Friday, 20 October 2017

The final installment from the Solway Firth

The Safari enjoyed a calm moonlight night over the sea listening to the calls of Oystercatchers and Curlews out on the mudflats.
The following morning out with Monty we saw a few Octopus Jellyfish washed up on the sands.
A Merlin was twisting and diving chasing a Meadow Pipit right above our head, the pipit escaped by the skin of its beak. Moments later a Peregrine was cruising low over the rocks causing mayhem among the gulls and waders, it eventually landed on one of the outer rocks the master of all it surveyed.
We got a final visit to RSPB Mersehead in too. There we found a pair of Stonechats working their way a;long a fence-line. Behind them the Roe Deer were out in the paddock again looking splendid with the sun behind them.
We also saw one of the leucistic Barnacle Geese
They were a flighty bunch and although they were well back in the middle of the field they weren't happy with us walking down the track and before long one had spooked and they all took to the air. Our leucistic bird still had its lunch dangling from its bill.

They may have been a bit worried by the digger clearing the ditch between two of the fields they often frequent.
Out on the wetland a couple of Whooper Swans had arrived.
The wind in the trees behind the hide was blowing many leaves off the swaying branches which fluttered down softly landing on the water like dying butterflies.
Not very many leaves had fallen and some were still quite green. The Sycamores sporting their autumn speckling of Tar Spot Fungus. Leaves in the light were being used by a variety of insects as basking spots.
At the very back of the wetland on the reserve boundary were another three Roe Deer.
Closer to us was the Little Grebe family although they were well scattered across the lake. We found a drake Wigeon too
One of the young Little Grebes swam past him.
We also had a Chiffchaff on this visit, the Red Admirals were on the wing in the brighter spells and a dragonfly of unknown species flew past us - too quick for an ID.
At the car park we had a last peek at a lovely male Yellowhammer.
Driving out down the access track for the last time we spotted this small tree almost at the top of the mountain. 
If the hills weren't burnt (these aren't) or sheep grazed most of britain's uplands would be 'forested' in a wild tangle of stunted trees and shrubs with a fantastic 'biodiversity' of mosses, lichens, invertebrates, birds and mammals. Many areas would have a lot of self-seeded non-native conifers but does that matter too much as they wouldn't be growing in straight lines and do attract exciting species like Crossbills. Answers on a postcard please... 
After lunch we had a wander round Dalbeattie Forest. Lots of Siskins were heard, very few seen but no chance of any pics though. Jays were calling but not a lot else was seen. We had two Red Kites along the road and two skeins of about 150 Pink Footed Geese went over the supermarket car park during another enforced watch. Here unlike back home several shoppers stopped and looked up at the flocks as they flew over.
Our last day was a wet and windy one. But we went out during a bit of break in the rain and fortunately were out for a couple of hours without getting wet. We went back to Dalbeattie Forest bit a different part of it. Again we heard Jays shrieking unseen in the woods - Monty doesn't like their raucous squawks, he stops when he hears them looks in the direction of the sound and lowers his tail. Goldcrests, Siskins and at last Crossbills ((181) were all heard in good numbers and not seen in the dense canopy. 
The forest was awesome, shame there aren't more upland forests like this one although this is still, for the most part, a vast commercial tree farm. 
One of the trails had totem pole of leaping Salmon carved by local people and guests from the native American community of British Columbia, so these might be representations of Monika's Southern Residents Orcas' Chinnook Salmon It's about 20 feet tall
The living trees were cloaked in green - stunning!
Even the exposed roots had an arty feel about them overlain with contrasting needles from above.
One of our favourite finds of the whole week was in the lawn outside the ice-cream shop. tiny little fingers of fungus - we've no idea about the species...anyone out there know what it is?
A great week away and Monty had a great time away too.
Where to next? We've had a bit of success at the nature reserve and elsewhere since we've been back which we can tell you about tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's growing up at the top of the hill in your outback 

No comments: