Saturday 30 April 2011

A bit of a plea

Dear fellow bloggers

Have a look at this sorry its a direct c n p from their stock reply to my repsonse to the petition:

I’ve just signed a petition to stop the government from scrapping important laws that protect our climate and countryside. The government claims that these laws are 'red tape,' but in reality we need these laws to stop politicians and private companies from harming our environment.

When thousands of us signed the petition to Save our Forests, it worked. If as many of us as possible sign this petition, the government will have to listen.

Please sign the petition here:


On a much lighter note our new trees had their first bird perched in them this morning...a good one...a male House Sparrow, which appeared from OUR side of the road flew in front of the Land Rover and landed in one of the trees on the other side of the road.

No safaris today, nothing in or over Base Camp either.

Where to next? We'll be out somewhere on safari tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know who's trying to put the kybosh on your outback.

A right royal day out

The Safari headed north to meet up with the King of Fun and chums. On the way we stopped at the old quarry where Peregrines nornally nest. We saw one flying around the cliff face, our second of the day as the Patch 1 one was on the tower again at 06.00 (the Lesser Whitethroat was there too this morning). This year Ravens have also nested in the quarry and predated the Peregrine's eggs. We watched as an adult Raven came back with some food and the youngsters were very well behaved each taking their turn without fighting - we could see right down the bright red gapes - impressive birds. At one point the Peregrine buzzed the nest as if to say "I'm still here you know!!!" It was then mobbed by a few Jackdaws, one of which it took a dislike too and gave a lesson in terror - swinging above it and stooping repeatedly as the Jackdaw tumbled out of the way, an impressive display of aerobatic skills from both birds.

On the drive to our rendezvous a crackin male Bullfinch flew acroos the road and landing in a bush in full view, the first we have actually seen this year.

Given that the sun was warming up we decided to check out a local reptile site. After turning a few stones we found not reptiles but amphibians.

Along with the Toad, Frogs and Smooth Newts, male with spotty tail in pic above, there were a couple that just didn't look quite right. A bit of gentle newt-wrangling later and we think this is a Palmate Newt on the basis of the plain un-spotted flesh pink chin - if anyone would like to confirm or refute this ID please chip in.

Insects were good here to with Broad Bodied and 4-spotted Chaser dragonflies wheeling around over Common Blue, Blue Tailed, Azure and Small Red Damselfies. On of our safari members got onto an Early Thorn moth. Our favourite were the Bee Flies though.

Without finding any reptiles we moved on to another site where Wood Ants were known to be present. after the heat of the quarry the coolness of the wods was a welcome change. Not much was moving but a Buzzard responded to whistles coming overhead at treetop height. The area has been fenced to keep deer out to help with the revegetation of the understory but here a Badger run hass had to be made, how did we know it was Badgers? Hawk-eyed AB found a guard hair stuck to the soil - well he was the only one of us who'd brought their glasses!

A few inverts were on the move with probably Dingy Skipper seen a couple of times but not nailed, and the ubiquitous Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks were numerous. A bright 'butterfly' caught the eye and was followed until it settled.

Not a butterfly but a day-flying Speckled Yellow moth - certainly brighter than a Dingy Skipper butterfly.

Best find here was this Herb Paris with a smaller specimen nearby - this a rare plant in these parts and one the safari has only been shown before so this 'self-found' was worth the trip. it has to have the most bizarre flower of any UK native plant.

We couln't work out what had happened to the Wood Ants as disappointingly no mounds were seen, there used to be several colonies here and surely with the recent warm weather they'd be active by now. So it was on to join the masses of royal-avoiders at the main nature reserve; there were plenty more who had the same idea as us, in fact we don't think any of us had ever seen the reserve so busy!!! Standing room only on some of the trails!

No Bearded Tits (aka Bearded Reedlings or Reeded Beardlings to those with a sense of fun) were seen and they were never going to be heard above the racket the nesting Black Headed Gulls make...Good nest boxes they have though. A Marsh Tit (166) was seen at the Feeding station, as we hoped it would be, in fact it was the first bird to come in to feed as we watched and took its sunny seed right above AB who took some stonking pics only to find his camera was saying it had no memory card - double ARRRRRGGGGHHHH.

