Wednesday 30 September 2009


No the safari doesn’t mean the small fish commonly found in slower flowing rivers, more the total lack of anything worth mentioning. Yesterday Patch 1 was visited in almost total darkness before even the Robins had woken up and Patch 2 was dire apart from a smaller-than-of-late number of Common Scoters.
Mid morning, suddenly and unexpectedly there was almost a sniff at some excitement when MJ popped in to work and said he had only just set up over the road when he scoped a small flock of passing Shelducks which included a Ruddy Shelduck. Now these are often classed as being of dubious origin but they are always a welcome addition to the day/month/year/site lists.
Today wasn’t much better although we hit Patch 1 at first light and 16 Robins were counted. They must be local as a trawl through the local obs/ringing blogs hasn’t revealed any concerted Robin passage yet. No sign of the Peregrine on the water tower so I think it likely that it was on passage and has now moved on, our tasty Pigeons were obviously not tempting enough to make it stick around.
Minutes before getting back to Base Camp a Great Spotted Woodpecker called, didn’t see it so it could have been either flying over in the gloom or perched up in the trees at the end of the street.
Patch 2’s pre-work sea-scan was cut short by the simple fact that bar a handful of Common Scoters there was naff all else out there. Mid-morning a Grey Wagtail was heard through the open window behind me - a desk tick! There seems to be a fair few passing through the west coast at the moment.
Can’t stay this bad forever, strong winds forecast for the weekend – will they be strong enough for long enough and from the right direction to bring something worth seeing in…anything will do at the moment.
Wow!!! Patch 2 at lunchtime packs a punch…the giddy heights of a Ringed Plover, first of the season on this stretch of beach…I can hardly contain my excitement! See also Fleetwoodbirder.
A blast from the past occurred when out with Extreme Photographer on Patch 1 at the weekend. Shortly after I recorded the ‘now known to be’ Grey Squirrel sounds we discovered something you don’t see much these days - - white doggy do-do. Bizarrely, foraging around on the bloggosphere last night I found recent reference to said doggy do-do on Of Birds and Pies from the previous weekend…spooky or what…is the stuff back in fashion? Unlike the other blogger neither myself or our Extreme Photographer took a picture, maybe we were so taken aback by its very presence we were stood there transfixed and couldn't get the cameras out.
Where to next? Before the winds arrive I think it will only be the usual short or in darkness (oh for an Owl of some description) visits to Patch 1 & 2. With regard to the little Bleak I’m reminded that I’ve not been fishing for donkey’s yonks, maybe it’s time to blow the dust of the rod and wipe the cobwebs from my reel.
In the meantime let us know what’s not happening in your outback.
BTW where did that Sandhill Crane end up?…Please don’t tell me it’s strutting around Pilling marsh!
Apologies for absence of pics day soon...promise.

Monday 28 September 2009

Many thanks

The safari has received info from Shy Song Bird that the strange call recorded yesterday is from a Grey Squirrel. Thank you SSB...I doubt I would have got that at all - I was under the (misguided) impression it was a bird and mammals never entered my head. So you see you learn something new every day, that's the joy of being into wildlife - there is no way you could ever know it all so therefore there will always be something new to learn. Reviewing yesterdays evening Patch 1 walk I shouldn't be so surprised because there was a lot of squirrel activity. Feeding, dashing about the tree-tops and a game of chase-me; probably amounting to at least five individuals...none of them staying still long enough for the camera to come in to play.
Too busy at work to get to Patch 2 but should be able to give it 5 or 10 minutes tomorrow...hopefully something half decent will be about, a Porpoise, Leach's Petrel and Pomarine Skua have all been seen at various places along our coast by the lucky few in recent or more of those would set the rest of the day up very nicely.
Sorry no photos today.
Where to next? Obviously the Prom and then the Prom again.
In the meantime let us know what's making the weird squeaks in your outback.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Help needed...

Autumn arrived in safari-land today in the form of the first real showing of colour on the trees at Patch 1. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers came bouncing in from the east to land in the trees top left in the pic. as soon as they landed they started 'chipping' excitedly for a good while, migrants?

Over the houses in the distance beyond the hedge a Sparrowhawk was soaring around winding up the local Feral Pigeons. A couple of Speckled Wood butterflies were still on the wing. Concentrating on the woodpeckers I heard a tit flock start to move through. Soon enough the first Long Tailed Tits came by, one doing very well hopping from branch to branch without the aid of a head!Normally they look more like this...

