The Safari was able to meet up with CR again for a short afternoon safari out to Brockholes Lancashire Wildlife trust reserve the other day. Weather-wise it was a very pleasant late summer afternoon but there was a chilly breeze when you got out from the shelter of the trees, on the other side of the trees it still felt warm enough for mid-summer.
We had a couple of target species we hoped to catch up with and in the lee of the trees in the sun out of the wind there were plenty of dragonflies on the wing which was a hopeful sign that there might be a Hobby about during the afternoon.
Our other hoped for species wasn't on show from the 'Visitor Village' so we had a look at the fish, either Roach or Rudd, showing well a foot or so beneath the feet of some inquisitive ducks close to edge of the deck. With no sign of our quarry we moved over the main track to have a look at the other large pool, it was here we discovered that the wind was rather nippier than we'd expected. Brrrr...
CR spotted that some of the nest holes in the Sand Martin nesting bank had been boarded up, a bit like the windows in our (now long gone) local pub when we lived nearby. But the reserve manager later informed us that the Sand Martins aren't hooligans but the plastic tubes holding the sand have collapsed and could trap the birds inside so it was decided to cover them over to prevent any accidents. Five of the holes were used this season with the bulk of the colony still using the natural bank on the river a few hundred yards away.
Looking the other way much of the Willow that had taken over the low islands has been removed by the volunteers, extremely hard work apparently and to keep said Willow at bay we spotted an unusual visitor to the island, a small flock of Hebridean Sheep.
They should be hardy enough to stay out there most of the winter and when they've eaten all the stuff they really like they'll get munching on the Willow and hopefully next spring the island will be in peak un(or lightly)vegetated condition ready for the onslaught of breeding waders.
We'd soon had enough of the cold wind and got back to the sunny side to warm up. Here the glade was alive with butterflies and dragonflies including this Comma doing its best to look like one of the shriveling Bramble leaves.
A Green Veined White was close by too, making up for not being able to get a pic of earlier - well we got several pics but they were all bway beyond awful and the delete button was happily used.
Crossing the road we had a look at the main pool, sadly much of it is smothered with New Zealand Pygmy Weed, probably something the reserve team can do little about - effective biological control will be the answer if a suitable organism can be found, but on a drier patch we did see a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (174) scooting around some rocks close to the water's edge. We took a shed load of pics but at the range and with the heat haze the delet button was needed to excess again.
Something caught our eye to the right - how did we miss it earlier??? A Roe Deer was out grazing on a little island. We've not seen many of these lovely mammals this year so to have extended views of this one out in the open was a real treat.
It did however give us some cause for concern when it turned around and we saw large areas of missing fur, we're not sure if this is normal or not, it certainly doesn't look it but perhaps it is only moulting as the exposed skin doesn't look to have been broken or cut.
After a few more minutes it wandered off Stage Right and had we turned up then we'd have never have know it was there, it just melted into the thinnest of vegetation and out of sight.
A few yards further on we had another opportunity to get some more pics of the Little Ringed Plover, again serious squinting required and you'll just be able to see a hint of a white brow-line and pale eye ring.
|Squint hard! Little Ringed Plover (PYLC 154)|
As we walked a few more yards back towards the car park another distant movement caught our eye, another Roe Deer had walked out of the reeds on the far side of the pool. We lost sight of it in the thick vegetation on one of the islands then suddenly it bolted out of cover to cross the rest of the lake making for a clump of reeds and a bit of a Willow thicket right in front of us.
We anticipated where it would go to but didn't reckon on it being right by the side road lurking behind the nearest tree to the kerb. We saw its ears twitch as we approached which gave it away. We stopped and tried ever so cautiously to change the settings on the camera for dark things hiding in dark undergrowth but it saw us and was away back down the bank towards the water.
Wandering back through along the reedbed walk to the car we came across some sieve like leaves of Alder trees where a multitude of Alder Leaf Beetles had been hard at work.
Not a bad little visit and some great sightings, including nearly getting knocked down by a Brown Hare which came careering round a corner screeching to a halt then veering off at the last minute when it saw us.We didn't spot the famous car park resident Kevin the extremely photogenic Kestrel though.
Where to next? A bit of a Safari southwards coming up.
In the meantime let us know who's boarding up all the holes in your outback.