On route to the hides we passed people with lenses as long as your arm photographing a Reed Warbler singing from a bush in the reed bed just off the path (aka Sedge Warbler) - that seemed to be theme of the day people with all the gear; his n hers matching Swazzas and a Canon/Nikon my lens is longer than yours convention but most didn't seem to know what they were looking at half the time - buy a Field Guide guys and then study it...What did AB say? "Collins now do a simple two pager....arse and elbow!!!" A bit of field craft wouldn't go amiss from many of them either - or maybe we were just being a bit elitist, they were enjoying being out looking at the birds whichever one they thought they were looking at at the time doesn't seem to have bothered them - no wonder the sightings book here is a bit thin no-one dares to comit to admiting to what they have seen.

Best bug of the reserve was this Icneumeon Wasp on the hand rail at one the hides.

Most birders would have said that this Osprey (167) was best bird of the day. It certainly put on a good show and at one stage we had it and two Marsh Harriers in the bins together with another distant raptor gliding through (another Osprey?) This was a relief as earlier we'd missed it by five minutes driving from the quarry to the woods.

Most birders were sooo wrong - this 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull was easily bird of the day, even pipping the pair of Garganeys and Whooper Swan seen later.

Avocets are recentish colonists to this part of the world and only 20 years or so ago if you'd have said they would be breeding in these parts before long you'd have got some very funny looks!

We reckoned that the Lesser Whitethroat away rattling from the depths of the hedgerow behind the hide was a proper birders bird. Too subtely beautiful for the dudes around us, if they could ever get to see it or ID it on call.After the joy that was the birding masses we went back to the reptile quarry to see if the sun had brought any out on the side that was shaded earlier. AB thought he heard a Cuckoo but if he did it didn't call again. Three Common Lizards were found but nothing 'more spectacular'.Certainly nothing as spectacular as this Broad Bodied Chaser,
Well that was a brief description of a crackin laugh-a-minute day out - who says this wildlife safari-ing is serious stuff and can't be fun, not all the fun was at other pepoles expense we hasten to add. Enjoy it, get your IDs right, record it, protect it! And don't let the govermint desroy the Wildlife and Countryside Act - Britain's wildlife and its habitats need more protection from lunatic development schemes not less!!! the number of people out today shows how much it is appreciated and valued and is far more important than the shenenegans of a family whose ancestors once had a bigger stick, a more brutal followers and a bit more luck than someone else's family...and we're still paying the price for that...or at least or Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, White Tailed Eagles etc are.

Where to next? Back to reality with a bump, the bump could be the head landing in a basket after that treasonable outburst!!!

In the meantime let us know what the bird of the day ought to have been in your outback.

Thursday 28 April 2011

A lovely day in the sun

The Safari was out amphibianing last night but only managed to record a single male Great Crested Newt and that was only the in the spotlight as it was well beyond the reach of the net.

Early this morning the long awaited the Lesser Whitethroat had arrived with one heard calling from exactly where we were listening for them yesterday when we were so rudely interupted by Patch 1's first ever Sedge Warbler.

Then we had a morning out in the field with three sites to visit. On our way to the first we noted a Buzzard circling with two other small raptors but from the driver's seat on twisting lanes it was impossible to tell if they were two Sparrowhawks, two Kestrels or one of each.

Site 1 was a 'potential' snake pit as the sign might suggest...apologies to CR for nicking his pic so don't anyone else go half-inching it or else!!! We would have taken the exact same pic but had a camera malfunction...didn't take spare charged batteries with us...duhhhhh...

Where there any Adders? We doubt it as there was no suitable habitat. There might have been at one time but all the unshaded bankside had been buried in a variety of garden waste from the neighbouring riverside posh houses. Not just here but all along the river and we even spotted a fine and dandy chap red handed tipping a wheel barrow load of clippings in to the river - you think if they can afford a house like those they could nip to B&Q and get a shredder and make a compost heap rather than fly tip it in the countryside, even if it is 'their' countryside. The same thing has started to happen in Woodpigeon Wood on Patch 1, because the landscapers dumped all their grass cuttings on the wood, burying a large patch of Garlic Mustard (food plant of the Orange Tip butterfly which we don't get on Patch 1 surprise surprise) everyone and his uncle off the estate is now doing the same thing, it's started but it'll be damn near impossible to stop!!!

