Sunday, 9 July 2017

Missed the biggie of the year - no, not the Amur Falcon

The Safari was later in to work than normal due to the enforced office move even though we were working at our 'normal' place. That had a bit of a bad knock on effect. Back at Base Camp we missed a call telling us there were half a dozen Bottlenose Dolphins close inshore and by the time we'd got the message it was well after our usual leaving time so we got frustratingly stuck in the morning commuter run that previously we've avoided. We went straight to the watchpoint to meet LB and FB who put us on to the Bottlenose Dolphins right away letting us use their scopes as we'd brought no optics with us. Unfortunately they were now well to the south and a long way off. Then LB showed us a sketch he'd just made in his notebook - a Risso's Dolphin. Had we been on our normal routine we might just have caught it! We're not totally sure but it could well be the first of its species viewed from our promenade for about 20  or more years! Now our mind started racing - what was it doing there so close inshore? just hooked up with the local(?) Bottlenose Dolphins that seem to circle the wider bay chasing what exactly? Are they looking for Salmon approaching the rivers? If a Risso's Dolphin is with them have they been after Squid? Are there any Squid egg masses on the beach to support that hypothesis? That's the wonder of wildlife always far more questions to tax the brain than answers.
The following day we did have optics with us but the wind had picked up and the sea was choppy making viewing cetaceans difficult although we did have a Grey Seal close to the wall. Here's a bizarre animal fact we didn't know - Atlantic Grey Seals are rarer than African Elephants! and salmon farms are still allowed to shoot them! 
The sun came out at lunchtime and it was quite warm so we had a mooch with the camera for ten minutes or so. A few Black Headed Gulls have began arriving back on th beach after their breeding season. Just adults so far.
As always there's a few Herring Gulls cruising about looking at what the dropping tide might provide.
This one found a Weaver Fish which have a painful toxic spine on their dorsal fin which the gull had to wrangle out, which took a few minutes, before it could be safely swallowed. 
Thankfully none of our children's groups have ever caught a Weaver Fish (touch wood) but they are quite numerous, the anglers often catch them, and this one was only a few yards from the sea wall. As a regular beach-goer we always recommend folk wear suitable footwear and not go barefoot on the sands. 
Ohh nice - just had to break off writing this rubbish cos we saw Swifts passing the window. There's four of them whizzing really low through and over the garden. Brilliant things - we've got the phone playing their screaming so they might notice our Swift nestbox. Only a couple of photo opportunities, they're to quick for our limited viewing space.
It's been pretty lively around the garden at Base Camp today with plenty of comings and goings of juvenile Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blue and Great Tits and their parents as well as a Robin and a passing Swallow or two. OK so after that little interlude it's back to the tales of safari's.
Last week we went to the zoo to see the rare orchid that had been found there. This week we returned to see if it was in flower yet. It wasn't for the simple reason that had we looked at it properly with our specs on last time we'd have seen that what we thought was a furled flower spike was in fact the remains of a well nibbled midrib...dohhhh. The main stem has been broken off so it's not going to flower this year. It has hardly changed during the week.
Yesterday we had an early start at the nature reserve and enjoyed the peace of early morning with two reeling Grasshopper Warblers, numerous Sedge and Reed Warblers and a bucketful of Reed Buntings. No sign of the Bittern but we did hear a couple of Curlews (MMLNR #77) and watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker (MMLNR #78 - surely we've seen one here before this and neglected to put on our spreadsheet?) fly almost the length of the reserve. Our two target species for our Year Bird Challenge failed to put in an appearance although we did hear several Blackcaps - we'll have to wait a few weeks until they're more out in the open eating berries, same with the no-show and silent Lesser Whitethroats.
In the afternoon we headed out east to the picturesque river valley for a walk with Wifey and Monty. It was busy so the chance of adding a Dipper to our Year Bird Challenge was slim to remote, we'll have to wait for a quiet mid-week opportunity to get out that way for those. There were the shrill calls of young birds in the canopy but far too many dogs in the river for even the Grey Wagtails to show up more than once. The shallow pools are just too inviting for mutts on a warm day, 
and those flippin owners do nothing to discourage their charges from running down the banks and into the water - most actively encourage them after all the countryside is only a place to kill things or let your dogs disturb everything.
Note the slugs and snails on the rock, the water level has risen recently, last time we were here we were able to sit on this rock, getting to it without gettin g our feet wet - bit like the molluscs but they could be stranded out there now - will have to check next time we go.
This morning a jaunt around Patch 1 was a little late as we missed the early morning sunshine and were back in the ISO Stupid gloom - the default for Lancashire according to ex-pat Lancastrian SP - he's not wrong!
We wanted butterflies - we got a (singular) butterfly, a male Meadow Brown.
and a rather dapper bee mimicing hoverfly Volucella pellucens.
Too gloomy to wait for long for nothing to happen at the White Letter Hairstreak tree but we did find our first ripening Blackberry of the year there. That could be a problem the White Letter Hairstreaks are only just emerging and almost all the Bramble flowers have gone over and there's no Creeping Thistle this year, the Bramble thicket having smothered them out. The butterflies will have to make do with honeydew up in the canopy where they are harder to spot.
Later in the afternoon the sun came out and we were able to shoot back out for half an hour for another look. On the way we met good friend PL on his way out of the butterfly zone looking a bit dejected. We had a good chat about all things local nature and eventually he decided to come with us back into the breach. It was a good job he did as he'd have been a bit miffed if we'd have found one minutes after he'd left. And that's what happened within a few minutes of seeing a couple of battling skippers a smaller duller butterfly caught our eye landing on or near a Bramble flower. joy of joys it was what we thought it was going to be. Two cameras rattled away but even through the bins we couldn't see the white 'W', good job those megapixels were able to pick it out.
A bit of a relief to find them on Patch 1 again, it's always a bit twitchy seeing the Elms fading away and hoping that that's not the tree they are dependent on. But then the dead Elms of last year start sprouting again and hopefully the new shoots will last long enough to be come available for egg laying in the future.
The afternoon was topped off by a Comma that landed almost too close to get a pic.
What a great way to end the weekend!
Where to next? In to the lion's den that is the town centre offices tomorrow, wonder if we'll see any wildlife around there.
In the meantime let us know who's

No comments: