Saturday, 10 November 2018

Getting cross over crossbills and some terrible toll tunnel trauma on a twitch

The Safari has been out n about enjoying the autumn colours, the hot summer is probably responsible for the vivid show everyone (hopefully everyone) is enjoying this season. 
Before we tell you of our adventures we've some info about the nasal saddled Pochard we told you about last time.  We submitted the data in the Colour Ringing website and as is often not the case the ringing scheme got back to us almost by return of post.
As you can see it's not been tagged that long but our sighting is the only one away from its assumed breeding area, or at least summering area.
If it hangs around at MartIn Mere all winter it's going to be reported a lot more butr it may leave then where will it turn up and will anyone see it and if they do will they report it? Please do if you do!
We've had a couple of visits to MartOn Mere - confusingly similar names. Mostly trying to dodge rain showers and totally failing to get any pics of the quite numerous but extraordinarily flighty Redwings, couldn't find any owls of any description either, although to be fair there's still quite a lot of leafery on the trees making spotting anything in the scrub nigh on impossible.
There are quite a few Water Rails on site at the mo and quite often they scurry between the islands of reeds in front of the Fylde Bird Club Hide, they don't hang around and rarely give any indication they're going to break cover so as soon as you spot one it's press that shutter button time and hope for the best before they reach the dense cover on the other side of the gap!
Along the embankment the light was much better even if there weren't many birds to be seen. The view's not bad though.
The scrub didn't give us any photo opportunities either so we decided to go 'round the back' on the Heron's Reach path to see if we could see any winter thrushes - we didn't and still haven't seen any Fieldfares round these parts but reports of them in oour area are now beginning to filter  through to us so there are some around now. The trees provided us with a gorgeous colour palette.
Later in the week we went up to Beacon Fell with JH and GB. We'd seen reports of large numbers of Crossbills at another site not too far to the south and the vis miggers have been seen odd birds, normally there are none, passing them at their coastal watch points so we thought the coniferous forest up in the Country Park had to be worth a try.
But walking round it became obvious that the woods were devoid of birds with barely a tweet heard. Can't believe we heard no Coal Tits, Goldcrests or Siskins. The only 'lively' area, and that wasn't THAT lively, was the tiny feeding station by the Visitor Centre and cafe where we sat outside with a brew. Small numbers of Blue and Great Tits and Chaffinches were coming and going, a couple of Coal Tits smash n grabbed as they do and a Blackbird came and went but star of the show was this posing Robin.
We haven't been on a 'proper' twitch for yonks preferring these days to drive no more than an hour to a site to do some birding and other wildlife spotting. Can't really remember when our last more distant twitch was. But that changed on Friday when we made the decision to go and see the Pied Wheatear that had been present on the north Wirral coast for a couple of days, just over an hour's drive away.
We picked up GB and set off. We had no problems negotiating the fairly busy Friday morning motorway and then being taken a rather odd route through Liverpool to reach the Mersey Tunnel but it was when we reached said tunnel that we had a bit of a serious blip. We followed a car in to the booth area and it went straight through but when we pulled up we saw there was nowhere to put our cash - we'd followed a car going through a pre-paid or contactless line - dohh they didn't have those last time we came this way so we ended up having to reverse out upsetting the line of vehicles behind us - thankfully not that many! Wonder if a brown envelope will end up on our doorstep in a few days with a citation, as the Yanks call them, in it - certainly hope not! But our calamities didn't end there, once through the booth and out on the open road we hit the gas to make up for lost time only to realise we'd passed two speed cameras at at least 10 mph over their limits - sincerely hope they weren't armed and dangerous!!!
Panics over the rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful. But where exactly was the bird? Not hard to find just look for the small crowd of birders assembled a little way down  the promenade.
The bird itself wasn't hard to find either, it was sat up on the seawall just six feet in front of the throng.
Time for a few photos of the Pied Wheatear, (192, PYLC 185 - Challenge target reached!) a British Isles Lifer for us - the last ones we saw were way back in the dim and distant late 1970s when we spent a summer working on a variety of ecological projects in Israel. Unless of course it gets re-identified as a, Eastern Black Eared Wheatear which could be a possibility, in which case we've seen them more recently, in Greece 2012.
Not the best light on our visit but we were lucky as it was its last day there, not being seen the following day.
We were giving Monty a stretch of the legs on the little green on the other side of the road when we noticed the group of birders moving our way down the prom. Looking towards where they were looking we saw the Pied Wheatear was sat on the sea wall directly behind our car. Never had a twitch quite like that before!
Not a bad looker for an immature bird. Unfortunately as GB had to back home for an appointment we couldn't stay too long or visit any other local sites, it really was a 'Tick n Run' twitch.
Today was a family day and a walk up the River Brock at the popular picnic spot. The threatened rain never showed up but the sky didn't really clear either so we although we thoroughly enjoyed the autumn spectacle we didn't see the colours quite at their most vivid.
Monty's not bothered about autumn colour, evenif he could see them - he's much happier with a river and a ball.
A beautiful afternoon out.

Where to next? Dunno yet but we'll be out on safari somewhere at least locally next week.

In the meantime let us know who's got all the colours of the rainbow in your outback.

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