It seems more likely that the sign is there to 'encourage' people not to loiter by the stream near the posh houses rather than there actually being any Adders there.
We saw a little brood of Mallards and heard numerous Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Chaffcinches. A pair of Mistle Thrushes rattled their way through the woods and there were numerous Orange Tip butterflies.
Turning downstream we noted several more Mistle Thrushes including one in the stream hopping from stone to stone pretending to be a Dipper when, knock us down with a feather, a real Dipper flew right past it! We sat for a while and watched a Grey Wagtail collecting flies for its hungry brood somewhere nearby.

Next up we drove a few miles north to Site 2 where the car park was full of mutt-walkers unloading their yapping charges...great!!! So we took our leave of them and headed off across the lane to the quiet side. After spotting a Great Tit we heard a Garden Warbler (164) a few yards down the track. There he was singing away in full view from a low branch to the side of the track, all big eyed and white eye-ringed. More Orange tips fluttered past as we walked on. A Willow Warbler scrap ended with both males singing at each other from either side of us, we felt like we were piggy-in-the-middle.
Towards the end of the track is a pleasant dry place to sit at peace with the world. We watched a Dipper going about its business and the Brown Trout jumping for Mayflies...there wasn't a soul about, just us, the birdsong, the sploosh of the jumping fish and Orange Tip butterflies fluttering about over the Bluebells and Ramsons (aka Wild Garlic) on the far bank...bliss...sorted!!!

This has been a regular spot for Kingfishers but with none being reported locally it seems that the freezing conditions in december might have caused a population crash - certainly none there in the hour we sat and stared at the river.
There was no shortage of Alder Flies flying around though the freezing winter hasn't affected them.

After a swim to cool down Frank was in no mood to go anywhere else...and boy does he let you know. This isn't roly-poly scratchy-backy this is down right mardy I'm not moving!!! and you're not going to make me!!!!!

It was a couple of hundred yards of dragging Frank back to the Land Rover , time well spent as we heard at least two more Garden Warblers. Before we left this site we decided we would have a quick look at the pond in the woods in the 'doogy-zone' just in case there were any signs of newts. There wasn't, it's become full of Marsh(?) Horsetails and there isn't much open water left and that which there is was totally mud up from the large numbers of dogs that had dived in as they passed.
We did see this extensive bracket fungus growing on an Italian Alder tree, perhaps one of last years that has dried out a bit.

Sometimes at this site we venture off-piste to see if we can find the small herd of Roe Deer that live here but with Frank likely to go crashing about through the undergrowth with all the stealth of a Chieftain Tank we decided to leave them be today.

Walking back to the Land Rover through the grassland - which seriously needs grazing as it's becoming a wood - used to be grazed by cattle in the winter and was good for Common Spotted Orchids in the summer, now it looks like it's getting a bit too rank and will soon be too shaded for them - we came across a nice clump of Cowslips in one of the still more open areas.

Our third stop was another peaceful site which we called in at for a few minutes on the way back to Base Camp. The hedgerows gave us Whitethroats and Chaffinches but the reason for stopping there was the pit. A scan with the scope saw a few gulls, Black Heads and Lesser Black Backs, along with a Coot, a handful of Mallards and a couple of pairs of Lapwings.

Best of all, at the back of the pit was a single Little Ringed Plover (165). A couple of male Reed Buntings were seen near the canal and as we approached the Land Rover a Sparrowhawk appeared from behind the hedge, saw us jinked and banked away behind the Land Rover and out of sight.
All in all a fine moring out on safari in glorious spring sunshine.

