Friday 30 September 2011

Purple haze

The Safari reckons you can’t beat a bit of Jimi H!
No Patch 1 jaunt this morning; would you believe it Frank overslept!!! The glimpse of the tower’s ledges we get when driving up the hill to work gave us no Peregrines today.
At Patch 2 the tide was well out and the sea still horribly hazy. The stiffish southerly breeze gave a little chop and a few small white horses further out but just behind the surf it was almost flat calm and the Common Scoters were strung out nice and easy to count for a change. They were a bit mobile but we got a fairly accurate count of about 400. A Grey Seal was very close in, between the scoters and the beach. He seemed to be taking an interest in the bait digger ‘working’ at the water’s edge.
As we counted through the scoters a duck with a lot of white underneath and on the upper wing landed with a big splash and thrashed around a bit probably having a bit of a bathe. Once it had settled down we were watching a very nice, and very welcome, male Scaup (196); not seen a male for longer than we care to remember and the last Scaup we did see was a bit of a scratty 1st winter bird. It was however on our ‘list’ of birds we hoped to connect with before the end of the year and inch us slowly towards our target of 200. Still got three Yankee waders in the sights for the weekend too; two of which are ‘bonus’ birds the other already identified as a ‘possible target’. Once we’d reached 150 we drew up a list of what was left, we’ve got some but Cuckoo got away and the chance of Yellow Wagtail dwindles by the day although we note. Kingfishers have so far eluded us but they seem to be reappearing in their regular haunts and the Bearded Tits on the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB are always worth a look – love those moustachioed males...but why aren’t they called Moustached Tits as they have a much better Mexican style moustache (apologies for being so stereotypical to any Mexican readers) than the pathetic facial attire of the Moustached Warbler. Hawfinch is another one on the hope to get list and we should be recovered enough to go for to the north once the leaves have dropped and they become a bit easier to all in all the 200 looks quite achievable but we’re far from convinced we can beat Monika, she’ll surely have a similar list of targets and hopefuls to keep us guessing until late afternoon on 31st December. The great thing with birding is you just never know what you’re going to find once you leave Base Camp and this morning’s Scaup illustrates the fact nicely.
While doing all that counting we noted several parties of bouncy passerines going over the sea and others, out of focus, closer over the beach through the scope’s field of view while overhead there was the almost constant calls of unknown numbers of Meadow Pipits; we’d guess at over a hundred seen and heard but only Meadow Pipits no other species were heard not even any alba’ Wagtails.
No change on the rising tide by dinner time and there was still a reasonable amount of Meadow Pipit passage going on – all of it over the sea as none were heard overhead.
Apparently there is a Europe-wide vis mig event over the weekend for you all to join in (if you’re anywhere in Europe that is).
We might also be able to get the moth trap going too but some of the weather webbos are suggesting it may well rain overnight.
Where to next? Last weekend of freedom for a while - hope we're able to make the most of it.

In the meantime let us know what crash-landed in your outback.

Thursday 29 September 2011

What’s beyond the gloom

The Safari was out on Patch 1 just as the first throes of pink hit the dawn sky and despite the breeze it was still very warm...warmer than many of the days in August! All setting up quite nicely for today to be the hottest day of the year. Better watch out as in a week or so it’ll be -5C and we’ll all be whinging about the cold...
Not a lot doing on Patch 1 just the usual Robins and Blackbirds, uncounted today – very remiss of us. No Peregrines were seen on the tower but given the wind direction the could have been round the other side – a text from CR mid morning confirmed two were present and we look forward to seeing his pics in due course.
The haze on Patch 2 was even worse than yesterday, the tide was well out and we could only see another 2-300 yards out to see from the tide line! Far enough to note that there didn’t seem to be any change in the numbers of visible Common Scoters but there wasn’t anything with them today. Hundreds of gulls were on the beach and the most noticeable change with them was a 10 fold increase in the number of Common Gulls from the recent one or two seen to fairly easy count of 20 without peering too far down the beach. Couldn’t find anything more unusual though, with the numbers present you’d think a Mediterranean Gull might be picked out once in a while, certainly more often than just once a year.
There were more Oystercatchers than yesterday at 187 but no other waders, perhaps flushed off by the regularly spaced 11 bait diggers some of whom had head torches so had been ‘working’ for at least two hours. Wonder how much tonnage of Lugworm gets removed from the beach in a year.
Overhead passage was very thin only two Meadow Pipits were seen and another heard and just one alba’ Wagtail heard.
Mid morning we had the strangest call for the Rangers, one almost worthy of April 1st. Apparently there have been reports of half eaten cats and other animals at one of the local cemeteries. After instantly dismissing Zombies we immediately came to the conclusion someone has lost an Eagle Owl or one of the young ‘wild’ ones from Bowland is one the move (there are urban Eagle Owls in several European cities some not too far from our East coast) – but no the sightings reported to the Police by some witnesses are of a large cat-like mammal, tufty ears, no tail – ring any bells? Can’t wait to find out who’s lost one of those from their back yard...and what were they thinking of having one anyway...probably turn out to be Pit-bull or some such other large dog!
Nothing troubled the notebook during our Patch 2 safari at lunchtime. The haze had lifted but other than the usual amount of scoters not a lot was happeniing. The fishermen were reporting numbers of ‘troublesome doggies’ (Small Spotted Catsharks) and a few Dabs but nothing worth taking home for the pan.
Where to next? The weekend is getting nearer and hopefully the Yanks to the north of us will stick around until then.
In the meantime let us know what’s eating the pets in your outback

