Monday, 17 April 2017

Spring continues to drag its heels

The Safari had family duties on Saturday and ended up on the South-side at a beach we used to frequent as a nipper but one we've not visited for many many years. We parked up in the against the developing dune at the side of the car park and with Wifey watched the Starlings and House Sparrows rummaging around in the vegetation for invertebrates and scraps. Behind us we heard some Linnets and above us Skylarks sang. As we waited for the rest of our party to arrive Wifey wondered why Monty's coat couldn't be iridescent like the Starlings' that would be something - an iridescent dog!
Once the others had arrived we set off on a dog walk along the back of the dunes seeing a Skylark sitting on the grass not 20 yards away and totally oblivious to the gang of lads knocking a football guessed it - no long-lensed camera today. 
At the furthest point we crossed the dunes and dropped down on to the beach where the tide was rising and had covered most of the 'Another Place' statues. There was time for a few quick phone pics though.
Which of the three is you favourite?
 Of course at the same time as throwing the ball for our brother's dog
A right little rapscallion - always full of beans!
We kept an eye out for anything that might be of interest on the strandline. It's always good to find a Mermaid' Purse, this one is from a Lesser Spotted Catshark; what's not so good is to see the balloon ribbons tangled up with the seaweed.
Further on we came across the remains of a long dead Great Black Backed Gull and then this much fresher Kittiwake
We don't think we can count dead things on our Year Bird Challenge, which is a pity because getting a pic of a live Kittiwake could prove tricky as we doubt we'll be visiting any of their nesting cliffs this season. Very occasionally they come close to shore along Patch 2 but it's far from guaranteed.
Back on the dunes we had another, even closer, encounter with a Skylark and then saw where the Linnets were hanging out, an easy full frame shot from the car in the right car parking space - no camera - dohhhhh!!!
Yesterday the rain came down for hours and once it had stopped off we went to the nature reserve once again full of hope something less ordinary would have been dropped by the rain. 
Once again trying to get pics of common birds such as the Blackcap at the Wetland and the Willow Warbler at the Viewing Platform proved impossible, both were too flitty and there are now just too many leaves leave a photographer frustrated...we're not the only either, it seems Monika is having the same problems on the west coast of America.
We both have the same target of 200 species recorded for the year and she was hoping to photograph 150 of them at a strike rate of 75%, so far she's almost reached her target of 150 species photographed and has an excellent strike rate of over 90% We might just get past 150 species photographed and probably won't  get to 200 species recorded. Currently our 111 out of 132 is a strike rate of 84%.
The scrub within the nature reserve was very quiet, where are the Whitethroats, Leser Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and the rest of the Willow Warblers and Blackcaps? It wasn't until we got to the scrape there was any excitement at all. One of the two recent Black Tailed Godwits (MMLNR #63) was there. The new scrape doing its thing attracting down waders to feed and rest that would previously just flown round had a quick look and moved on in a few minutes.
Continuing our walk we dropped in to the hide where MJ was already ensconced but hadn't seen a great deal. A few Sand Martins came by fairly close but we failed to get a shot off. In the distance a Kestrel hovered. One thing we did notice was individual male Reed Buntings flying in to the reeds coming in from the east and then working their way westwards through the tops of the reeds. We noted six but then recalled we'd seen at least a  couple others doing similar earlier in our walk but not thought anything of it - was it a bit of passage after the rain? 
A Rabbit came out to graze in front of the hide. If you 'click the pic' and look closely above its ears you'll see a few of gazillions of  tiny midges that are attracting the Sand Martins to the site.
Another flurry of Sand Martins held a few Swallows and then MJ picked out a House Martin (132, MMLNR #64) which swooped, dived, stalled and towered way away across the far side so no chance of an early pic of this species.
Then MJ's pager went off informing us of 10 Cattle Egrets, in a field of cows, not many miles away. Off he went but we couldn't follow as we had to help Wifey prepare for visitors later in the evening so off we went back towards the car. Best of the rest was a good view of a Chiffchaff while we had a brief chat with TS.
Where to next? Last day of the holiday so we'll be out somewhere on safari.
In the meantime let us know who's visiting more regularly in your outback.

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