The Safari has been on a trip up north with our birding chums from the South-side. We'd agreed to meet in the reserve car-park but only minor traffic on a Sunday morning had us due to arrive a few minutes early so we bunked into the old quarry for a quick look.
It didn't take long to find one of the resident Ravens (134, YBC #113) sat in a tree-top.
The female came in to give the nippers a feed, the nest site was high up at the far end of the quarry but even at that range we could see the red gape of the youngsters with our bins. but we missed the family moment with the camera only catching the female as she left.
There was a Peregrine on a ledge too but other than that just the multitude of raucous Jackdaws. We thought we heard a Little Owl call but a chat to a regular visitor told us there hadn't been any there for a number of years.
Joining up with the gang off we went into the reserve where almost immediately a Buzzard soared low overhead being mobbed by a Carrion Crow. Wee could see it had something dangling from its beak which turned out to be a mouse rather than a worm.
Down at the first hide the light was awful with horrendous glare coming off the water and wet mud making viewing and getting pics hard work, as you can tell from this dreadful Moorhen pic.
There were hundreds of Black Tailed Godwits many showing their glorious brick red summer plumage, and several Redshanks.
Try as we might we couldn't find the two drake Garganeys that had been present in recent days but IH spotted a small wader drop in beyond the snoozing Redshanks. It turned out to be a Green Sandpiper (135, YBC #114). This was the best we could get at the range through the tops of a clump of reeds.
A womble down to the westernmost hides didn't give us much but we did hear a Green Woodpecker on the way, appropriately enough just beyond 'Green Woodpecker field' so called as we saw one there once in about 1981 and never since but we live in hope! A Bank Vole popped out from under a fallen tree trunk where people leave food for the birds for photo opportunities, we waited a few minutes with the camera aimed at the spot but it didn't reappear. Both the hides were very quite with no sign of either the Garganeys nor any Great White Egrets which we could have done with a pic of for our Year Bird Challenge - where were they, there's always a couple or three on the reserve these days?
Retracing our steps back to the the causeway hide we had distant views of a male Marsh Harrier (135) and were constantly serenaded by Willow Warblers, Reed Warblers and a couple of Cetti's Warblers.
From the hide the water was pretty quiet but it was good to see a couple of Pochards out there, these seem to have been very scarce locally this winter. A Cormorant flew in to sit on 'Great Black Back Gull island' (not a lot dares venture on to there)Great Crested Grebe cruised round the back
The male Marsh Harrier (YBC #115) did several distant rounds over the extensive reedbed before landing in a dead tree to our left. It sat there for several minutes before lifting off and drifting over the mere in front of us.
Continuing onward towards the next hide as we passed through the wooded area a Marsh Tit (136, YBC #116) popped up on to a pile of cut logs where a handful of mealworms had been left.
Not far away one of the many serenading Willow Warblers (YBC #117) was in song and visible too as it worked its way through the opening foliage
We passed a few Pheasants on the way, both males and females and they all looked splendiferous in the sunshine, what amazing patterns and colours they have, even the females, when you get such close views. Other folks were practically hand feeding them they are that used to people down this trail.
At the hide we were treated to exceptional views of two Otters playing, or at least they seemed to be we didn't see them eating anything. The show went on for about 10 minutes and throughly enjoyed by everyone in the hide despite the freezing Arctic wind that was blasting through the open windows. It was lovely being out in the sunshine...but in the wind - by eck was it cold!!!
What a show but tricky to get pics of as it was hard to second guess where they would pop up next. The Heron just outside the window was a far better subject, big, close and immobile! Just how we like our wildlife to be!
Where to next? Back to a very windy and chilly Patch 2 no doubt
In the meantime let us know who's popping up here there and everywhere in your outback.