Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sandwiches on the beach

The Safari was hoping that the early morning low tides would permit a roost of Sandwich Terns providing there hadn't been too much doggy or fisherman disturbance before we got out. We took the bins and big lens to work and fortunately there was a roost well down on the beach and better still it was directly in front of us and there was no sign of any forthcoming disturbance. So that was it, the wellies went on and we set off down the steps onto the beach. To make sure we didn't disturb them and get in the best position for the pretty rubbish light - we were still on ISO Stupid - we headed off to their left well in front of them with the intention of walking back towards them slowly and stopping every few yards so that they got used to our movements. If we got a hint they were getting fidgety then we could walk back up the beach a bit away from them until they settled down, thankfully we didn't need to do that. Once as close as we dared we took a few pics
and then moved in a few more yards one step at a time
The black sticky-up things in the sand are the tops of Mason Worms whose silk and shell fragment cases get washed up by the trillion after rough weather. 
The did flush in the end but thanmkfully we weren't the culprit, a young Herring Gull had decoded to join their number but they spooked, perhaps because they'd not long since been out at sea dodging the attentions of several Arctic Skuas and the gull looked similar to those persistent thieves.

We succeeded in getting just one BiF shot off.
Yesterday morning we had an early morning wander round Patch 1 finding a couple of Sparrowhawks with perhaps more in the trees as there was a good bit of flying around going on and a lot of squawking to be heard. Also around the rough field's hedgerows were a Willow Warbler and a nearby Lesser Whitethroat while in the park proper there was a calling Goldcrest and a singing Coal Tit along with several 'tic'ing Robins, sounding very autumnal.
This morning we took Monty to the nature reserve with the hope of some pics for our Year Bird Challenge. At last we had a decent morning with good sunshine and for once this summer no wind!
Straight out of the car and through the gate we got a glimpse of the Blackcap that has been infuriatingly noisy but invisible all summer. Eventually it stopped out in the open long enough to fire of a few pics and once downloaded back at Base Camp a couple of them were even in focus. At long last after walking past this particular bird since early April we've finally got Blackcap (YBC #143) on our tally.
The rest of our walk was fairly quiet apart from an unseen Redshank (MMLNR #74) circling round before sounding like it headed off to the coast south west-wards until we got to the Elderberry bushes by the cabins where there was some activity around the not so many ripe berries. Mostly Blackbirds and Whitethroats but there were a couple of Song Thrushes too. A family of Magpies stopped briefly in the Rowan tree next door to pluck a few berries but maybe there weren't many ripe ones although they all looked the same to us as the soon moved on cackling away as they do.
More Whitethroats were seen on the way to the first hide. probably the most numerous bird of the day. A late Swift flew over with a few Swallows following in its wake a minute or so later. We kept an eye on the reedbed in case the Bittern should decide to take a flight but no such luck. Sneaking up to the viewing screen next to the hide we peered cautiously through the slats hoping the Bittern might be in the reeds fringing the pool - needless to say it wasn't but there was a Reed Warbler that deigned to show itself properly.
By now it was late enough for the charge of the dog brigade to be in full flow and it just became so frustrating as we'd see something in the scrub only for either it or us to be disturbed by a dog wandering unleashed off piste. Monty still wants to meet and greet as he's still only a pup (one year old next weekend) so trying to get him to keep still so we can focus either bins or camera on a no empty bush is hard with the constant passage of other mutts. It's a nightmare and ruins the experience of being at one with nature on a reserve. We saw a snippet of Lesser Whitethroat but were dogged off before we could raise the camera. Luckily there was another back at the Elderberry bush by the cabins - it just wouldn't show its face but another 'at laster', Lesser Whitethroat (TBC #144).
Back at Base Camp after lunch the warm sun brought out a Mint Moth, a species we've not seen here for a couple of years.
Phone pic
Monty's evening walk back to Patch 1 had us hearing the Sparrowhawks squawking again but little else until we spotted a couple of fungi on a long felled tree. No idea what they are but they're nice all the same.
All good stuff on a wildlife filled weekend and we got lots of family duties in too.
Where to next? Pond dipping and bug hunting with family centre group at work tomorrow but will we be too excited and busy to take any pics of their most interesting finds?
In the meantime let us know who's eventually given themselves up in your outback.

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