Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Otterly brilliant at Marton Mere

The Safari had a morning out in Stanley Park with CR and GB at the end of last week. The plan was to see if we could get a bird to feed from G's hand, lots of  the birds in the park are habituated to do this due to the huge numbers of lovely peope who bring seeds for them. We walked down to the northern part of the lake going behind the boathouse with the intention of perusing the gulls and other waterfowl on the way back. There was some activity just beyond the Council's compost yard with the first of the day's Ring Necked Parakeets on one of the feeders by the ditch.
Yet again it was a dull and gloomy winter's day so the pics aren't the best but they give you a good idea of what was going on.
At the parakeet's nesting tree there are a few feeders for the small birds and so G stood close to the bushes arm outstretched with a hand full of best sunny seeds - he stood motionless for ages without a sniff of a bird coming to take his offerings - - they were flying over his shoulder to get food from the feeders totally ignoring him. There were several Blue Tits
At least half a dozen Great Tits

and a couple of Robins. A loud squawk above us had us all lookin g to the tree-tops where we found these two having a stretch and preen.
behind us and unbeknown to us a couple of Mute Swans had cruised up to the water's edge in the expectation of tit-bits no doubt. They weren't un-noticed by Monty who very naughtily made a 10 yard dart for them nearly tearing our manky finger from our palm as it got trapped in the handle of his lead. The pain was excruciating and with a visit to the surgeon coming up it might be getting near time to have the useless digit lopped off but that'll have serious implications for safaris later this year  when/if it happens. The Monster also needs to learn that chasing swans is unacceptable behaviour as is chasing Grey Squirrels and soon before he seriously hurts us trying to keep hold of him.
No lead as we were in that much pain we were unable to hold it
We moved away from the swans to deflect Montty's attention and wandered further along the lakeside passing a few Shovelers cruising through the Azolla infested area, not sure if they eat it or not, if they do they're not eating it fast enough or there's not enough Shovelers on the lake yet!
At the Conservation Area end of the lake we saw the first Heron up in the trees on the island nest-site this year. It's only a few short weeks until their first eggs are laid.
Also up this end of the lake is another area where people have put out some feeders and so once again G tried his hand (literally) at hand feeding the birds. Again he stood and stood and stood but to no avail, they just wouldn't come down to his offering. It wasn't the fault of the sunny seeds as they were taking ones from the same bag we'd distributed around the tree stumps and other feeders, maybe the birds just didn't recognise G as he's not one of the regular hand feeding people? There were plenty of birds about including a couple of very quick Coal Tits.
Poor quality but it shows their distinctive white nape for the Photo Challenge
Blue Tit comes in at number 48 on our Challenge
With time pressing it was about turn and back for a quioock last look at the Ring Necked Parakeets where we found just one this time, enjoying a succulent grape, not that grape vines grow in the park.
We had hoped a Nuthatch and/or a Great Spotted Woodpecker would put in an appearance at one pf the feeding areas but the closest we got was just one Nuthatch calling unseen from high in the tree-tops near the boathouse. or was anything particularly photogenic among the waterfowl as we walked passed the southern part of the lake. Time for lunch!
A late afternoon Monty walk with Wifey saw us meeting GB in Fleetwood where we took a cold and very blustery stroll along the prom to the marine lake. After a brief glimpse last week G had much better views, if fact despite being Fleetwood born n bred and lurking round the marine lake often in his younger days his best ever views of the Red Breasted Mergansers that are often found on there in the winter. The weather was atrocious and so is our pic (PYLC #49) but at least we didn't get the biblical rain, thunder and lightening that was reported not far away to the south.
Hopefully to be bettered for the Challenge in future but they all count even at ISO 25600!
On Sunday evening news broke that a regular visitor had posted some superb footage - do videos have feet? - of not one, not two, but three Otters at Marton Mere; we can only surmise that it must be a female with a couple of cubs, excellent news!!! The footage looked remarkably similar to some we took a couple of weeks over seven years ago although WL's sighting was nearer - he was in the hide should have been in - the one we wanted to move to in our commentary - and no doubt his kit will be more up-to-date with better resolution.

Nothing for it but to pick up CR on Monday morning and high tail it round there. Monday morning was like most mornings so far this year a dull grey gloomy affair with the serious threat of rain in the air. We got to the Feeding Station just in time to escape a sharp shower and while we waited for it to pass over we enjoyed the alien show, Pheasants (PYLC #50) and Grey Squirrels along with a small number of native birds including three Dunnocks and at least one Coal Tit.
Still up at ISO Ridiculous
Once the shower had passed we set off to view the lake and almost as soon as we'd arrived at the Bittern watching area' C spotted an Otter about half way across at our end of the mere - result!. A couple of hasty snaps were taken before we scampered to the Dragonfly Den Hide hoping it would swim that way as it has done in the past.
From the hide the animal was still distant and didn't come any closer but did give superb views as it fished for the best part of half an hour.
It has a fish in this pic but the resolution isn't good enough to be able to tell which species, it's not an Eel that's all we can say
Trying to catch it leaping just before its head hit the water proved impossible - or just  unlucky
Similarly it was double tricky trying to second guess where it would come up out of the water and then would it be facing the front?
An absolutely fabulous half hour - Marton Mere has to be the best site to see Otters in the daytime in the whole of the north of England at the moment, if you've never seen one or want to see one again get yourselves down there ASAP.

Where to next? We've got a date with some ouls if they're willing to show themsleves

In the meantime let us know who's putting on the aquatic show in your outback

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