The Safari could do with a little less time out in the field taking photos and more time sat at the puter processing the 1000s we've not caught up with and writing about them - err no actually we're quite happy to be out n about on safari in all weathers!
However we have been busy out in the fields this week.
We went back Over Wyre with CR for another try for the Turtle Dove and after a short wait we found it when a flock of Collared Doves flew from a line of large conifers and some settled in an isolated Hawthorn bush.
|Three species of pigeon in one bush|
|Shame about the shadow|
With the Turtle Dove (109, PYLC #85) and not much else around on the marshes we headed for another look at the Twite flock on the slipway at Knott End but they had been replaced by a gang of workmen with a big digger breaking concrete so were nowhere to be seen. All was not lost though as CR can now heartily recommend the village pie shop - Top quality scram for not a lot of loot!
From there we drove north stopping at Lane Ends to eat our lunch and where there were only a few very distant Pink Footed Geese and no sign of the recent Brent Goose.
Conder Green gave us little except a Little Grebe and a pair of Lesser Black Backed Gulls that looked like they may have taken over the tern nesting raft - they'll probably eat all the Avocet and Common Tern eggs/chicks on the other islands if they stay there which won't be good - - apart from for their own chicks that is.Cracking views of Teal in the creeks and a few Redshank were down there too.
Kestrel hovered over the marsh
From there we drove the lanes down to the estuary passing herds of Whooper and Mute Swans on the way but seeing very little else in the fields and roadside ditches. The field behind the car park held at least 40 Skylarks which although not singing were getting in the mood for spring with lots of aerial chases and excitable twittering.
The tide was coming in quickly and concentrating Redshanks, Oystercatchers, and Turnstones on the rapidly diminishing shoreline, further out on Plover Scar there was a tidy flock of Wigeon and beyond them outside the light surf a small flock of Eiders (PYLC #86)
The fields were disappointingly quite but in the distance we could see a number of dots so we drove round to investigate, lots of Lapwings and Starlings, a good number of Dunlin feeding around a flood while the tide was in and covering the mud flats and a few Curlews and Redshanks, up the hill were three Brown Hares sitting quietly no doubt waiting to go mad next week in March. No sign of any Golden Plovers which is what we were hoping might have been there.
We headed back inland to the farmland feeding stations, the first had no food, the second already had a birders car parked up. The light was awful looking towards the table and spread of seeds on the ground but we did see a Yellowhammer (110) and numerous Tree Sparrows. When another car full of birders arrived we left and decided to go further inland still to investigate the River Brock at Bilsborough. A good move it was much milder away from the wind of the coast and flat fields. But our drive took us through the back lanes and one of those appropriately named Back Lane that we didn't travel along but weren't far from had had a Red Kite we learned later - doh if only we'd known at the time would have only been a minor detour.
The river soon gave up its quarry, a Dipper (111, PYLC #87)
Kingfisher or Grey Wagtail though.
The following day we were in Stanley Park with a family group looking at the birds to be found there using a game of Bird Bingo. We didn't have a camera with us, these pics are from KQ's phone.
|Ring Necked Parakeet high in the branches|
A pair of Great crested grebes doing their courtship dance
Herons on their nests
Canada geese 2
Shoveler 1 male
Common gulls 2
Black headed gulls - who's heads are actually brown have a close look next time you see them
Ring necked parakeets - pair wit hthe female poking her head out of the nest hole...are there eggs in there yet?
Pied wagtail 1
Blackbird 1 male
Nuthatch at least 2
Carrion crows Some notable missing species especially Cormorant and Gadwall but that's birding for you; you never know what are and aren't going to spot.
Our next safari was back to Pennington Flash, not been for four years then twice in a week. This time we were with GB. It wasn't quite as lively as last week with CR but it was still good.
A Little Egret on one of the pools was unexpected (By us used to seeing them at the coast at least - we don't know if they are regular there)
There were a few Gadwall here too
The feeding station wasn't quite a lively as last week but there was still plenty of interest going on. No Water Rails or Willow Tits today but other odd stuff instead.
|Stars of the show!|
This Chaffinch spent ages sat like this - but what's it doing, it looks like Anting or sunbathing behaviour but on a cold day in late February there's certainly no ants and there wasn't anything by way of sunshine either????? It flew up from here on to a mossy branch and continued to snuggle down pressing its wings and wrapping its tail tightly round the branch for many miutes - really odd. We've had a look in a couple of books and can't find any reference to it, not looked in Ian Newton's 'Finches' yet which is on the top shelf above our head as we type.
|Any food in here?|
|What you lookin at?|
What a cracking looking bird, but then if they all looked like that we say a 'normal' one was a cracking looking bird - well they are anyway aren't they!Stock Doves are lookers too in an understated sort of way.
Friday morning saw us back on more familiar territory with CR, Marton Mere. Good sunshine but a cool wind and not too many birds.
A couple of Skylarks (MMLNR #55) went north overhead as we walked across the field and a Song Thrush (MMLNR #56) sang from the scrub by the gate.
A couple of Lesser Black Backed Gulls (MMLNR #57) were on the water as we walked past Ice Station Zebra not daring to venture in in the cold wind!
The Bird Club hide gave us the best photo opportunities, but the Cetti's Warbler singing just below us refused to show itself.
|Black Headed Gull|
From the platform in the south east corner of the mere we got lovely views of several Gadwall.Fieldfares in the fields to the east and got an awful distant pic for the Challenge (PYLC #88) when they flew up on to the wires.
|You can tell they are Fieldfares - right?|
A quick look in the north east corner had us find a Jack Snipe (112, MMLNR 57) and then two Snipe (MMLNR #58) - We've never had Jack Snipe before Snipe there on our year lists before!!!
The scrub areas were quiet until right up by the gate when we spotted a Kestrel hunting, it was in great light but by the time we'd raised our cameras it had swung round to hunt a different part of the scrub wit hthe sun now right behind it - shouldn't have bothered pressing the shutter button really, it took a lot of processing to get this poor image.
So a cracking week out on safari.
Where to next? The 'Beast from the East' is due at the weekend bringing some challenging weather next week but we're hoping to see a 'Beast from the North' on Sunday...and who knows where we'll end up on safari during the week any plans we make could be weather affected.
In the meantime let us know who's trying to enjoy the limp winter sun in your outback.