The Safari has been out n about recently. We've caught up with a most of the early migrant birds including a surprise, been herpetoligically challenged for a while and seen some quality solitary bees in new places.
On Friday we spotted a Tawny Mining Bee in the street at Base Camp, a first here. CR has loads in his garden only 400 yards away and offered the opportunity to come over and take some pics on Saturday but we had family duties so couldn't take him up on his kind offer.
Sunday saw us out early picking up BD on the way to the dunes. We parked up at our favoured spot and started to cautiously inspect every square inch of the dune along the track. We soon found our first 7-Spot Ladybird of the year, but that wasn't what we were after.
Monty's keen nose sniffed at something on the road just in front of the car, we pulled him away as he's a begger for trying to eat anything and everything off the pavement but as we looked to see what it was shock and sadness overcame us - it was a freshly killed large specimen of what we'd come to look for. A Common Lizard.
How unlucky, what was it doing in the road in the shade? And a blow to the small and isolated population of them here. It may well have been killed by the car parked a little way in front of ours.
It took a good half hour or more of intense scrutiny of the dune face to find our first live one tucked away in a small patch of dappled sunshine.
Monty started getting disruptive as other dogs began to pass by on their morning walk to the beach an while we were gtetting to grips with him yet again BD shouted out he'd found a third, another tiny yearling well away from the first two. We bundled Monty into the car and went to have a look.
So three found and the dead one wasn't a bad haul if a little sad. on the way back to Base Camp we passed herpetologist supreme RL's truck parked at the roadside. A later email revealed he'd found about a dozen by 10.30 by which time he told us it had got too hot; we'd left to get back to Base Camp before our 10 am curfew.
At Base Camp we took Monty for a quick stretch before making Wifey her breakfast. It was on his little walk we spotted some solitary bees on the dry stone revetment of our neighbour's garden. You guessed it we had to go and get the camera!
They're too small for Tawny Mining Bees, the males of which have white 'moustaches' which these don't. They are a species of Andrena but which one???
After breakfast we were able ot get out again and this time went to the nature reserve where we met up with BD again. At the viewing platform we heard Willow Warbler (124, MMLNR #55) and Blackcap (125, MMLNR #56). B saw but couldn't get a pic of the very loud Cetti's Warbler singing in the reeds across the little pool. A Little Grebe whinneyed away in front of us too.
Moving down the main drag we had a look for the Bee Orchids but couldn't find any rosettes this time. All around us Chiffchaffs chiff-chaffed and we heard another Blackcap. Passing the scrape we stopped to look to see if any of the Teal were Garganeys, they weren't but we did hear a Reed Warbler (126, MMLNR #57) strike up its rhythmical almost mechanical song, it transpired that this was the earliest Lancashire record by a day. How long before a totally unprecedented March arrival???
A Buzzard (MMLNR #58) was temptingly in range of the lens over the embankment but by the time we'd got round there it had disappeared.
At the hide we grilled the gulls in the hope of the Iceland Gull - or better - but there were only Herring and Lesser Black Backs coming in to bathe save for a single 2nd winter Great Black Back and a lone Black Headed Gull. Again the very loud Cetti's Warbler refused to show and none of the Teal or Shovelers could be 'strung' into anything more exciting. Two Oystercatchers (MMLNR #59) and a Lapwing (MMLNR #60) were with the waterfowl on the scrape. A Heron flew in and gave great views, not wanting to sound ungrateful but we'd have rather it had have been the Bittern.
Excitement did come a little further on when B spotted several Tawny Mining Bees in the grass. We'd have though it was a bit long for them but there they were in all they brilliant red glory.
|Looks to be holding something in its jaws|
Moving on to the Feeding Station we had a pleasant surprise, the Brambling (MMLNR #61) reported the previous day was still there.
The light was pretty good and the feeding station was fairly busy so we stayed a good while snapping away ad infinitum.
The Magpies were a little infuriating as they simply refused to turn so as the sun caught their iridescent plumage. It took a lot of shots to get this one...only to then see the bird has an elongated lower mandible.
Action shots always prove tricky but when they're right they're pretty impressive.
Always on the margins of the activity this Robin kept returning to a favoured perch but never stayed more than a few seconds. In the middle of winter they are far less shy getting right in the thick ofg the action on the feeders and arguing with all-comers.
There's always a Pheasant or two hoovering up spillage.
The male looked most splendid in the bright sunshine but only did his sing-whirring display under the cover of the trees, most annoying. The only time he did it in the open we missed it but he was obscured behind one the feeding table posts anyway.
Not a bad afternoon out despite the hordes of unleashed uncontrolled dogs, the idiots on the roof of the hide and the scrotes on the mini-moto bike. Must go mid-week after the holiday for a bit more peace and quiet next time!
Back on Patch 2 yesterday we our first Sandwich Terns (127, P2 #38) of the year when we saw half a dozen successfully catching small fish just behind the surf. 11 Whooper Swans (P2 #39) leaving the marshes of the estuary and pitching down on the sea about a mile out was good too. That evening we took Monty to a drier site than the mud-wallow of the park that is Patch 1 and saw our first Swallow (128) of the year tazz seaward.
Despite all this excitement we've only added one species to our Photo Challenge list, a very poorly phone-picd Jay (YBC #106) in our parent's garden, the only one we've seen there since the early 70s and the house is imminently to be sold!
All busy busy springy stuff with more to come in the next few days.
Where to next? Lots of desk driving at work is curtailing wildlifing opportunities to just a few minutes a day for the foreseeable but you never know!
In the meantime let us know who's trying to get in the record books in your outback.