Where to next? Tomorrow we're avoiding any hint of royalty by going out on an action packed and no doubt fun filled safari up north with AB.
We have a few target species and maybe we'll get to 170 before the month is out, but that leaves fewer to get during the remainder of the year. More invisible snakes could well be on the cards too.
In the meantime let us know what's not basking in the sun in your outback.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Wasn’t expecting THAT warbler

The Safari headed out onto a cool Patch 1 this morning. At the Golden Triangle the Blackcap out-sung a Robin and a Dunnock in the musicality stakes.
Getting nearer to the Butterfly Zone we could here the Chiffchaff and Blackcap but were concentrating on listening to our right where any Whitethroats or Lesser Whitethroats are most likely to be heard. It was then our attention was swung fully 180ยบ round to the left...a Sedge Warbler, WTF was that doing singing in that thick bit of thicket? Who cares – it was new bird for the patch even if it was skulking in the ‘wrong’ bit of habitat. Patch 1 all-time total now stands at 75 and a healthy 51 for the year.
Just two more Blackcaps were heard on our safari round the park and no sign of the Coal Tit this morning, but we did hear a Chaffinch singing so they’re still around and there are at least a couple of pairs of Greenfinches kickin about. The latter don’t appear to have suffered the population crash here that they have in other areas.
A crashing of Woodpigeons exploding out of the tree tops indicated that the Sparrowhawk might have just dashed through.
On the way back through the Butterfly Zone we found our first predated egg of the season, a Blackbird’s.
Over on Patch 2 they tide was a low one and just on the turn. Nothing much appeared to be about but we soon found a flock of four very distant Common Scoters followed by another four flying much closer. A couple of Red Throated Divers on the water were noted to be still in winter plumage and another couple were seen in flight more distantly.
Close inshore a Cormorant caught a few small fish although they must have been large enough to warrant it bringing them to the surface to swallow. This piscivorous activity brought a Great Black Back Gull in to investigate if there was anything to steal.
Out to sea we picked up a tern which we kept with for a while until it, and another a bit further behind it, came past within ID range, two Arctic Terns (163).
The final birds of the short session were four Gannets heading north way out towards the horizon.
Our lunchtime safari was a waste of good viewing conditions with very little seen except for far too much litter floating about in the near to middle distance, the sea being the victim of a warm holiday weekend
The beach was very disturbed with bait diggers, dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders; a plague of the accursed hominids. The only small scattering of gulls was distant to the south silhouetted in the shimmer.
Where to next? Day off tomorrow followed by yet more public holidays – don’t yer just love those royals! – So we should be on safari somewhere in the remoter regions of our outback and we have a couple of new sites to check out.
In the meantime let us know how the hominid plague is infesting your outback.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Back to reality

The Safari was out on Patch 1 earlyish but now we’re out too late; the majority of the birdsong is long over by 06.00 now.
The Golden Triangle held the regular Blackcap and two more were in the Butterfly Zone with fourth in the park. Our usual Coal Tit was singing way too but that was about it. Still nothing in the way of Whitethroat or Lesser Whitethroat – will they appear or are we going to be out of luck this year?
The pre-work Patch 2 safari was no better. For once visibility wasn’t too bad, to the south we could just about make out the Welsh hills, but good visibility doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see any wildlife. The sea was only gently ruffled by a slight offshore breeze so if there was anything out there we would have seen it. Problem was there was nothing out there bar a few Cormorants. Eventually we watched a single Common Scoter come from distance, past us and continue its way southwards. Over the receding tideline one of two Sandwich Terns was being harassed by a Black Headed Gull, could have done with it being harassed by an Arctic Skua but it wasn’t likely to happen today. Out on the water all we could find was a solitary Great Black Backed Gull, a lone Great Crested Grebe and, heading north, a lonely Red Throated Diver.
Absolutely nothing was heard going overhead.
Not the most exciting morning’s safari-ing we’ve ever had...back down to earth with a serious bump!!! Still, it can only get better...we hope...
We hoped and hoped, but it was still dire at lunchtime. If anything the visibility was a little better but there was nothing on the sea to see!
We scanned to the left, we scanned to the right, we scanned back and forth again - all to no avail.
It seemed a lost cause then we decided to give the almost empty beach a quick look just in case on the off-chance there was a Whimbrel paddling about somewhere, and bingo – no Whimbrels but a rather tidy adult Yellow Legged Gull was feeding down by the water’s edge with a couple of dozen Herring Gulls! We watched it delve deep in to the sand and pull out and swallow whole shells; from the distance we were watching from it looked like they were probably Rayed Trough Shells, they must have been at the limits of its reach as it stuck its head into the sand all the way to its eyeballs but how did it know where to dig?
A flock of three Curlews flew over it and quickly getting on to them revealed the middle of the three was actually the Whimbrel we’d been half expecting. The Whimbrel brings up the 50 for Patch 2 so far this year.
Unfortunately there was no sign of the couple of Harbour Porpoises that have lurking up and down the coast over the holiday weekend...and it began raining, for a change...
So all was almost well that ended well or at least it wasn’t quite as bad as first feared.
Where to next? More of the same patchy stuff.
In the meantime let us know what’s delving face first into the sand in your outback.