Base Camp had the first Chaffinch of the winter this arvo.

The Greenshank is one of PW's from Conder Green, digi-binned by extreme photographer, Raf, who hadn't brought the longest lens in the world for once...and of course we needed it!

The Smooth Newt is another of Raf's from last weekend.

Leaving Patch 1 this arvo there was an unusual sound coming out of the thickest bushes. Nothing for it but to get a recording so camera switched to video and press the go button. anyone got any ideas what it first choice was a Magpie but it kept on repeating this phrase over and over for several minutes before I decided I needed help. There is nothing to see in the video just listen to the repeated call. Common and really ought to know it, something unusual or something escaped??? Help please...

Where to next? Busy, busy day at work tomorrow so only the briefest blimp over the sea wall may be possible.

In the meantime let us know what's making the weirdest noises in your outback.

Saturday 26 September 2009

So little it's hard to think of a title for this post

The safari was on Patch 1 well before first light this morning. Absolutely nothing doing at all not even a Robin or Wren. On the way back home checked out the water tower - sadly no sign of the Peregrine today. A good many Magpies rattling away in 'Magpie Wood' but still too many leaves to be able to see most of them and too dark anyway. Frank and I managed to sit quietly and watch the Fox for a several minutes without dog-induced incident - well done Frank! In fact as we headed off home for breakfast in the half-light of dawn we could still see his eye-shine catching the light from the street-lamps - well done Frank, can you behave well again later tonight and/or tomorrow morning?
A little later Patch 2 was given the shortest of goes. The usual strip of Common Scoters was bobbing along out there. They were very settled on the calmest sea for a fair while with very few flying around so no chance off seeing the odd one out. Absolutely nothing else over the sea - nothing at all. Gulls, Oystercatchers and a couple of Sanderlings knocking about around the low watermark on the beach. Not a decent gull to be seen - no sign of the dodgy Herring Gull seen earlier in the week, white wing tips with black 'mirrors' almost like 2nd year Mediterranean Gull. 'Northern' Herring Gull? - Surely far too early this far west and the light nowhere near good enough to determine if the mantle colour was significantly paler than normal.
Best news of the day was that both Everton and Blackpool won. Blackpool are now at their highest position in the league for a helluva lot of years - 5th in the Championship (= Div 2). If their current form continues they should hit the relegation 'safety' total of 50 points in 26 games (15 more games so a way to go yet) leaving 20 left to attack a Play-off place...Come on you Tangerines!!!
After full time it was time to hit Patch 1 again. Took the camera seeing as how it was still light. Missed the only shot of the day a low slow fly-over by a male Sparrowhawk - but still couldn't get the camera organised fast enough. A few Blackbirds rustled in the dry, fallen leaves and there was a little song from Robins...what will the morning bring? The Magpies were giving something on the water tower a bit of lip but rather than the Peregrine it turned out to be two Crows.
Where to next? Only a short blast out may be possible tomorrow unless of course the Sandhill Crane lands somewhere twitchable then all plans might just go straight out of the window.
In the meantime who's winning in your outback.

Friday 25 September 2009

A twitch and an incursion + an edit

Edit - managed to retrieve one of the pics from Conder Green - this is where the first Greenshank we saw at this site landed...see below for details.
The safari managed to get out and about at last and a good trip it was too.

First up was a twitch for the Green Woodpecker that has been lurking around a local cemetery for a while now. A check on the Fylde Bird Club's website revealed it hadn't been seen since the weekend. Had it gone, had no-one been to check? still was worth a try. Turned up and the place was alive (sorry - couldn't resist that one) with birds. Blackbirds, Goldfinches, House Sparrows and a couple of Pied Wagtails. No sign of the 'pecker though. A Starling poking around on the uncut part of the lawn was in fine winter plumage but not what we wanted. The a Sparrowhawk belted through and shook everything up - lo-and-behold a very dippy flight an upward sweep and best of all a vivid yellow rump. Fylde tick in the bag! But then it disappeared into the other side of the cemetery. Try as we might we couldn't find it. We did come across a Great Spotted Woodpecker whilst looking for its larger cousin. Then it reappeared, dived into a bush and straight out the other side, flew over the road across the horse fields to a wood in the distance - so no chance of a photo opportunity, a little disappointing but hey tick in the bag! On to another site...We couldn't decide where to go, chose somewhere but ended up somewhere else. The local boatyard on the river is frequented by a good selection of waders, worth a try for a Curlew Sandpiper or two. The tide was out and the birds spread across the whole estuary. without a scope we were always going to struggle to pick out a goody. But Redshank, Knot, Dunlin, Lapwing and Curlew were all present in good numbers.A handful of Black Tailed Godwits gracefully probed the mud, a Greenshank was a rewarding find. Shelducks, Mallard and Teal represented the waterfowl.

We admired the beautiful boats!

Did you catch the name of this one? - Have a closer look...
More like no hope than good hope.
A skein of Pink Footed Geese went over...winter is definitely on its way.At brew time Frank didn't get any.

His face says it all.

Time to move on again...but where to. I had an idea lets invade someone-elses patch and see what all the fuss is about. So we pointed the Land Rover across the river and headed for Conder Green, Birds2blog territory.

An interesting site indeed. Wide river banks, fringing saltmarsh, creeks, a well wooded old railway line with pasture on the inland side. I'm describing this for you cos the pictures I took didn't come out for some reason or other.

Birds were similar to Skipool. But we did get a Raven, possibly two, croaking away at the top of a huge Sycamore tree. A sheep pasture was smothered with low-flying Swallows feeding up like mad for their long journey south. The small number of Wigeon were the first of the year for us, as was a flock of around 50 Golden Plovers.Another pasture field was full of Lapwings, always nice to see good numbers of this bird, one of the birds of my youth. A Greenshank flew across the river and landed smack in front of us...nice, don't get to see these very often at all these days so two in a day is special. Grilling the few gulls didn't give us any Mediterranean's unfortunately. Walking along the old railway line towards Glasson Dock we had another Greenshank...that could have been a different one to earlier. They're getting like buses now...don't see one for ages then three come along together! But they weren't finished...we went a bit further and then retraced our steps to find two Greenshanks together...and a little further on we got the full house...Redshank, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank in the bins together. Doesn't get much better than that. A huge flotilla of Mute Swans was an impressive sight. A well worthwhile invasion of another's patch, may well do a longer more thorough repeat visit someday soon!
Back at Base Camp the kitchen window Garden Cross Spider was tucking in to an unlucky Red Admiral.
Where to next? Back at work tomorrow so a quick scan off the prom is likely but on Sunday there could be a short safari of sorts.

In the meantime let us know what's living on your river banks.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Black velvet?

The safari can feel the nectar that is Guinness and champagne slipping silkily past the tonsils...mmm exquisite. However it is not one of the world's best drinks we are concerned about here. Some lucky so-n-so had MY Velvet Scoter today flying north from North Shore i.e. going the WRONG way! I was watching, briefly again, from South Shore where I could only manage the same Common Scoters as yesterday, one or more could be an American Black Scoter but unless I had one in the hand I don't think I'd ever tell the difference, certainly not at 1/2 mile+ range bobbing about on a very choppy sea. Nothing else out there at all today unless you count a small flock of Oystercatchers and a single Sanderling scurrying around between the gulls on the beach - and none of them was a Slaty Backed Gull. Sadly no Tufted Puffins, Ancient Murrelets or Rhinoceros Auklets either as far as I could see.
Precious little else to report. Patch 1 - the park - was dead or at least hadn't yet woken up... Yesterday's Peregrine was still there on the water tower well before sun up. I could see it in the glow from the street lights sitting in exactly the same place we had seen it last night. A little later after a mooch around the park in the dark it had gone. Wasn't there tonight so has it moved on or will it be back?
What is it with Frank and Foxes? Last night we spotted our gingery friend as he calmly went about his business. I sat big Frank down and slowly crouched down beside him. A couple of minutes we sat there watching. Frank suddenly got it in his head that Foxy isn't for watching he's for chasing! Two huge deep barks made the poor Fox leg it for cover. Frank shot after him dragging me from crouch to sprawl in a millisecond, cracking my chin on the concrete in the process. I let go; he charged off with his lead rattling along at a merry rat-a-tat-tat on the track behind him. Then, knock me down with a feather - he did it AGAIN this morning. This time I'd didn't see the Fox until it was too late - by now the nobble on my humerus was practically wrenched from its socket in my shoulder blade. I dropped the lead and Frank was off. The big question is what would he do if he ever caught up with the poor unfortunate creature - lick it and give it a good sniffing probably.
Where to next? A wildlife safari perhaps even with pictures tomorrow...Wow that'll make a refreshing change.
In the meantime let us know what's chasing who or who's chasing what in your outback.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

It's getting scoter and scoter

The safari has very little to report today - hardly worth putting finger to keyboard. Absolutely nothing in the park at first light, never known it so quiet.
The briefest of brief look over the wall at the sea. Again hardly anything to report but a flock of Common Scoters stretched out for about half a mile, but was nothing more than few yards wide. At a conservative guestimate would be between 5 and 600, with several more smaller rafts further out to sea. Nothing moving on the horizon or through the troughs.
After work back at the park a Peregrine is sitting on the ledge two thirds up the side of the water tower upsetting the local Magpies. It was sat up there in almost the same place a few days ago so I hope it's gonna hang around all winter, plenty of Pigeons and Woodies for it to chomp.
A weird picture today - my favourite, but most badly parked, Land Rover in town. musta been goig a helluva lick to get up there, look at the driver doin' a runner up the rope. Bet the parking vultures give him a ticket!

A wildlifey picture tomorrow if your lucky.
Where to next? More from the local area probably, might be the chance of a trip further afield on Friday.
In the meantime let us know who can't park in your outback.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Can't stand the excitement!

The safari had a real nightmare today...why? Well today was World Without Your Car Day so ethically I had to travel to work in alternative way ie bus or bike. Bike was out due to 30mph head on winds - would never have made it up and over the hill in the first 300 yards! So bus it was...normally the car journey takes 15 - 20 minutes and I can get the scope out for 10 minutes or more before I have to start work and have a good blimp over the sea wall. Not today!...You really don't want to know how long a sustainable bus ride takes, suffice to say I set off at the same time as normal and arrived at work late so missing any chance of a look at the sea.
Did get a short look at lunchtime and got my first Red Throated Diver of the season. Not alot else other than an indeterminate amount of Common Scoters sitting in the heavy swell. No sign of my Velvet Scoter is out there Tufted Puffins either...that too is out there somewhere...
EDIT - JD on the south side had two Leach's Petrels at about the same time I was out (and a Bonxie ...AAARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH - it had better be still windy tomorrow.
Where to next? Too much desk work to predict any future safaris this week - hopefully the sea will produce the goods.
In the meantime let us know how difficult it is to get around your outback without the aid of the right species of wheels.
Sorry no pics AGAIN today

Sunday 20 September 2009

Didn't happen

The safari can't believe it! As reported earlier I was out in the garden having a brew earlier this morning and just two Meadow Pipits went over in about an hour and a half. But reading other blogs especially Fleetwwood Birder and Heysham Bird Obs there was rakes of stuff moving but it didn't move over me, JD on the south side a few miles down the other way didn't have so much either - so where did it all go? An Osprey was moving through the area along the coast mid morning, missed that too, would have been a good patch/garden tick.
This arvo's special safari was always going to be a very long shot. The Toads below are our quarry's food.

As are Frogs.And Smooth Newts.You guessed what we were looking for yet? Grass Snakes! Did we find any - you guessed right - a resounding 'no'. There have been no recent authenticated records locally. But at this site a young girl spotted what was 99.9999% deffo one earlier in the year. So it has been a quest to prove it all summer however the weather has been against us all the way. A sloughed skin or hatched eggs would have done us but we didn't see any of these either.
In the course of turning over every rock, log, sheet of plastic etc etc we came across several small mammal nests, some had been raided with the bedding being out from the under the cover. One of the nests had these two headless babies - what was the culprit here? Weasel? Gruesome what ever has done it.Sparrowhawk drifted south, resident or local?
The field we were investigating has a diverse range of wildflowers - it is one of the best areas in town but earmarked for development. A single specimen of Common Centaury was trying to avoid the heavy horse grazing pressure. That's heavy grazing from heavy horses. Few butterflies were about, a Large White, a Red Admiral and this flighty but fresh looking Small Copper was pick of the bunch.

