The Safari has been diligently counting the birds in the park on Patch 1 most mornings much to Monty's annoyance as he would prefer to join his mates on the now very soggy field for a run around and rough n tumble before breakfast. So far we have had little migrant joy with mostly similar numbers of Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and Goldcrests recorded each morning, although the first Song Thrush since they went quiet at the end of the breeding season could have been from elsewhere rather than a local bird.
A morning visit to the nature reserve was a quiet affair, nice to hear several Skylarks, including a flock of 11, and Meadow Pipits going over though but not a lot else obviously moving - we still haven't had that 'big day' of visible migration.
A quick peek under the refugium gave us another juvenile Great Crested Newt, maybe we should have taken pics of their undersides so we would know if there have been three, four or five this week. A tiny Froglet was under there too.
From the Viewing Platform the light looking across the mere was simple dreadful so we didn't linger long, long enough to see there were no Otters and the Heron in flight over the reeds was 'just' a Heron and not a Bittern - AGAIN!!! The Willow tree next to us held a very camera shy couple of Long Tailed Tits.
Along the track there was little to trouble the notebook and the wader LR had told us about in the scrape not long after first light was long gone. So to was any hint of the Kingfisher down at the spillway, even the flooded corner of the farmer's field was devoid of life - there's always at least one Pied Wagtail on there.
It was so quiet bird-wise we took to getting pics of ageing farm equipment that was in the field. We're not toally sure but it looks like this old combine has got stuck in a wet patch
Walking back the way we came the scrub opposite the scrape was now alive with a flock of tits and other birds. We watched waiting for another chance of a Long Tailed Tit pic as a Chiffchaff sang from further back then it or another one began to give a Great Tit, twice its size and not normally to be messed with by lesser fry, a right royal chasing around the bushes for a good couple of minutes or more - we don't know what the Great Tit had done to deserve this but that Chiffchaff had attitude and wouldn't let it lie! We eventually were able to fire off a couple of shots at a Long Tailed Tit but they didn't amount to much.
The rest of the walk back was as quite as the walk down with only a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the distance and, following on from Patch 1, another Song Thrush breaking the monotony; that is apart from the numerous Migrant Hawker, a couple of Common Darters and a Brown Hawker dragonflies. There were also a couple of migrating Red Admirals flying doggedly south in the stiff southerly breeze and a single Small Tortoiseshell brightening up proceedings too.
Family duties on the Southside enabled a quick visit to Lunt Meadows reserve. The drive down was a traffic nightmare but we did see at least four Jays, all carrying Acorns, flying over the congested motorway. Arriving at the reserve the first thing we saw as we drew to a halt in the car park was another Jay carrying its Acorn.
The sun was out and we were looking forward to brief but quality visit. Then the sun went in before we'd even reached the first screen. Looking across the pool there wasn't a lot to be seen, a Heron and a few Mallards and then the heads of some Snipe poking up from the far side of a low muddy bank.
A movement in the grass to the left of the water had us counting a family party of seven Moorhens and then another movement further left still had us suspecting more Moorhens but in fact it was three Grey Partridges, very nice to see again so soon after our last sighting not far from here recently we've been down to just one or two sightings a year of these once very common birds. One of them even stood up taller than the surrounding vegetation rather than hiding behind the only stalk like last time!
Moving round to the next screen overlooking the pool the light was against us but we could now see that the Snipes 'heads' were in fact about a dozen birds.
There were even more Snipe at the next pool which is where most of the other birds were too. Including three Ruff way over on the furthest mud.
Then we noticed some spitting raindrops making ripples on the water. It wasn't long before the spitting became a downpour and as we huddled the camera under our jacket tight to the screen the rain drove against our back ran down our jacket and legs and in a cold trickle in to our wellies - not a pleasant feeling!
Thankfully the rain didn't last long and the sun came out. As far as we could tell nothing new had dropped in. The Snipe were looking good in the bright sunshine and the Ruff had a little fly round with the Lapwings landing a bit closer when something unseen spooked them briefly.
|Looks like it's drop-kicking a Lapwing|
An we just had to take a few snaps of an incoming flock of Canada Geese.
From the next screen we didn't see much but did notice a Kestrel hunting a little further along the track so of we went. And glad we did as this is easily our best Kestrel pic ever.
Good as it it we do hope to better it one day though.
The time had now come for us to get on with our family stuff so we had leave but we did call in at the first screen again to check on the Grey Partridges. They weren't there but there was an enormous flock of several thousand Pink Footed Geese in the distance probably over the Formby mosses, it was gazing at these we noticed the Lapwings were up over the other pool. But what was that white thing with them getting grief from a Lapwing? At first glance it looked like one of those white Feral Pigeons rather than a gull but closer inspection revealed it to be a leucistic Lapwing and what a beauty it was too with it's black wingtips - wish we'd noticed it on the deck with all the other Lapwings - what a cracking looking bird! Apparently there is another less striking leucistic Lapwing too.
This morning we were back on Patch 1 doing our count and hoping for for something green with wing-bars and an eyebrow. our luck could have been in, there were a lot of Goldcrests today, at least nine and a flock of Long Tailed Tits, just the sort of activity that a lonely Yellow Browed Warbler could join in with but sadly it wasn't to be.
Back at Base camp a surprise awaited us. While making a cuppa we saw something on the feeder that didn't look like a Greenfinch or Goldfinch, indeed opening the blinds a little wider it didn't look like a bird at at all! Our first Long Tailed Field Mouse we've seen in the garden since last winter and the first we've ever seen clinging to the feeder. Nice one!
Where to next? A friend told us during the week that time in field equals birds so we'll be out somewhere on safari tomorrow looking for that elusive Siberian sprite - or something else equally exciting...or elusive.
In the meantime let us know who's eluding who in your outback.