Saturday, 31 October 2009

Cetti - Cetti - Cetti

Stop press - Bittern on site this evening, obviously we left far too soon.
The safari set out again on the mission to achieve project impossible! And impossible it proved to be. But all was not lost - a great morning out in the field was had. This morning was the last session of a coordinated vis mig watch that has been running this autum but nothing much was going over, just a few Skylarks, some Reed Buntings bounced in and bounced out again, a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Grey Wagtail going the 'wrong' way. In the bushes around the site there were a few Blackbirds but not as many as perhaps we expected and we could only find a single Fieldfare and a handful of Redwings. This Woodpigeon was asleep at the top of an Elder bush, until it heard the camera's autofocus beep a few more times and it woke up. Tired migrant or just having a lazy Saturday morning in the warm sunshine?Make the most of it crap weather returneth tomorrow in the form of wild wind and torrential rain - that'll make a refreshing change!
Robins, on the other hand, were particularly noticeable, we had over thirty before we had gone more than a hundred yards through the scrub. One was extremely confiding.

Didn't notice it at the time but it appears to have a few primaries out of place on its right wing.
We mosied on up to the viewing platform, not a great lot of excitement out on the water, all the usual suspects but with the light in our faces there was little point grilling the gulls from here. Two Little Grebes were pick of the bunch. It's quite a while since we've seen these at this site, should visit more often! But did get a first ever photo of one.
The Cetti's Warbler fired up a quick mega-blast of song...YES that'll do nicely. We decided to hang around to see if it was going to do it again or maybe pick up a flucky Bittern flying over the reedbed. After a few minutes CR turned up. (Good to meet you at last after admiring your photos for some time).
What CR told me was awesome - he and PE had been listening to TWO Cetti's Warblers only a few minutes earlier in the opposite corner of the reserve! So that makes THREE on site, all males - - are there any females??? The habbo here is ideal for them to breed if only the winterers would stick.
We trotted back the way we came and heard one of those two fire up half way along the embankment. Listening for the other by the bridge was unsuccessful; so gulls it was. A good sized flock was on the water but sadly nothing exciting was hiding in their midst. But while we were checking them out the third Cetti's broke in to song. better still it flitted across the gap in the reeds in front of the hide. We SAW it!!! Three heard one seen = an excellent day.
Worra lorra geese, as Cilla would say. Best part of 3000 I guess settled in the fields behind the barn to the east, wonder if they were all Pink Feet or was there a Greenland White Front lurking in a with them.
A Migrant Hawker was still buzzing about and a Red Admiral was seen at Base Camp.
Where to next? Somewhere dry I hope looking at the forecast.
In the meantime let us know what's turned up in unprecedented numbers in your outback.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Peering in to the murk – if the ‘puter is working

The safari had tinterweb issues last night somehow our provider had managed to cut us off – yes we had paid the bill! – hence no post; but hey who said it had to be a daily job – not a slave to those three Fatbirder digits!!! – honest.
We were out on Patch 2 before work but it was hard work today. Visibility was very poor - no evidence of a horizon to speak of just grey merging in to grey in the middle distance. A stiff off shore breeze brought a little passage of Gannets close in shore, four adults and a bird of the year. Whilst scoping them we caught sight of a Red Throated Diver on the sea. Very few Common Scoters were visible and there was precious little else. An even shorter visit at lunch time produced even less though 10 Sanderlings on the tide line was the highest count of the season here and four Redshanks ganged up on bits of seaweed flicking them over to see if anything was lurking beneath – there wasn’t, they had to make do with probing deeper for hidden prey. Unlike Monika’s beach we have no Sandhoppers on our stretch, plenty on the beach south of the river where they are the favourite food of the endangered Natterjack Toads. Three Lesser Black backed Gulls headed purposefully south through the troughs a fair distance out although some of there compatriots were sat with the Herring Gulls on the beach. A good grilling of the gulls sadly didn’t reveal any Ring Billed Gulls, two different individuals have been seen not far to the north this month – always a good find for the finder, adults are bonny; second winters can be a worthwhile challenge.
No visit to Patch 1 this morning and no chance of getting there in daylight for the evening session either…might be nice to bump into a Woodcock one of these nights they are beginning to trickle in, crackin photo of one on Bardsey Island recently, which is just outside our ‘area’. Last night a skein of Pink Footed Geese went over their gaggling calls audible above the last of the rush hour traffic and we could just see their pale breasts in the glow of the street lights. A few Redwings and Blackbirds were heard on the move too.
For those of you not familiar with Redwings and Fieldfares have a look at these lovely pics of them in the hand from PS on the north side of the river. Little beauties, the pair of them.
No photos from the safari again today – not worth wasting pixels on just plain grey or pitch black!
Where to next? Weather looks promising to have another bash at last weekend’s failed project.
In the meantime let us know how grey it is in your outback; surely it can’t be as grey as here – can it?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Not much happening