Whilst investigating the dykes that run along the edge of the site a call went out - 'dragonfly'! Looking up a large dragon whizzed past along the length of the dyke. It didn't half look like a Golden Ringed Dragonfly, well it was big with black and yellow strips and I didn't get any blue on it. We charged after it as that would be a real local rarity but we weren't able to relocate it...what a shame that would have been a big bonus find.
We used to call these berries Deadly Nightshade as kids but now know them as Bittersweet from the same family, of course.
To finish with a plummeting Goldfinch from earlier this morning. Pity its not a better quality pic.

Where to next? Well I didn't get a chance to go twitching and most of them have done a runner now anyway but the Green Woodpecker (least exciting of the bunch by a mile - typical) might still be about.
In the meantime let us know what's slithering around in your outback.

It's all happening

Bit of a mish-mash today I'm afraid. AND within a stone's throw of the Safaris front door there are some real quality bird. Green Woodpecker, Great White Egret, Yellow Browed Warbler and a Long Billed Dowitcher with a Nightjar a bit further afield - what is it doing on the Bearded Tit's grit tray??? -so a UK bred not too distant but really rare round here, a couple of southern Europeans, a Sibe and a Yank all within 10 miles of each other if that - we must be at the crossroads of the planet!
Last night was National Moth Night and in true NMN form it peed it down just before dark to dampen everyone's spirits! But the rain stopped and we headed on out to the nature reserve. As it happened there were more moth'ers than moths. So we took to trying to find the full set of Banded Snails ie pink, brown and yellow forms with 0,1,3 and 5 stripes of both the White Lipped and the Black Lipped species. Didn't do too bad on the Blacks but the Whites are harder to come by on the reserve.
The moths were very disappointing for a mild, muggy dark night but strangely they did a Noah's Ark for us and came in in pairs. We had 2 Snouts, 2 Silver Ys and 2 what I'm pretty sure were old worn and tatty July Highfliers, a couple of as yet unidentified Plume Moths and a single specimen of the ubiquitous Light Brown Apple Moth. Chuck in a sackful of Daddy Long Legs and a few Caddis Flies and that was about it, not all that spectacular.
The bat detectors were quiet too for a long time. Then we started to get hits and a walk to the bushes at the water's edge eventually gave us three Pipistrelles flying around together. I tried the wobbly bit of grass head held high trick to no avail. Toads were a bit easier to find especially as two had climbed up the straining struts on a nearby fence post - why? By the time my camera was sorted the larger had jumped off. Our intrepid Junior Ranger disappeared in to the darkness and came back with a small Frog, but with still no sign of any more moths we called it a night.
Dawn this morning was a glorious affair as Frank had his morning constitutional.. But I missed the best bit by five minutes. The bizarre huge white building at the end of the road is 'affectionately' known as Mount Fuji!The hills of the Forest of Bowland can just be made out above the roof tops. But we couldn't see the Lake District fells to the north for the haze. My brother is there today running the Langdale Marathon, allegedly the hardest road marathon in the world.
The park had only a few Robins this morning compared to the other day but a good number of Wrens which I was unable to count by being distracted by other dog walkers (got to 7 but there were probably at least half that again). A Mistle Thrush half-heartedly gave a snatch of song, the first record since the late spring after the breeding pair moved on. At least 15 Long Tailed Tits zipped from bush to bush but too awkward to hold a dog, a bag of doggy do-do and a camera all at the same time particularly with a bitch in season in the area over exciting Frank. He may have lost his nads but he sure still knows what to do!
A lone Black Headed Gull dropped in to see if the overnight druggies and associated chavs had dropped anything worth eating.Sun came up good and bright so I sat in the garden and had a brew while the early morning feeding run started. A couple of Goldfinchs and a Blue Tit was all I could muster. A Painted Lady nipped through before eight o'clock - must be quite warm for late September if they are out and about that early on a Sunday morning.

Not the world's best pics I admit.

Where to next? Later this arvo is mission impossible - 0.00000000001% chance of success. Then I'm off twitching!

In the meantime let us know what's about at dawn in your outback.

