The Safari has had a family and friend filled festive holiday and hopes you have too. On Boxing Day we had a wander up the prom with Wifey and Monty. It wasn't a bad day with little wind and some sunshine so everyone and his or her uncle was out walking off their excesses from the previous day. We didn't see a great lot of wildlife to to be honest we weren't looking too hard. Away on the top of Bowland's highest
peak point, Ward's Stone, the afternoon sun was lighting up a little cap of snow, now if it fell on the fell before midnight that would make it a white Christmas in Lancashire.
The following day we were visiting friends just over the Cumbria birder where a walk to the pub gave us lovely views of the Lake District fells showing their good covering of snow on the higher ground.
|In the snow; L>R Bow Fell, Pike o' Stickle, Gimmer Crag, Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark|
|We think the 'big one' is Red Screes|
This morning's early morning dog walk through up a pleasant surprise when we heard a Raven (P1 #43), only the second time we've had them here in 13 1/2 years. Looking round we saw a Carrion Crow and thought we'd made a mistake but then heard the 'cronk' again and looking round behind us watched two soaring in synchronised flight around the top of the water tower - nice!!!
Later we met up with CR for a spin round Marton Mere. He'd arrived a little before us and had already seen a nice blotchy leucistic male Blackbird. We stopped in the hide affectionately known as Ice Station Zebra, it wasn't too cold today. There were a few Herring Gulls, plenty of Coot and Wigeon but not a lot else. Looking well to our right to see if we could get a glimpse of any more gulls further down the mere and got a surprise view of a Bittern flying across the water into the far corner.
At the Bird Club hide we again scoured the gulls, more Black Headed Gulls and fewer Herring Gulls here but also good numbers of Teal and more yet Wigeon. Best of the rest was a female Mallard lording it over everyone else being Queen of the Castle on the 'goalpost'. That would come into play later too.
|Big full crop there!|
We continued the circuit seeing not much more than a few more Teal on the way, the embankment and scrub were very quiet apart from a handful of Robins. No sign or sign of any of the Bullfinches.
Round at Heron Hide the light was horrid but we still had to scan the gulls of which there were more Herring Gulls now. One of them raised up and had a flap in front of the 'goalpost' - oh yes the Iceland Gull (190, MMLNR #89, YBC #167) was there and we got pretty good views through the bins despite the rotten light as it took to a vigorous bathe. But by the time we'd lowered our bins and raised the camera it had drifted a little way and in the dreadful light we couldn't find it in the viewfinder so had to resort to taking a 'scattergun' of shots in the hope it would be there and in focus. It was, but it wasn't.
Something unseen flushed the gulls and many of them moved further down the lake but a good few left, unfortunately the Iceland Gull was with that group.
From the Viewing Platform we counted at least 225 Wigeon and we knew there were more hidden in the reeds at the far end so probably over 250 were on site, a good number for here. C saw a Little Grebe that we missed but that probably didn't make up for him not seeing the Bittern nor the Iceland Gull.
Back at the car a couple of Magpies were in the tree by the hedge too close for the 600mm but we had to snap away as the opportunity was too good to miss before we headed off back to Base Camp for a brew.
Where to next? Might well get back out to Marton Mere again tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's lording up in your outback.