The Safari had a morning on the North Blackpool Pond Trail yesterday. A conservation event had been organised with the Freshwater Habitats Trust to clear Willow trees that were growing in the pond to create a larger and unshaded area of open water. The pond is one of their 'Flagship Ponds' meaning it's one of the top 10% best ponds in the country. Its location between long-term footy fields and a housing estate probably means that there's never been any nutrient input like manure or fertiliser spread nearby and seeped in making the water too rich. The only inputs are blown leaves and rain!...and the leaves issue is being sorted.
It was a chilly frosty morning and everyone was eager to make a start once the formalities of the health n safety briefing and the tools talk had been completed.
|Cold over-the-wellies work!|
|That looks a bit heavy S|
|Gone - and it's gonna make a big splash!!!|
|That looks a bit more manageable|
With everybody's heads down concentrating on the job in hand not much wildlife was seen apart from a youngish Frog and a flock of Long Tailed Tits working their way through the ever decreasing twiggery - seems to be a thing this week!
We had to leave for other commitments at lunchtime but looking at the group's Facebook page there was plenty more achieved in the afternoon session.
There's always something to do along the Pond Trail so if you're at a loose end and fancy getting stuck in please get in touch.
In an attempt to get Monty drier and cleaner we took him to the prom late in the afternoon, which unlike almost everywhere else is more or less mud free. He had his usual ball with his ball but unfortunately his good buddy Stanley wasn't able to join him for a mad half hour's romp. He did get to enjoy a bit of a dig and a gorgeous Blackpool sunset though.
Today we were planning taking GB out to Marton Mere for his first visit in ages but an injury to him caused by a domestic appliance (a dangerous thing is a hoover!!!) put paid to that so we went on our own with Monty. We had the big lens with us and no tools today so only stopped to say hello to the volunteers who are still clearing the hedge line prepping it up in readiness for next week's laying session - again if you're at a loose end and fancy meeting a bunch of friendly folk, learning new skills and doing something positive for your environment please get in touch. There's so much going on out there it's impossible to say you're bored; you've got nothing to do!
After saying hello and getting all the negative local bird news (although the tempting Preston Firecrest is still present at the sewage works) we wandered off round the reserve visiting the very quiet Feeding Station first and not stopping long. We didn't stop at Dragonfly Den but kept going to the Bird Club Hide where J was already watching from. He hadn't seen much, most of the waterfowl were tucked tight in to the reeds on the far bank to get out of the bitingly cold wind.
A Water Rail was seen briefly right under the SE Viewing Platform bit darted in to the reeds far too quickly for any chance of raising the camera...it was in deep shade anyway. There was no sign of the Stonechat around the new ponds from the very cold east embankment, if it was that cold here today how cold was it on the East Embankment at Cley in Norfolk??? Brrrrrrrrrrrrr and double brrrrrrrrrrrr we guess.
Earlier we'd had a brief chat to TS who told us he'd seen two female Bullfinches very well in the scrub, it'd be good if they were still there and sitting up all photogenic and all. We scanned the bushes and listened to no avail. A few Blackbirds, calling but unseen Fieldfares, a Dunnock and a Robin were all we could find.
|Are you lookin at me?!?!|
We also spotted a Grey Squirrel having a doze soaking up the warming rays.
J said he'd seen a few, more than ever before, on this side of the reserve in recent visits and sure enough just round the corner was another enjoying the sunshine, shame the same can't be said for a Long Eared Owl - where are they this year?
|We're pretty sure there are actually two tails here - what do you think?|
As we were taking this pic we heard the low call of a Bullfinch from somewhere deep in the scrub behind the squirrel. There were calls and calls but no sign...and then one flew - so we followed it. More calling but no can see - arrrghhhh. With no Bullfinch luck we checked a few more previous Long Eared Owl spots again with no luck and left J to go on to the Viewing Platform while we retraced our steps and left the reserve in the NE corner to give Monty a bit of off-lead time.
'Round the back' where we used to watch the Long Eared Owls from we heard the Bullfinch again but again it wasn't possible to see ti deep in the scrub...frustrating! The race is on for someone to ge the first decent pic of one at Marton Mere, now if TS carried a camera we'd all have long since been beaten to it!
Further down the track this Norway Maple stood out from the leafless crown shining like gold in the late morning sunlight.
On the path back to the car we saw LR's favourite gull; a Black Headed Gull that's been patrolling this stretch of track across the field every winter for more winters than we care to remember; is it five, seven, 10, more?
Year in year out he wanders up and down this stretch of the track, drifting up and overhead if someone comes along to start the march again.
But it all begs the question; where does (s)he spend the summer, on the local salt marshes, Denmark, Czechoslovakia (OK OK we know there's no such place anymore) or even further afield?
Wonder where does he go from here?
It was walking towards an Apple tree with a few remaindf apples on the branches and a good number of windfalls beneath. earlier we'd heard Fieldfare(?) calling from here but would they be there now. There was movement in the lower branches but only three Blackbirds dropped to the ground, no Fieldfares this time.
We'd forgotten how good Michael Schenker is
A bitterly cold morning but a great safari none the less...and our thermal socks, last year's Christmas pressy, worked a treat on their first outing, no cold toes in our wellies!
But even with all that great wildlife the best sighting of the day was watching Monty get to grips (or not) with the first serious ice of his life, if he has come across it before, last January of February he's certainly forgotten about its lack of traction - it was quite amusing in a sort of cruel sort of a way watching him slithering about on it this morning...and he couldn't drink it either!
Where to next? To the Southside on family duties tomorrow but there might be a chance to see something somewhere.
In the meantime let us know who';s marching up and down with monotonous regularity in your outback.