Very little news today from the safari.
Patch 1 was visited in daylight - whoopeee! Lots of Redwings leaving their overnight roost in the trees and a fligh over of about 30 whacka-chacka, aka Fieldfares, finished off with a low flying Sparrowhawk as we returned to Base Camp with the sound of Long Tailed Tits getting their breakfasts in our neighbour's garden.
A quick look over the sea wall at lunch time revealed precious little; hardly a Common Scoter to be seen apart from a male riding the waves just behind the surf. A Guillemot kept him company a dozen or so yards futher out. Those two, my friends, were the highlights of the day - must get better than this, where are all the Red Throated Divers?
But what about the wonderful duck on a stick? It has been identified as a probable Mallard x Red Crested Pochard hybrid. Have a look at for the 27th. Funky goings-on in per usual!

No pics today, sorry.
Where to next? Hopefully somewhere exciting if we can sneak away from the 'puter.
In the meantime let us know whose been upto inter-specific hanky-panky in your outback.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A post with a duck

The safari literally gives you a post with a duck!
Go on then what type of duck is it cos I ain't sure...the photy's were taken by one of the Rangers on his phone and I couldn't get out for a proper look so this is all there is.
Early thoughts were female/juv Red Crested Pochard but surely that speculum is totally wrong. Ever heard of a diving duck standing on a post...roosting on a floating island or a jetty yes but stood on a post?
Sorry those two are so similar.
The blurry bill doesn't appear to have a pinky tip so a juv is more likely, length looks OK.
So all you out there in blogger land away from Europe...what have we got here, an escape from a collection perhaps but from where originally? Or is it a hybrid off some sort. Does it look like anything in your outback.
All suggestions gratefully received
Thanks in advance.
A 'big' count of 9 Sanderlings on the beach was one of today's Patch 2 highlight, eclipsed by the strange sight of a Magpie bouncing southwards along the top of the sea-wall, not something you see every day. Didn't get out on the sands today. We were on Patch 1 when it was light, just and got a couple of Redwings blasting out of their roost. Tried to count some of the other stuff but Frank was misbehaving and time was a bit short. So counts were sort of some of those and a few of these and one or two of them. No vis giong on overhead though.
Where to next? Probably won't get out tomorrow either but you never know there is always hope.
In the meantime let us know what's baffling you in your outback.
Oh and before I go a couple of poor shots from Magpie Wood.
From there they get a birds -eye view (no pun intended...believe that you'll believe anything) of a cracking sunset most nights (believe that and you WILL believe anything).

Monday, 26 October 2009

Back on the beach

The safari was out on the beach leading an enthusiastic troup of youngsters. Armed with their nets they hit the rockpools with gusto. Hauling out all manner of goodies. After the raid on the pools they scoured the beach for trophies that the weekends wild weather had washed up. They came up with all of the following.
A live Striped Venus shell.

A rather large and prickly Sea Mouse, maybe they should be called Sea Hedgehogs.
A wonderful arrangement of encrusting worms on this old Scallop shell.

A much smaller Variegated Scallop - I think. Beautiful patterning.
Must get a waterproof camera as this Beadlet Anenome was fully out in one of the top pools at the top of the tide but the camera struggles to get through the surface shine to the animal below.
These are two different species of starfish. I didn't realise this at first but on looking at the photo saw that they were obviously different shapes. So I had to get the ID of the right hand one confirmed as different from the other.
The left hand one is the Common Sand Star, the one we see regularly, the other is the Stiff Star, which apparently normally appears on our beach around September so are a little late this season.
This whopper is an Iceland Cyprina a very long lived animal.
Finally a picture of my welly as a scale for the collection.
A great haul and great fun!
Where to next? Difficult one now that its dark outside of working not at all sure if we get out safari-ing before the weekend when we still have our 'project' to complete.
In the meantime let us know how many molluscs are hiding away in your outback.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Project disaster

The safari's project for this weekend has been totally scuppered by the wild, wet, windy weather. Bullocks to it. We were supposed to be sneaking around on all fours in the undergrowth with the long lens for your delectation, but no chance; what we were looking for had decided that there wasn't enough shelter at its usual hidey-hole and had dug itself a burrow or summat - anyway whatever it was wasn't where it was supposed to be so macros ahoy here are some autumn fungi shots instead. No idea what they are - a yellow one!

