The Safari started a few days off work with a dawn raid on the nature reserve. Even before 08.00 it was a warm one with the bank of high cloud drifting off east leaving blistering sunshine in an azure blue sky - the perfect start to anyone's holiday!
At first it felt like there wasn't much happening. The wetland and rough wet grassland on the walk in were birdless desert, the light scrub to our left maybe had a couple more Robins 'ticking' away than we've heard on recent visits but our overall impression was that it was quiet.
Once through the gate we were almost overcome by the quietness, where is that Redstart and/or Pied Flycatcher with our name on it hiding? The silence was broken by a Cetti's Warbler giving lip at the Viewing Platform and being immediately answered by another the other side of said platform. with the light no better than seriously iffy for viewing from the Viewing Platform we continued our walk. The Paddock and scrub were notably birdless too apart from a few Woodpigeons (Why is it Woodpigeons and not Wood Pigeons? It's not a Feralpigeon is it!). We heard a couple or more Blackcaps 'tacking' away deep in the Hawthorns which we have to say are totally bedecked with berries unlike the roadside hedgerows we passed on the way to the pub last night which have been scalped to within an inch of their lives as usual - no food or shelter for the wildlife this winter just like every other winter sadly.
As we approached the track to the panoramic hide we found our first big birdy activity, a mixed flock of tits and (mostly) 'Phyllosc' warblers. Getting to the other side of them where they were in the light gave us splendiferous views of several Blue Tits, two Great Tits, about 10 Long Tailed Tits (they wouldn't keep still), at least three Chiffchaffs and one Willow Warbler, a shy Chaffinch that we only saw once briefly (where did it go - it was in a small isolated clump of bushes!), a couple of Blackcaps and a Whitethroat. We stood and watched for a good few minutes before raising the camera.
|Long Tailed Tit with spider(?)|
We had a look from the hide but it was suffering from the aftermath of a warm weekend's anti-social behaviour so we didn't stay long. There wasn't much to see apart from a decent sized flock of Lapwings which landed in the scrape so we set off round to count them and see if we'd missed anything 'more interesting' among them. As we left the hide we heard another Cetti's Warbler fire up from the reedbed, they're becoming more vocal again now the summer is drawing to a close.
At the scrape we counted exactly 80 Lapwings and no other waders, three Teal, a Mallard and a sleepy Shoveler. There was no sign of the Garganey which had been reported again yesterday.
Just as we were moving on we heard yet our fourth Cetti's Warbler of the morning sing a brief snatch of song. We made our way along the embankment towards the bridge scanning the recently cut silage field for any Wheatears, none! Plenty of Woodpigeons and four Magpies were all we could see. But we did hear a Grey Wagtail going over and then heard sporadic calls from 'alba' Wagtails high up in the ether. Also up there at invisible altitude were our first Meadow Pipits of the autumn. Reed Buntings have been thin on the ground over the summer, we've seen odd ones here and there but today we came across five of them, our best count since the spring. one of them even sat still on the reeds as per their name, unlike the nearby Reed Warbler which was far too busy for us to connect with the lens.
She stayed still long enough for us to fire off a few shots before she launched herself skywards and continued her journey to who knows where.
Behind us, down by the new pools a flock of about 20 Linnets got up out of the cut field and landed on the Thistles at the edge of the little dyke that separates 'us' from 'them'. With nothing in the stream at the bridge and too many people beginning to stir on the caravan site we turned back hearing more passing Meadow Pipits and even seeing one - going north west!?!
A quick look from the vantage point the gives a restricted view of the part of the scrape you can't see from the 'normal' spot gave us a duck that look very suspiciously like the Garganey.
Off we went at a trot passing the tree which 999 times out of a thousand has a Woodpigeon sat in it and once again it did.
At the scrape our hunch was correct, the duck was indeed the Garganey. Again the light for pics was awful and this is horrendously processed to make it look something like a Garganey.
All in all a very pleasant morning out, we'll have to do it again sometime!
Where to next? Sometime is coming again tomorrow morning.
In the meantime let us know who's looking like a dodgy duck in your outback