Monday, 10 October 2016

Super silver sea

The Safari has continued to be busy with important family stuff and work but we have been able to get out to see what's about a couple of times this last week.
We've spotted the Peregrine on the water tower a couple of times but it hasn't been showing at any time when we would have been able to put the scope on it to show young neighbour OC - we told him about it being the fastest animal on the planet and he could see it from his house - his reaction - - COOOOOLLLLLLL. So the pressure is on for us to help him to for him to get a good look at it. We wouldn't mind a pic of it with the new 600mm lens either.
Last Friday we had a short and very productive look at Patch 2 at lunchtime on the rising tide. A Guillemot (P2 #75) was soon found fairly close in, then while watching a Red Throated Diver fly past in the near to middle distance it passed over a surfacing Harbour Porpoise. Instantly ignoring the diver we focused on the porpoise and before too long saw three surface together. All adults. They surfaced frequently for the next ten minutes or so until one made easily the biggest breach we've ever seen a porpoise do leaping clean out of the water at least it's own body length high...and with that demonstration of gymnastics they were gone not to be seen again. 
A good record of 12 Teal flew south, six Gannets were milling around and close inshore an immature Great Crested Grebe was fishing too. Not a bad half hour out.
First light on Saturday morning had us on Patch 1 searching for a self-found Yellow Browed Warbler.
It wasn't to be as we could only find at least three Goldcrests (could have perhaps been double that they were very active), a Coal Tit, about a dozen Blackbirds and two dozen Redwings along with a Heron in a tree (no it wasn't a Pear tree) and two Moorhens skulking very furtively round the 'top' pond.
A couple of Wrens kept us amused for a few minutes too.
A very grainy Wren
As we were leaving an old Elm stump with a blog of Cramp Balls Fungus caught our eye.
It was good to see quite a number of the felled Elms shooting from the root too, good news for the White Letter Hairstreaks.
Sunday morning saw us leaving our childhood home early to visit the new reserve a mile or so away. Sunrise was a colourful affair but we probably should have used our phonecam rather than the big lens to capture it in all its glory.
As we drove through the gate a Kestrel got up off the track and flew in front of us in the light from the car's headlamps for a good distance and as we pulled into the car park a Jay flew over us, they used to be really really scarce around these parts although we're not sure of their current status with lots of woodland having been planted and maturing over the last forty years and (hopefully) more enlightened gamekeepers on the adjacent Pheasant and Partridge shoots.
The reserve was a little quieter than we'd hoped/expected after the run of easterly winds. There were a good number of Lapwings but not so many ducks, mainly Teal and Mallard with a lot of Canada Geese, which soon took to the air and left, on the first pool as the first Pink Footed Geese came over from the little estuary we were at last weekend heading towards their agricultural feeding grounds. 
The walk to the second pool gave us a few passing Skylarks and Meadow Pipits with Reed Buntings along the ditch. The rising sun nicely illuminated a Heron stalking at the edge of the reeds.
At the viewing screen we saw a Cetti's Warbler fly low in front of us and enjoyed the sights and sounds of more Lapwings. (Late edit - just be told by the team at Lunt Meadows that that's the first record of Cetti's Warbler since March!)
Five Pintail and a lot of Snipe were pick of the rest.
Shame the water weed spoils the Snipe's reflection
Walking along the river bank the Pink Footed Geese feeding in the fields were too far away to have a proper look through as we didn't have a scope with us today, six distant Whooper Swans our first of the autumn flew over them heading further inland. At the bridge one species or other of Mustelid had very recently left its calling card on the concrete step, possibly an American Mink or a Stoat certainly not an Otter unfortunately. Passing rather than crossing the bridge we went to the next view point where there were two archaeologists uncovering the dig site of the 8000 YO Mesolithic settlement that was found there while the reserve was being excavated. We kept an eye on the fence-lines and taller prominent patches of vegetation but couldn't find any of the regular Stonechats that frequent the reserve. A last look from the first screen gave us a Chiffchaff calling from the low scrub behind us but little else.
Back at the car park we saw the Jay again, or was it a second? Good to see the car park filling up with birders' cars before 09.00 on a Sunday morning too, testament to the reserve's quality.
Later in the day back at Ma n Da's we watched open-mouthed through the sitting room window as V after V of Pink Footed Geese went over back towards the estuarine roost, there must have been several thousand of them, a very impressive sight. Never saw anything like that many over there in the mid-70s. Somethings do change for the better in the wonderful world of wildlife despite all the doom and gloom there are some bright spots to give us a bit of hope all is not quite lost yet. 
Back at work today we went out on Patch 2 on a stunning morning. Dark clouds glowered over the flat calm silver sea which was dotted with several hundred scattered black specks of Common Scoters. A bright almost complete rainbow competed the stunning scene. Nothing much else was out there in the most very excellent visibility other than the head of a bottling Grey Seal away to our right.
In the gardens no fewer than six Robins were heard ticking away in the perimeter hedge, that's got to be a record count!
Later we had a rummage round and a listen for Yellow Browed Warblers - none heard although we did hear something that could well have been but couldn't find it in the depths of the Tamarisk bushes where the sound seemed to come from to get a sighting...missed or wishful thinking??? We did find a Goldcrest and the Wren is still about so it was worth the look/listen.
Arriving back at BAse Camp as we turned in to our street we could see the Peregrine sat up on the water tower. OC wasn't home from school yet so we couldn't show it to him. We did grab the big lens and head off up the hill on foot.
We've seen it a few times up there recently so it shouldn't be too long before OC gets a good look at it.
Where to next? More intense scrutiny of the work bushes tomorrow - this run of easterly winds are very very interesting.
In the meantime let us know what the wind;s blown in in your outback.

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