And a purple slimy one.

Cor - Look at the slime on that! Impressive slimation of the grass as it's grown up through the surrounding leaves.
Late edit - they are both the same species - the yellow ones are older - Verdigris Agaric.
Back at Base Camp (thoroughly depressed at not hitting the target species we even considered a trip to the north east...) without my glasses I came across this excellent little Slime Mould. Which as if by magic turned into a soggy, collapsed Dandelion 'clock' when said spekatucles were brought into play. A flock of 9 Goldfinches came to the feeders mid afternoon, a fair number for us - are Goldfinches the new House Sparrows?
You should be able to make out three of the nine on the feeder - soz about the quality taken through a dirty kitchen window on a dull day with a long lens - crap really but there you go, beggers can't be choosers.
Who said I need to wear them more often?
Top bird of the day was going to be a nice male Great Spotted Woodpecker until it was totally eclipsed and usurped by an Eastern Crowned Coal Tit! - yes it was that good today. Neither gave anything near a photo opportunity in the wet gloom. Did get an Eastern Crowned Blue Tit caught red winged in the act of escaping from peanut prison, or Aflatoxinatraz (No offence meant guys know these are good quality nuts!)

To cap it all on the way back to Land Rover Frank did a runner after some smelly scent or other and vanished in the undergrowth for ten minutes or more wasting valuable brewing up time - naughty dog!

Where to next? The hour has dropped back to GMT, summer is officially over, so evenings are a no-go for few months now, but we are out on the beach again tomorrow at work so there may be something for you - no more Green Shore Crabs...promise!
In the meantime let us know what's done its damnedest to avoid being photographed in your outback.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Frankie to the rescue

The safari was on the return journey from Patch1 just as it was coming light and Frankie's nose spotted something on the edge of the road.
He dragged us over and we found a Hedgehog, not this one - this is an archived individual. Far too dark to warrant taking the camera out with us on the morning rounds...maybe we should invest in one of those fancy night vision cameras.

If you look carefully around the eye in the pic above you can see three ticks - yuk - but Hedgies can't scratch too well, all those prickles make personal hygene nigh on impossible.
Anyway we lifted our little friend off the road and put him in some nearby bushes out of harm's way. Two have been murdered by evil drivers on these few yards of road this summer.
Where to next? Bad weather forecast for tomorrow so our secret mission will have to wait until Sunday.
In the meantime let us know who's wearing the prickles in your outback.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A fraction better than yesterday

The safari was on Patch 1 in the moonless pre-dawn darkness. Apart from a few Robins twittering by the light from the streetlamps on the way up the hill all was deathly quiet. Even Magpie Wood was quiet, the Magpies, up to 50 of them are roosting elsewhere at the moment.
The tide was well out at Patch 2 at breakfast time and there was nothing on the water worth reporting. A flock of 21 Redshanks feeding together in a runnel on the beach was almost exciting and they were joined by another after a few minutes. Nothing of note was seen amongst the gulls. Later, at lunch time the tide had risen and a few birds had come inshore. In between the scattered, small flocks of Common Scoters we picked up a Razorbill and distant to us, further down the prom, but close inshore a Red Throated Diver gave itself a good preen. Total lack of marine mammals today.
Have a gander at yours truly doing his thing on the beach – looks like something to do with the craze that is the longest Pod Razor competition to me.
Where to next? Bramblings are still being reported so it would be nice to connect with one as they are not something that sticks around too often in our outback.
In the meantime let us know what’s sticky in your outback.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

No news is bad news

The safari has no mews at all today. Did go looking for Great Crested Newts just in case a certain BBC Friday evening show needed some footage, but to no avail - all are hibernating by now probably. So that's it...byeeee.

