to see cattle acting as wild cattle being graze extensively and allowed to roam the whole marsh
The one at the front took a dislike to a Tufted Duck and did a full blown charge at it - comical and very splashy
There were plenty of other ducks around too, a few Teal, lots of Shelducks, several Mallards, a lone Wigeon and this Shoveler which had just been charged by one of those super-aggressive Avocets.
Although the Avocets are a very welcome addition to the local avifauna it wasn't those we'd come to see, nor the Little Egrets, it was a Glossy Ibis (165) - it's getting more like the Mediterranean of old round here every passing year, how long before Cattle Egrets along with Purple and Squacco Herons are breeding in Safari-land?
Take yer arm off as soon as look at yer they would!
Doesn't look vicious does it - - - - yet!
A thin patch of reeds close to the hide was were the interest was focused. A couple of nice breeding plumaged Black Tailed Godwits stood nicely in view...
...however the Glossy Ibis  resolutely refused to show itself well prefering to stay feeding at a huge rate of knots in the densest of the not so dense vegetation...and it was on the 'wrong' side of the light to show its super-Starling-like colours to best advantage.
We've only seen Glossy Ibis once since 2010, in 2014, and it brought our Year List to 165 so we're still well behind Monika in this year's challenge. Not only that we're well behind our tally for last year when we reached 165 about a month earlier, on 26th May.
Missing this off the list so far this year are some whoppers; Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Glaucous Gull, Bewick's Swan, Garganey, Great Northern Diver, Bar Tailed Godwit, Razorbill, Little Owl, Twite and Black Redstart could all be reasonably be expected to have made it into the notebook by now.
But you see what you see when you see it and if you don't get out you won't see nowt!
Our trip to the Southside also took us to one of our favourite teenage wildlife haunts. We've hardly been there much in the last 40 years and we only had about half an hour to explore. It was a lot lot wilder back then and certainly no dodging cyclists was necessary the only bile was ours and that was usually propped upon a lump of long gone old rubble - the ground was too rough and full of potential punctures to ride a bike over.
Still busy as it was we had a look and meandering on the off piste 'dog-walking' paths - why can they never stay ON the paths? - we came across some cracking wildlife.
Perennial Sweet Pea
Small Heath butterfly a species we don't see very often now
Common Broomrape a parasitic plant with no chlorophyll
Linnet - good to see lots of these still flying around here
We had hoped to see some Bar Tailed Godwits on the beach, it used to be a good site for them and probably still is but they were always much more of a winter bird than mid-summer although there was always the possibility of a straggler that hadn't migrated. Again it was peaceful here with the only human noises the swish of passing cyclists and the quiet hum of heavy diesel engines in the ships  navigating the outer reaches of the river, other than those it was just gently lapping waves, the light wind rustling the grasses and the songs and calls of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and of course the Linnets. One species we saw that we wouldn't even have dreamed of in the mid 70s was a Sparrowhawk, at that time any that had survived the depredations of DDT were 'removed' on sight by the local gamekeepers.
We couldn't go far as we had to pick up Pops from the dentist so turned back to 'enjoy' a much more urban view but again following a 'dog-walkers' track to spot the best wildlife, there were loads of freshly hatched Six-spot Burnet moths mostly in flight wit hone thing one their mind to our left and we were unable to get a pic - they looked positively resplendent in the bright sunshine.
Family duties done it was the long haul back to the northside and Base Camp. We had just enough time to strike out to the Prom for a quick look for the Bottlenose Dolphins on the dropping tide. No luck but we did managed a pic of a Starling today. A juvenile but you can see the white arrows heads of its adult winter plumage just beginning to poke through.

Where to next? We're back at work now so Patch 2 comes into play again.
In the meantime let us what who's poking around for memories in your childhood outback.

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