Friday 18 September 2009

Robins, robins, robins

The safari got to 'Patch 1' - aka the park - just before sun-up this morning and the only noticeable wildlife was the ticking and warbling of Robins...lots of Robins. It seemed as if almost every clump of bushes had one hiding in its darkest recesses. There was a minimum of NINETEEN in total. Despite a bit of hunt round for anything else nothing popped up as being out of the ordinary. But are there nineteen Robins normally or was that a bit of a fall...I was a little earlier than of late. What will the count be tomorrow morning or will it be the turn of Blackbirds...or something else?
Back home for brew and brekky the kitchen window Garden Cross Spider was sat in the middle of her web and with enough daylight by now I was able to get shots from both outside and inside i.e her upper and undersides.

A fearsome beasty which wifey hopes will stay on that side of the window and not venture indoors!
Earlier in the week Blackpool played host to the end of one of the stages of the Round Britain cycle race. I set the alarm on the mobile and when it went off I dashed outside with the camera hoping for a fist full of action shots. No chance! The police outriders on the motorbikes with the blue flashing lights should have stopped the lot of them and booked them all for speeding - they were doing well over the 30mph speed limit.

Consequently I only got a couple of shots away as they zipped through - the noise was like an enormous Starling roost swooping in to land on masse.

I quite like this blurry rider shot - gives some arty impression of the rider in full flight with the finish line only a few hundred yards away. Total fluke though!
Where to next? Don't forget it's National Moth Night at the weekend so there could deffo be something nocturnal in the offing. And there's more...hoping beyond hope for a warm and sunny day on Sunday'll have to wait and see...if we're successful and that's no way guaranteed - rather the opposite - I'll be well happy, overjoyed cross everything including yer buttocks for us!
In the meantime let us know who, or what, has been whizzing past in your outback.
PS Just found out today that one of my 'chums' from Aus has just been given AU$895,000 (about £11.56 hahahaha) to spend on MOUSETRAPS of whatever type he chooses to rid some of the Western Australian outlying islands of feral rodents...go Keith - somewhere in my boxes of old photos I 've got a picture of him holding a very rare but very cute looking Greater Spiny Stick Nest Rat, he couldn't hold a Lesser SSNR cos sadly they are now extinct.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

One for The Abbott

Not the world's best picture of a Red Deer but that's what it is...Enjoy. Hope to better this in the next few weeks with the new(ish) camera - this was taken a while ago with the digital version of a Box Brownie.

On the patch today

The safari was out at first light this morning and bagged a Peregrine Falcon followed by a singing Chiffchaff - which was nice! Still waiting for the biggy or a fall of Blackbirds etc.
Patch two before work provided a Grey Seal and not a lot else...somewhere out there is a Velvet Scoter with my name on it but only distant Commons today and a couple of scurrying Auks.
There is a Garden Cross Spider with a huge web across the side kitchen window just itching to be blogged but he is all curled up in a tight ball at the moment - as soon as he sits in the middle of the web I'll dash out with camera and snap him - he's probably a she!
Where to next? Long, long day at work tomorrow so may have to wait 'til the weekend - which just happens to be National Moth Night. And maybe a surprise on Sunday.
In the meantime let us know what's lurking outside your outback kitchen window.
Soz - no photos today. Didn't post any on yesterdays rant 'cos I didn't want to patronise all you wildlife experts with pics of the plainly obvious what they are Bluebells, Oak Trees and Red Deer etc.....

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Wifey made me re-do my rant!

The trouble with surveys is you might not like the results. I found such a survey in this month’s edition of British Wildlife magazine. A quality read which I recommend anyone who has an interest in our wildlife to subscribe to.
The survey was undertaken by a leading chain of h/motels and 3000 adults were asked what they knew about our marvellous British countryside.
Now 3000 is not a big sample but is probably reasonably representative of travelling reps and families.
So what did the survey say you are asking yourself well here goes be prepared to be shocked and aghast at the result:
Frighteningly over half thought our countryside was boring with nothing to see (the ignorant fools to admit that I ask you!). I almost blame the great Sir David Attenborough – you can see swarming hordes of Wildebeests stampeding across the Serengeti or rivers full of Hippos and Crocodiles at the touch of a remote control button.
Obviously the thousands of us the wildlife Bloggers are wasting our time or seeing things that are not really there!!!!!
An astonishing 83% could not identify a Bluebell - THE iconic flower of our woodland - how can it be iconic if 83% don’t know what it is I ask you?
27% thought a Hare was a Deer – what on earth do they think Deer are? Elephants!!! Giraffes!!! The mind boggles.
12% identified a Red Deer stag as a Reindeer – an easy mistaka-to-maka - hmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Somewhat worryingly 10% could not identify a Sheep & 44% could not identify an Oak Tree. How???? It’s plastered over pub signs the length and breath of the country. The tree that helped us keep our monarchy and the Spanish and Napoleon at bay should be shown a little more respect than that.
Then 71% didn’t know what a Pine Tree was. No, surely that can not be right!
There were a couple of other trickier questions which only a tiny proportion got right and all this goes to show how far removed the urban population of this county is.
The safari'll take em out and get them cold and muddy and show them some superb wildlife - for a price of course, gotta make a livin' yer know.
Later dudes...