Where to next? Little project for the weekend is a little weather dependent.
In the meantime is there anything happening in your outback...certainly is in Warren's...well done Warren another record falls.

No pics of nuthin today and no scientific/political rant either.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The cryptic Lymnocryptes

The safari had the briefest, optic less safari this morning on the way back from the shops and stumbled on, that is I literally stumbled on it, another step and I would have crushed it underfoot, a little gem. A Jack Snipe or Lymnocryptes minimus, what a crackin name for a beautiful bird.
Where to next?
In the meantime let us know what secretively hidden in your outback.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Energy Saving Week

The safari is going to save energy by not doing nuffin’ this week cos we are in a disastrous-attempt-at-twitching-fully-monked-out sulk!
And why do we all have to save energy – because of that nightmare that is climate change of course.
Don’t come running to me when the heat gets hot and we come to the end of civilisation as we know it. So do your bit and cut that carbon. Save your 10% in 2010!
So go on tell me why is it that 1998 was, globally, the warmest year on record and not 2008 if we are supposed to heating up? Try the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – yep that’s right the PDO, however it works, is keeping us cool and has been for a few years now, with more to come; perhaps another 15 – 20 or more. That combined with a slight La Niña is keeping global temperatures somewhat lower than the climatologists have been predicting. But now they know they will be revamping their computer models. So what happens when La Niña switches to El Niño and the PDO enters its next warm phase? Answer – we’ll all boil in our beds!
Waddya mean you’ve never heard of the PDO? Not surprised it was only discovered, accidentally while studying pacific species of Salmon, in 1997.

The dashboard thermometer is from July 2003 when it was lovely and warm (this summer was obviously its alter-ego). 31ºC is the hottest recorded in Blackpool but on the open road on the way home that day the temperature crept up to 33ºC; and there was me thinking it was that hot because the car had been sat in the sun in the car park all day! Will we see this record beaten in the next few years? When somewhere in the UK hits 40ºC then we’ll know for sure that the climate has done some serious changing – I don’t think it will be too many years away. In the meantime there might be a couple or three dismal summers and ‘normal’ winters (ie with a bit of proper snow like last year) to endure. From my records there hasn’t been a cooler than average month in Blackpool for at least four years. Several months have been warmer than the long term average by between two and four degrees. One thing we have noticed is that although the daytime temperatures have been more or less as expected the night-time temperatures are creeping up towards and even over that +2ºC mark.
As for sea-level rise – not a good thing cos the carpet under my feet is at about the same level as today’s high tide – don’t really fancy coming to work in a wet suit and snorkel. Hopefully I’ll have retired by the time the worst of it starts happening. Base Camp is on a hill (= future island) so I will be looking forward to trading the Land Rover for a boat, our house has a steep drive which won’t need to be converted into a slipway, already got a winch anchor point at the top to drag my trailer/boat* up with.
Whatever happens its nearly time to say good-bye to the Polar Bear with no summer sea ice within 20 years and maybe less poor PB’s prognosis isn’t good. 5 years ago when we opened the Centre the prediction for the end of summer ice at the Arctic was between 50 and 100 years. That’s what I call a substantial revision of an estimate.
(*delete as appropriate)

Had to use a little energy to cross the road to have a look at Patch 2 at lunch time where a blob of distant birds shipping south at a rate of knots were revealed in the scope to be about 40 Pintail. Two Grey Seals were bottling in the near and middle distance, the near one still far too far off to be within camera range. The grapevine has exciting tales of Brambling – is it gonna be a good year for them?

Where to next? Nowhere – told you I was sulking and saving energy.
In the meantime let us know what’s making you save energy in your outback.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

St Vitus dance

The safari went out twitching in the rain this arvo. Geez it was braw for the first time this season - off with the cap and out with the woolly hat from now I think! A brief window of opportunity coincided with a rather large high tide. Off we north over the river we headed...arriving at the site I discovered I hadn't brought the map reference I wrote down before we left Base Camp...plonker. So we had to make do with a walk up and down the bank keeping a watchful eye on all waders. Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Turnstone, Redshank...nope our intended 'victim' isn't one of those. Grey Plovers are nice, don't see them too often. A Rock Pipit hopped around the tide line and a male Eider sat with two females just off shore. further out a sizable flock of Mallards roosted on the tide. The return walk saw us bag a Snipe and a couple of Curlews in the fields. Not a lot else, but embarrassingly we dipped on the Long Billed Dowitcher. Thought about heading even deeper into Birds2Blog territory but with the rain getting heavier we bottled it and legged it back home to get a roaring fire blazing in the hearth and dry Frank off. Kept him on his lead to keep him out of the sea but he got just as wet anyway. Have to hope it sticks around a few more days...need it for a Fylde tick not a lifer thankfully.
Where to next? At the rate the fire isd consuming logs a trip to the woodstore is in order.
In the meantime let us know what you've dipped out on in your outback.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

A late start produces the goods

The safari had the luxury of a lie in this morning - a real bonus cos it was after sunrise when we got to Patch 1. Patch 1 in the light!!!
Too late for the Robins although there were still some ‘ticking’ away in the undergrowth. It would have been nice to have got there a few minutes earlier and get a good count. 250+ Jackdaws going seawards were noisy. Meanwhile we hit the thrush jackpot. The first Fieldfare of the winter launched itself out of the Fox’s scrub followed by a Blackbird and a handful of Redwings. In the park proper the treetops were alive with the ‘chack-chack-chack’ of more Fieldfares and the ‘seeepp-ing’ of Redwings. In all 22 Fieldfares and over 100 Redwings were seen to set off eastwards from the roost.
The dog walkers were out in force, but it was noticeable that there were a few more Blackbirds than normal skulking around in the darker recesses away from the mad mutts.
Back at Base Camp I learned that Frank had got caught short in the small hours and had to be taken out…Wifey reported that she had heard several Redwings going over; “really ‘loud’ and obvious in the still of the night.”
A machine full of laundry needed to be hung out before going to work, despite it still being frosty. Shock – horror…well if not horror then at least a little more than slight amazement – A Painted Lady flew over the garage roof and off eastwards at gutter height down the ginnel between us an next door!!!??? I say amazement cos the thermometer on the garage wall showed 3.5ºC and the sun hadn’t yet broken through the thin cloud. It was odds on the damp washing would freeze a bit before it started to dry! Definitely one for the Autumnwatch team as requested on the show last night.

A chilly few minutes on Patch 2 before the mayhem that is a Family Fun Day began was dismal. All the scoters, what few there were, were a long way off in the shimmer – heat haze this morning? Only thing of any note was a Grey Seal lurking furtively in the shallows of the rising tide, just his eyes and nose showing; then he dived into the Goldeneye/dodgy Grebe’s black hole and wasn’t seen again.

The fun filled families hit the rockpools and we had a ball! All the usual suspects were duly netted and potted. Apart from a Beadlet Anenome which we decided to leave stuck in its rocky lair.

Anti-clockwise from the top left:- 2 Sand Gobies, Brown Shrimp and Sand Goby, Purple Laver with Sand Mason Worm tube below, Green Shore Crab, Golden Sand Star, Common Prawn (note position of eyes - on stalks - compared to the shrimp - forward facing), Edible Mussel, Banded Wedge Shell.

A close up of the crab and starfish with a bit of the beautifully named Gutweed intertwined. Below is a lump of seaweed that was brought to me for inspection right at the death. Not seen it before but I think - and correct me if I'm wrong - it is Sea Oak.

Managed to snap a roosting Turnstone at full range of the lens but shortly after missed out on two still roosting on the rocks even though the tide was well out and they were much nearer. Typical, but my excuse is I didn't see them until they flushed cos their camouflage is too good in amongst the seaweed, unlike the one I did get which was sat above the high water mark on a clean bit of the wall.

All followed by a salacious bit of gratuitous Herring Gull porn.

Where to next? Not sure if we'll get a safari tomorrow, wood chopping and attic clearing might be order of the day.

In the meantime let us know what's sneaking around in the depths of the pools in your outback.

Stop hot in from wifey, who is off out gallivanting tonight...Barn Owl nearly flew into her car by the old windmill at Staining, a little village not too far east of here.

PS..just had a look on the Hilbre Bird Obs blog (see blog list on right) and noted the Slavering Grebe on there. My 'grebe' the other day was longer necked and darker about the face than this individual is showing...hmmm.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Seen more life in a tramps vest.

A bit of quiet day for the safari today.
Patch 1 – far too dark only 3 Redwings heard and brief view of the Fox as it retired for the day. Great views down to about 20 feet last night and Frank behaved himself!

Patch 2 – almost uncontainable excitement during the 10 minute morning session as a male Eider flew south and 12 others were sat on the water. Common Scoter numbers weren’t anything to write home about. The lunchtime session produced even less; no Eiders and the scoters had all moved way off shore – absolutely thrilling! Although the sun was shining and from the comfort of the desk it looked like a nice day outside the chilly northerly breeze had the safari scuttling back indoors after less than 10 minutes – what a wuss.
Had a very brief spin round the garden at work before going home and managed to collar a nice male House Sparrow - never have much luck photographing this once common and ubiquitous bird but now sadly getting increasingly scarce - I blame the modern gardening craze of fences and decking rather than good thick Privet hedges and flower beds.

It doesn't help when our 'gardeners' remove most of the cover and food either, can't believe they did that and they strimmed down the wildflower demonstration habitat zone because it 'looked untidy'!!!
A Blackbird lurked in what is left of the Tamarisk bushes - they trimmed all the flowers of these - bizarre behaviour for 'gardeners'.
With nothing photographed today you can also have a bit of gratuitous Med Gull porn from the archives for your delectation.

Where to next? Wet, wet, wet, tomorrow - nets and pots at the ready.

In the meantime let us know whose not doing the gardening in your outback.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Still got it!

The safari was in a quandary! Out on Patch 1 last night there were many fewer Redwings going over than the previous but later on during a walk along the promenade to see the Illuminations there seemed to be more than earlier and a small number of Blackbirds in the mix too. But it was very mild and likely to be misty in the morning. A morning which offered the opportunity of a twitch to see the local Long Billed Dowagers. Due to a late evening meeting today we had the morning to zoot off somewhere before hitting the desk at lunchtime – after a Patch 2 shuffy of course. Should we go or not. Out with Frank on a disappointing Patch 1 it was indeed quite misty early doors. It would be at least an hour’s drive through the stop-start commuter traffic to the Dowitchers (how many are there exactly: 2 here, 2 there, 2 somewhere else – just 2 very mobile, or more than 2? Someone enlighten me please). No, the safari couldn’t be bothered to get this tick. Always tempting to start twitching again…but then we think of all those thousands of miles travelled in the past and the price of fuel, even (comparatively) cheap biodiesel, and the mpg of the Land Rover…taps calculator…HOW MUCH???!!! No chance…stay local!
Only one thing for it, the Mere. The mist might have grounded a few migrants and there is always the chance of a bit of vis; we once had over 3000 Meadow Pipits on a misty morning, plus other good stuff including a Merlin if memory serves me correctly. So of the safari set off to blaze a two mile trail through the rush hour traffic with thoughts of Dusky-stroke-Radde’s in mind…dream on! As an aside I dipped a Dusky Warbler at Flamborough years ago because I wouldn’t let myself cross a fence with the other twitchers. It was buzzing around at the famed South Landing but being a warden at one site and telling people off daily for jumping the fences I couldn’t really do it myself could I…or should I?
Never mind we might find one this morning. Arriving on site the mist had cleared somewhat and visibility wasn’t too bad, but there was a notable absence of calls from overhead migrants. We settled down on the bench close to where the Cetti’s Warbler had recently been reported from and started ‘chitting’. Passers-by gave us a wide berth obviously thinking we weren’t quite right in the head. Nothing stirred, so after a few minutes we moved on. The reedbeds are looking good and all that work earlier in the year has got to be bob-on for a Bittern or two,

and a sack full of Bearded Tits please. If JW says they are about to erupt who are we mere mortals to contradict him. Anyone watching Autumnwatch last week will have heard Bearded Tits referred to as Moustached Babblers…will someone please grass up the researcher who has been to one of my lectures and stolen my phrase wot I have been using for years. It’s the last slide of my spiel. Slides…you remember them…don’t you?
No Bitterns just this Heron sat atop a Hawthorn bush - why?

Enough of the waffle…Water Rails were vocal at various locations, with at least six being heard squealing from the depths of the reeds. Moving round into the scrub you can see why its still hard to spot the Long Eared Owls, too much bloody Bindweed…obviously far too few Ghost Plume Moths by about a zillion.Didn’t bother to bother the owls we’ll leave them until after the leaves drop and seeing them will be so much easier.
In front of the Container Hide a movement caught the eye and a few short ‘ticks’ were heard. A bit of ‘pishing’ and ‘chitting’ brought a Wren out into the open and into range of the lens. A bit more pishing and chitting had him disappear back into the reeds again. Still no sign of the Cetti’s…or any Dusky/Radde’s for that matter.
There were fewer thrushes than expected. A small number of grounded Redwings, very flighty and easily disturbed and even fewer Blackbirds which are normally numerous on the reserve. There’s that many windfall apples the place stinks like a cider factory. Robins, however, ticked out of every bush. We would have liked to have got on to a few to check em out for greyness, ie foreigners but to no avail they were all staying deep in cover bar the ‘normal’ on at the Feeding Station.
A short diversion off piste to look for (= flush = naughty in light of comments above) Woodcock was fruitless, or at least there were no Woodcock to be seen; plenty of illegal fruit pickers trails through the scrub where they have been in stealing all the reserve’s winter food supply…swines that they are – GO TO THE SUPERMARKET you thieving numpties! We did trip over a clump of Greater Birds Foot Trefoil in flower showing its ‘Eggs and Bacon’ country name off to a tee. Been on site over an hour by now an still no vis going on! Had a blimp in the Feeding Station but nothing over exciting. Got an hour left before having to go to work so a thorough check off the gulls was in order, after all there was a Mediterranean Gull that we missed last time we were here.
First vantage point, near where our old cabin (lol) was, provides a great view down the mere and over the area the larger gulls normally use – why do think we put it there? So a stop at that point is obligatory and produced the goods! During a scan of the gulls a sharp ‘chit’ was heard…I like it!...moving closer to the reedbed it came again and with a little rattle too…we like it even more! So I whistled my poor imitation of a Cetti’s song as loud as I could…well it worked a treat in Sardinia last month so it had to be worth a try…and guess what…yep you got it - IT WORKED…a bit of subsong came straight back at me from out of the reed – Gotcha! So standing there flushed with success and dry mouthed from far too much whistling we had another scan through the gulls and came up trumps with an eclipse male Garganey! You might not believe the photo - enlarge for a giggle at my skills, or lack of digiscope equipment.Now we’re cooking on gas!!! Bring on the Slaty Backed Gull…well good things come in threes don’t they? No such luck, all gulls grilled revealed nowt special. Apart from one that wanted the Barn Owl to wake up and come out to play. Doesn’t he know it’s past owley’s bed time? The Shovelers are starting to colour up but very lively and hard to get one with its head out of the water.
Down at the Fylde Bird Club hide the Alder Buckthorns we planted some years back have a super crop of berries. They were planted to attract Brimstone butterflies as we had the tiniest of flurries of sightings back then. Since we planted them I don’t think there’s been a single record. Bumped into an old mate who I’ve not seen for yonks and while we were chatting I noticed one of the Coots had a ring…could I get on it with the camera? No chance; until someone appeared with a bag of bread for the ducks. I asked them to throw some towards it but unfortunately they threw a big lump straight at it which it got, couldn’t swallow and dashed off into the water to wet it. So photo opportunity lost. The ring says ‘Inform’…well we knew that, it was the numbers we wanted.
Skylarks started to trickle past and by the time it was time to leave they were coming through in some numbers, probably had about 30 altogether.
Had a bit of fun with the resident Mute Swans! When we first got to site there was a flock of 9 swans sat out in the middle of the mere, it would have been nice if the were Whooper Swans but they weren’t.
Time was up and we had to leave but would have dearly loved to stay all day and nailed the Radde’s/Dusky - hahahahaha.
On the way back to Base Camp we took the lanes and were disappointed to see that the farmers/highways department had trimmed all the hedges down to the wood destroying all the cover and berries. Surely in this 'enlightened' day and age they should know better - no wonder so many species are suffering.

Patch 2 for a few minutes before hitting the ‘puter – no sign of anything dodgy in the Grebe line, no sign of anything actually apart from a few scattered flocklets of Common Scoters.

Where to next? Those Dowitchers really do need ticking off. Saturday is out, but doing something at work that may be of interest to you…or not as the case may be.
In the meantime let us know what you’ve been seeing in your favourite bit of your outback.