Monday 25 April 2011

Dilemas: Decisions, decisions

The Safari is really really grateful for Bank Holidays and modern technology this morning, woulda really been soooo frustrated if today was a work day!!!

Breaking news from SE's blog last night was that a first for Lancashire had turned up at Fleetwood Nature Park, a Short Toed Lark which we didn't read about until it had gone dark - so would it have cleared off by this morning? (S, we thought you didn't twitch :)...)

A few txts later and we learned that the boys were off with MJ to see it it was still there after all. But in the meantime we'd had a txt from CR that a Whinchat was at the nature reserve, much nearer and that is a serious consideration on a Bank Holiday Monday with blistering sunshine.

With no news from the boys we assumed the Short Toed Lark had moved on and we were chatting to CR within quarter of an hour whilst enjoying views of a stonkingly bright male Whinchat (159) - a bit of a relief as we didn't see one last year nor the year before. Around us were three reeling Grasshopper Warblers, a number of fresh-in Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats dancing out of every bush and a couple of very dapper male Reed Buntings - what a fine and beautiful morning.

A wander down to the viewing platform gave us a pair of Long Tailed Tits foraging right above our heads. A Kestrel soared over the mere and while have a look at that we picked up our first Swift (160) of the year very high up and it didn't stay long. Hopefully they'll be checking out our Swift nest box soon.

Moving round to the Feeding Station we bumped into an old friend and had a chat while several Orange Tips flew around us, twenty years ago we'd have stood there spellbound as this would have been an astonishing sight but now it's a case of 'oh look a few Orange Tips that's nice' - they have gone through the roof in the last few years.

With nothing doing other than three Dunnocks wing raising at the Feeding Station and Frank still shattered from yesterday and getting hot we decided to call it a day and head back to Base Camp to cool him off and get a brew ourselves. Rounding the corner we saw a posse of birders grilling the Whinchat including the boys, so had they seen the lark or not...yes!!! so it was still there after all - no brew for us or rest for Frank - we pointed the Land Rover at the nearest traffic jam and went nowhere fast! A silly detour around the jam and plethora of road-works got us lost in a housing estate we never ever want to see again and lost us more time than we probably would have lost had we just sat impatiently in the queue! Where do all these slow idiots come from and why don't they just stay at home - don't they know there's birds to be twitched?

Was it still there? Phewww - yes it was, Short Toed Lark (161) an unbelievably good bonus bird for our Year List Challenge with Monika. Possibly the most nondescript bird we've seen since the last one we saw too many years ago. Took loads of long range pics but this was the only 'presentable' one, can you see any of the ID features - we can't!!!

All around was an exaltation of Skylarks singing in the azure blue sky. then from the river came the call of a passing Whimbrel (162). with Frank totally zonked by now it was time to head back to Base Camp, after a short but successful morning's twitching.

Before we set off though we spotted a large patch of Wild Pansies that were worth getting closer too and far more important in the local scheme of things than the lost lark.

A shed load of gulls were bathing on the pool on the way back to the car park. many were Lesser Black Backs and it would be rude not to have checked through them for a white-winger...there wasn't.

Where to next? Back to the patches and who knows what might turn up there - after all the Short Toed Lark was found by a lad on his local patch.

In the meantime let us know what rarities wind's brought to your outback.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Up the uplands

The Safari, wifey and Frank set off early for the hills to avoid the heat of the day, not that heat was allegedly not on the cards today, but frank doesn't cope well with heat and he was in for a fair walk quite a bit further than he normally goes.

Several species were on the target how did we get on?
Not far out of town on the lanes a Red Legged Partridge (154) was strutting along the road, a good start.

Arriving on site we soon had another year bird in the form of a female Pied Flycatcher (155)flitting around a hole near the base of one of the large old streamside Alders to a backdrop of a bank of Primroses on the other side of the stream.