"Our survey said..."

I pressed something and lost the lot so you'll never know
Took me ages too!- -BUGGER
Where to next? No idea and I'm peed off now!
Did get a Guillemot early doors and a Med Gull at lunch time off the prom, but even the Med is no compensation for losing an hours blog rant at the touch of a button!
In the meantime let us know whose been surveying what in your outback.
I'm off to find my Kalashnikov to go and reduce the UK population of thickos by about 30/40,000,000 - bye for now - - might not be back mentioning the 'k' weapon on the interweb will probably bring MI5 knocking at the door in the small hours.

Monday 14 September 2009


The safari just got back from sunny climes to discover – shock horror – that our FB ranking has crashed almost 100 places. In true Bridgit Jones style – “note to self – must get blogging again!” Not that the safari is that competitive – honest…but a 3 at the front would be better than a 4 and definitely better than a 5!
So what was out there in the sunny climes…copious amounts of sunshine, cloudless (almost) skies (any one else remember Puff the Magic Dragon?), hot heat, a bit of dust and plenty of warm sea…oh the Mediterranean is a joy to behold.
Arriving in the dark you just don’t really know what’s out there. But a hint at things to come after rinsing out the day’s travel clothes.
“Where do I hang out the washing?” Wifey’s answer “Just past the Scorpion and turn left”…”What - past the what???” “Oh that Scorpion!” Big claws (relatively)/small sting = fairly harmless??? or is it the more potent European Black Scorpion? And she said that without the usual 'it's a bug hullaballoo!'The darkness was a revelation – a total cacophony of bizarre sounds. Some numpty had put bells round the necks of a flock of sheep. The irregular clonking sounded like the sound track to some strange eastern opera.Above the din half the known universe’s Stone Curlews wailed away, a Little Owl mewed and shrieked outside the bedroom window and a Fox yelped almost all night – it was actually quieter at home with drunks caterwauling at each other, police sirens, and cars with boom-blasters whizzing past the house most nights.
Morning broke to an azure sky – full of Kestrels, 10 in the air together was the best count. Buzzards and Hooded Crows sat on posts and wires all over the place. A scuttle below the balcony revealed a lizard of some description.
Never mind all that the beach beckons but it is so windy no chance of getting in the water, so we try somewhere more sheltered.
Nice. No not the place in France although it wasn’t that far away as the Blue FinTuna swims – if they do in the Med anymore?
Really do need to get a field guide to the fish of the Med – see loads when snorkelling, some are even colourful – but haven’t got a clue what they are.
Back at the ranch a Golden Eagle quarters fields adjacent to the garden as we drive up to the house, deffo don’t get that at home! Then four – yes FOUR – Marsh Harriers drifted past.
Still can’t photograph the scuttlers…proving to be nigh-on impossible, like the very wary Buzzards, Hooded Crows and the plain just-too-mobile Sardinian Warblers zipping in and out of the dense scrub.Picked out a ‘patch’ to walk which had the added benefit of the half way point being at the cliff top to check if the beach was OK for swimming. Got plenty of Stonechats and Cirl Buntings, OK, OK I know I said buntingS

