The Safari had an impromptu day off today to get some head-space and a bit of chilling time. We left for the nature reserve just after the early morning rush. Almost as soon as we got out of the car we noticed there were a lot of Blackbirds around and it didn't take long to find a Song Thrush. A Goldcrest called from the hedgerow too.
Our first stop was the viewing platform from where we saw there were a lot of Coots and other waterfowl. The light was dreadful so we didn't stop long moving on to see if wee could see our day's 'official quarry' which was lurking in the scrub somewhere. On the walk down we heard multiple gunshots from not very far away and immediately the sky was full of panicking wildfowl. The shooting was coming from an area where it's allowed but really there needs to be a buffer zone of at least a mile from wetland nature reserves/SSSIs where there should no shooting what-so-ever - what's the point of a sanctuary if the wildlife doesn't feel safe there?
|A few of the Teal|
|A few of the Wigeon|
We looked and looked and looked but couldn't see what we wanted to in the scrub but there were lots more Blackbirds and a couple more Song Thrushes. We gave up and moved on to the embankment where we got stupendous views of a Cetti's Warbler out in the open while another sang behind it. Above it was yet another Song Thrush, given a bit of moving around and the risk of double counting we guesstimate we'd seen at least eight by now.
Continuing towards the bridge we heard another Cetti's Warbler but couldn't find the Stonechats. While we were looking for them we got a call from LR who was on his way, which was good as it was he who found our hidden quarry earlier in the week so we wandered back to wait for him. The scrub now held some Fieldfares, a flock of 13 Redwings flew over and the second Goldcrest of the morning was with a small party of foraging tits.
LR arrived and told us we were looking in the wrong place by a few yards and three or four trees. There was one of the two Long Eared Owls he'd seen earlier in the week well hidden deep in the bottom of a gnarly old Hawthorn. We never did find the second.
Time as ever was running short so we went round to the far side to have a look at the waterfowl from the hide affectionately known as Ice Station Zebra. There's been some management work done on the reeds but not quiet enough to fully open up the view. We saw lots of Coots, still in dreadful light, and not a lot else close by.
Still no sign of the 'Posh' Gull in town yet, if it's going to return for another winter it shouldn't be far away now.
With time pressing even harder now we bumped into MMcG armed with a new and hopefully Grey Squirrel-proof feeder for the feeding station. He spotted a sizeable flock of 15 Long Tailed Tits and that was the end of our time allowed. Back to the car with some haste it was to go and do some jobs.
Where to next? Family visiting again tomorrow but Wifey has come up with a cunning plan for the first part of the journey - Monty might like it too.
In the meantime let us know who's keeping well hidden in your outback.