Then a calamity, Frank heard the sound of running water and follwed is ears down a steep bank and in to the water...then he wasn't able to climb out so muggins here had to drop all the kit we were carrying to clamber down and drag him out.

Loading back up we pushed the tripod legs together and one snapped off. Cheap and nasty Chinese thing but with the scope essential at the end of the walk not a good start to the day!

A Kestrel flew round the side of plantation while hundreds of Willow Warblers and Chaffinches sang from every tree.

Higher up the hill the go-back go-back go-back of Red Grouse (156) was heard from the Heather covered hillside. A Raven croaked in the far distance while a Buzzard soared on the first thermal of the day.

A Mistle Thrush dashed across the valley pursued by a Meadow Pipit which may have thought it wasa raptor. Funnily the Mistle Thrush was intent on catching up with a Sparrowhawk to give it hell. Curlews started bubbling all over the place, a really atmospheric sound.

Frank was getting hot by now even though it was still quite early in the morning - ooh he's a lovely boy!!! Ignore the milky white legs...

At the end of the road we scanned with the scope sort of resting on the wobbly two-legged tripod but we were unable to find the Eagle Owl on the far hillside.

On the walk back a farmer set off up the hill on a quad-bike and three Collies to round up his sheep and promptly flushed a Blackbird from a big bale of hay. A Blackbird way up here above the tree line? more like a nice male Ring Ouzel (157).

Other birders reported a Peregrine and another large bird of prey known around these parts but we didn't manage to see either. But sadly no-one had seen or heard any Hen Harriers, Whinchats, Cuckoos or Tree Pipits.
Just have to go back won't we...perhaps without Frank next time..he was cream crackered by the time we got back to the car.

The road back gave us a surprise Dipper (158) where the road runs close to the river, useful being the passenger for a change.
Where to next? One day of hols left so another day's safari somewhere a bit more local for Frank's sake.

In the meantime let us know if the hills are alive with the sound of birdsong in your outback.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Hope that wasn't summer

The Safari put the moth trap out again last night but not long after the lamp was turned on a few spots of unforecast rain were felt followed by a deluge two minutes later, we dashed in to the garage andd yanked the plug from the socket before the fuses blew and there endeth the nights mothing! we hope the electrics dry out before our next session!

Five and a half hours too late we went around to Patch 1. All the usual suspects were the right places. Best of what was a very pleasant and hardly disturbed hour were three Lesser Redpolls (P1, 49) going over and a male Sparrowhawk that shot between us and Frank then banked in to a vertical climb landing in the top of a tree that the sctotes clamber about in. As it landed there was a lot of calling going on so we suspect the female may well have been on a nest up there.

A Speckled Wood danced around the base of a small copse of trees.

A mosey along the hedgerows and rough field didn't produce the hoped for Whitethroat or Lesser Whitethroat but we did find evidence of breeding Greenfinch, Blackbird, Long Tailed Tit and saw a pair of Chaffinches.

The afternoon was spent at the nature reserve, without Frank for a change. The temperature had plummeted to an unpleasant too warm for a jacket far too cold for just a tee-shirt and when the wind picked...brrrrr.

Arriving on site we immediately heard Chiffchaff and Whitethroat

Some well meaning anti-ecologist has been round planting Horse Chestnuts all over the wetalnd - they probably think they're doing a 'good thing' but the rangers are going to have to go round and dig them all out - as if they don't have enough to do! Our mystery planter would be better planting acorns or Alder Buckthorn berries, in the right palce of course.

So why do we not want trees at this wetland site? Well the pic below shows a good enough reason, the folded leaf indicated more than likely hides a Great Creat Crested Newt egg. There are more details of the signs of newts we found over on the FARG blog.

As we left this part of the site the regular Grasshopper Warbler fired up and was just audible above the noise of low flying aircraft and the wind. We enjoyed a chilly wander around the rest of the reserve. A few Swallows brought our reserve list to 85 for this year. In the distance three Buzzards got all the gulls up out of the fields that were having trailer loads of manure spread over them. A Sparrowhawk circling not too high over the mere didn't phase the gulls at all this time but later a Heron at height (no, not a White Stork this time unfortunately) had them all in the air.