They are one of only two regular UK breeding species I’ve not got on my UK tick list – the buntings not the chats, silly! – probably cos I’ve never been to south Devon to see ‘em.
The wind died down and the beach became a second home…sunbathe or swim, swim or sunbathe - the decisions are endless.
Yellow Legged Gulls regularly loafed about on the rocks but couldn’t get to grips with any Audouin’s, nor could I turn any of the multitude of Kestrels into an Eleanora’s Falcon.
A Blue Rock Thrush warbled away half-heartedly in the heat from the crags above the beach.
At one point a Swallowtail butterfly landed on my leg, as did a Red Veined Darter; now that’s never gonna happen too often back in Blighty. Meadow Browns were numerous and a Clouded Yellow in the garden is always a joy.A few sightings of blues were eventually revealed as Long Tailed Blues.
Insects were on the whole pretty good. But again the heat makes em pretty active. There were loads, I mean hundreds, of this lime green coloured Darter and several others including this dark Hawker. Anyone got any ideas? I’ve not got a copy of the European dragons guide. But not a Hobby in sight which I thought was a bit strange with all this Odonata on the wing. Whilst photographing the hawker something crashed into the top of my head. Looking round with a start I saw this bright green apparition tumble into the bush next to me. Nice one – a Speckled Bush Cricket.
Red and black Capsid Bugs were everywhere and a favourite prey of ants. The scuttlers however, seemed to ignore them. The warning colours must mean more to lizards than ants! I think the species is Lygaeus equestris - they are common throughout the warmer parts of Europe, although there are a couple of confusion species but this one seems to have the white dots in the right places.
The Scorpion was out later that evening, this time with prey.
The thing with the med at migration time is you just don’t know what you’re gonna get next. A Whinchat appeared amongst the Stonechats and a flight of Sand Martins was mixed in with the Swallows one morning, but it took almost the whole week to bag a Crag Martin despite the habitat looking absolutely ideal for them. A Peregrine appeared for a couple of days and a guy walking his dogs – is there NO escape – flushed what I thought to be a tad unusual for a dusty dry cliff top…a flock of eleven Golden Plovers.
The fields at the top of the cliffs gave Woodlarks plenty of foraging and singing opportunities but it wasn’t until the last day when a pair where in the garden that I managed anything like a half decent shot. Great camouflage when you see like this.
The walk to the cliffs and back gave me Western Whip Snake, a sizeable specimen and A.N.other much smaller snake, along with a Gecko, either Moorish or Turkish Gecko – far too quick into its hidey-hole in the wall to get much on it.
Also on the last day I managed to eventually get some shots of the scuttlers. I think I’d missed during the week by being out when they had been most active and least wary.
Mammals were thin on the ground, except dead Hedgehogs on the road and no bats despite large numbers of moths (mainly micros) and Ant-lions coming to the driveway lights! But a glimpse of something dashing across the road in front of the car looked suspiciously like a Genet which from the info I can glean off the interweb I dodn’t think are supposed to be present on this island.
For those of you who might wish to know where we went the lizard and the Meadow Brown are endemic forms…over to you budding Sherlocks! Brilliant place, and not too expensive provided you don’t go to a hotel and you don’t eat out! Deffo going back to check out the east coast which could be even better. Lovely sunset made even better by the fact that the car in the bottom right is a Disco just like who's an anorak twitching Land Rovers.
Full (haha – didn’t even look at the plants, but most dried up by this time of year anyway) species list:- Birds - - -
Stone Curlew
Hooded crow
Sardinian Warbler
Golden Eagle
Little Egret
Spanish Sparrow
Feral Pigeon
Yellow Legged Gull
Coot - yes - nice one!
Collared Dove
Marsh Harrier
Blue Rock Thrush
Cirl Bunting
Spotted Flycatcher
Golden Plover
Little Owl
Cetti's Warbler
Sand Martin
Spotless Starling
Peregrine Falcon
Crag Martin
Great Tit - looking bizarrely lost and out of place flitting through the maquis
Spectacled warbler/Whitethroat
Grey Heron - which wifey got but I dipped...and she was driving; shouldn't she have been watching the road?
Barn Owl - dead on road - horribly unlucky seeing as how rush hour lasted about 10 minutes
Sparrowhawk - right at the death as we loaded the car to head back to the airport
Butterflies - - -
Large White
Meadow Brown
UnId white sp.
Red Admiral
Clouded Yellow
Long Tailed Blue
Painted Lady
Not bad considering we did no real birding and tried to avoid taking the bins to the beach for fear of getting them scratched (or more likely being accused of perving the well tanned totty)
Where to next? Back tomorrow with some interesting survey results - - - - frightening!!!!!
In the meantime let us know what's been the highlights of your holiday outback adventures.