Saturday, 10 February 2018

A little bit of snow and a little bit of sunshine

The Safari has had family duties out of town two days this week so we've not been able to do as much safari-ing as we'd normally do. Snow fell hard in the morning at the start of the week and even stuck a little. We walk up the hill on Patch 1 adding Starling (P1 #22) to the Patch list and then Collared Doves (P1 #22) followed by a Sparrowhawk flying over the road on the way back (P1 #23), a productive few minutes! The chilly weather brought new garden visitors for the year in the form of a pair of Collared Doves (Garden #14, PYLC #73). A Wren was poking about in the tatty remnants of last year's flowers in the tubs too but wouldn't stay still enough for a pic.
By the afternoon the snow had stopped and the light improved a little and we were able to get another pic of the pair of Collared Doves now feeling loved-up in the milder conditions.
Prior to that we'd taken Monty for his first ever walk in proper snow - it made him a bit giddy even though there was only half an inch of the stuff lying on the ground before it started to melt.
The full wander of the Heron's Reach circuit had us finding very little apart from several Blackbirds and a couple of Robins and Magpies, best were six Song Thrushes, but everything else must have been well hunkered down avoiding the weather. A quick peek under the refugium that wasn't floating gave us two tiny Toadlets from last year's brood.
At the end of the week a morning out in pleasant sunshine but unpleasant wind at Marton Mere with CR gave us little in the way if photo opportunities. The Feeding Station gave us the most birds but the light was very harsh and challenging.
Blue Tit pretending to be a Treecreeper
Looking across the water it was evident that most of the birds were taking shelter in the reeds at the west end, not a lot was out on the water except for the tough-nut Coot. From the rees in the south west corner we heard a Water Rail call and Cetti's Warbler do a bit of subsong neither were going to show themselves any time soon.
There were very few gulls about so the chances of finding the Iceland Gull were slim to remote so we had to make do with pointing the camera at a passing Herring Gull instead.
At the wickedly cold embankment we spotted a couple of Stock Doves (107, MMLNR #50) on the end of the big barn, and four more on one of the smaller barns. They would have been PYLC #74 but we don't think the pic is quite good enough, we're sure to a better one at some stage in the year but this could be a banker - just in case.
What we didn't spot at the time and only noticed when we downloaded the pics off the camera was the male Kestrel sitting on the spar to their right.
The walk up through the scrub gave us nothing more, barely a bird in sight until a Greenfinch singing at the top of a path side bush went camera shy and did a bunk before we could lift said camera. And that was just about the end of the session until a Weasel carrying prey zoomed across the path in front of us, the first we've seen for far too long. Far too quick for a pic as it disappeared into the long grass on the far side of the track with its luckless victim.
Very quiet today so we hope that tomorrow will be better.
Where to next? We've got a couple of adventures lined up for the coming week - weather permitting.
In the meantime let us know who's enjoying the wintry conditions in your outback.

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