Another Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling from the quickly spreading Bramble in the paddock that really needs removing. This one has apparently been showing quite well over the last few days but we still haven't clapped eyes on any of the secretive little fellas.

Moving on down the track we heard a Lesser Whitethroat rattling away in the dense scrub, where the Apple trees a bedecked with flowers.

Heading back out in to the open overlooking the reedbed just how many Reed warblers were there? But where are the Sedge Warblers? Are they late or have they suffered a crash over the winter, it comes to something when you can hear more Cetti's Warblers (4) singing than Sedge Warblers at the start of the last week of April, the Percy Sledges used to be the most numerous warbler here not so long ago.

From the Fylde Bird Club hide we took the following pics and was put onto a mobile Common Sandpiper (86 - will we get 100 here for the year: the White Stork the other day was the reserve's 230th species) on the far scrape, no Little Ringed Plovers or Yellow Wagtails though and no Whinchats in the rough or along the fences below the embankment - what is the world coming to?

A last look over the mere before we had to leave gave us no Black Terns either.
Where to next? An early start and a far flung safari into the mountains tomorrow - assuming the weather behaves itself.

In the meantime let us know who's been planting the wrong things, or the right thing in the wrong place, in your outback.

LATE EDIT: Worryingly one of the Peregrines was back on the tower at tea time when we were out playing footy with Frank - hope that doesn't mean there is a bird missing from a nest site somewhere...

Friday 22 April 2011

First mothing session of the year

The Safari was able to get the moth trap out last night, complete with new 'black' bulb. At long last!!!

Nothing special but at least the new bulb scored.

Three Hebrew Characters were in the trap.

A fairly worn Common Quaker too.

There was another very worn thingy that was unidentifyable, possibly another Common Quaker and an escapee! No micros to get us racking our brains, or calling for help!
Here is the darkest (freshest?) of the Hebrew Characters and the Common Quaker.

Where to next? May get out later today to do a bit of birding otherwise it'll be early tomorrow morning - there is the small (lol) matter of the White Stork to sort out - is it still kicking about the estuary???
In the meantime let us know if your pots were filled last night.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Couldn’t make it three days in a row!

The Safari was surprised to hear the Blackcap coming from the wrong direction this morning. The house on the corner has a small front garden which has two mature Crab Apple trees in it and it was from one of those our little friend was singing.
Up the hill and round the corner the usual Golden Triangle Blackcap was giving it welly in a duet with a Song Thrush.
A male Sparrowhawk weaved between the houses and over the gardens at the speed of sound, crikey was it shifting!
Moving on towards the Butterfly Zone before we arrived we could hear the Chiffchaff and the Blackcap before we arrived. In the park proper we had a new Blackcap half way up the hill and the now regular one in the wet bottom corner, the Coal Tit was in the conifers nearby too.
Out on a short pre-work Patch 1 the tide was well out and it was very, very hazy out at sea. On the beach we counted 247 Oystercatchers and no other waders, three Swallows had the Oystercatchers ducking as they skimmed the beach going the ‘wrong way’, south! Going the right way were about 10 Meadow Pipits heard calling as they passed overhead.

Just behind the ineffectual surf was a Guillemot and a bit further out a big bull Grey Seal stuck his big Roman nose out for a brief look-see then sank back beneath the surface.
Then followed a very enjoyable morning spent with a group of young families exploring the sands and rockpools. Lots of goodies as you can see from the pics and just about the biggest fish we’ve ever netted during one of these events, not a Codling we think, what it is though we're not sure. Possibly a juvenile Whiting or Pollack as it doesn't seem to have a barbel under its chin.

At lunchtime the tide was well on the rise and the haze was even worse than earlier. A lone female Common Scoter was all we could muster in a 20 minute watch.

A hot hour was spent at the nature reserve, its not far short of 40C warmer than this time four months ago! We were on a specific mission but that fell flat on its face as what we were after seems to have long gone. There was enough time for a short walk to the Container Hide and on the way down we heard two Lesser Whitethroats. At the hide wesaw two Reed Warblers giving each other a chase through the reed bed and at one point all the gulls went up but we didn't find the culprit.

Where to next? Could be anywhere now it’s holiday time.

In the meantime let us know what monsters of the deep are lurking in your outback.