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Hot n hazy

The Safari was out on Patch 1 this morning and heard loud shrieks coming from the water tower but it wasn’t until we’d got back to Magpie Wood that we could make out where the Peregrine was sitting – it was tucked in behind the comms cables.
A Song Thrush at the corner of the Golden Triangle was the first we’ve come across down there for a good while but we couldn’t say if it was a resident or one that had bobbed in off- passage for the day. An uncomprehensive count of the Magpies in Magpie Wood gave us 23 but there are still a few too many leaves on the trees to be able to get a realistic full count.
At Patch 2 there was a horrid low sea haze which made for a weird light almost impossible to focus the scope in and reduced visibility to about a mile. Despite that we got a good count of waders on the low tide mark, 111 Oystercatchers, just 3 Sanderlings and a nice, but distant, summer plumaged Grey Plover. A flock of four Golden Plovers going south over the beach was a good spot for the patch; as was a late Gannet going north just offshore.
On the water we got a fairly accurate count in the light swell of 254 Common Scoters which suggests we may have been seriously underestimating the numbers out there in recent days. At last something a bit different was in with them, two pairs of Wigeon and a male Eider.
Overhead the haze was enough to blot out any vis happening but we still heard Meadow Pipit(s?),an alba’ Wagtail(s?) going south, and a Grey Wagtail (the resident?) going north.
By lunchtime the light was even worse as the sun had moved round to the south. Five Sandwich Terns (2, 2 & 1) made their way south over the ever-present scoters. Also a fair distance out at sea two ‘bouncy’ passerines going south could well have been Meadow Pipits as two other parties of six came ‘in-off’.
From yesterday those clever iSpotters have given an answer to the Cormorant conundrum based on the most recent research into IDing the two subspecies and come up with ours being a ‘sinensis’ (‘Continental, or at least inland breeding) type.
Apparently the gular angle in greatest in the populations in the warmest regions of the world, perhaps an adaptation for extra gulation to help cooling.

Some weather news now, at 3.30 this arvo it was 25C making it the joint hottest day of the year with 3rd & 26th late September!!!
Where to next? More hot heat tomorrow - will we get to 26C and the hottest day of the year?
In the meantime let us know what's gulating in your outback.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Coulda stayed out a lot longer.

The Safari was out late last night with big Frank and we heard our first Pink Footed Geese of the season going over. We looked up at the stars but didn’t see any disappear and reappear as a goose flew by. By the sound’s they were making there was a good number of them and they were flying inland. It would be a sad loss if the geese were to become a thing of the past, we aren’t a great fan of them - bit like feathered sheep – but there is something spiritual and uplifting about hearing their calls either in the darkness as they fly by night or their conversation while they feed in the fields...more/all people should abandon their consumer lifestyles and give the telly a miss if only for a few hours just to sit, listen and reflect on the world around them.
This morning our early morning walk didn’t get as far as the tower but we could hear plenty of Robins and a Sparrowhawk whizzed past in the half light hoping to nab an unwary one.
Out on Patch 2 a trawler hauled its nets very close inshore surrounded by gulls but nothing more exciting was with them. Plenty of Common Scoters were out there, with the flatter sea we guesstimated well over 500 but again we could find the odd one out – if indeed there is an odd one out with them.
There was a bit of ‘vis’ going on; in the few minutes we were on the seawall we had eight Pied Wagtails, 13 Meadow Pipits, and a flock of 10 Linnets all going south while a single Grey Wagtail bucked the trend and went north. Three Sandwich Terns made their way out to sea, there won’t be many more sightings of those this year. No doubt if we’d have been able to get out a little earlier and stay out a little longer we’d have been able to fill a few pages of the notebook with passage birds...isn’t work a pain – oh to be independently wealthy!

We had an event on at a school near the nature reserve in the afternoon so we had our lunch there before going into class.

Two male Gadwall were with a few Mallards on the loafing area that was cut at the weekend. Both Cetti's Warbler and Water Rails called but remained unseen unlike the multitude of dragonflies which were seen but obviously not heard. Not a lot else was happening but a juvenile Cormorant posed nicely on the 'goal-post'. Is it possible to get juvvy Cormorants to subspecies? ie is the gular angle on this young chap wide enough for sinensis or is it too variable to be able to tell at this age.

After school we nipped down to the estuary for an hour as a Curlew Sandpiper was seen there yesterday. Lots of Lapwings, Redshanks, Golden Plovers and 'ordinary' Curlews but no small waders at all; no Ringed Plovers, no Dunlin, and certainly no Curlew Sandpipers - becoming a bit of a bogey bird this sesason...five Knot were the pick of the waders and a Little Egret was the first we've seen there for quite some time. we had a reasonable check through the gulls but saw no Mediterranean Gulls and couldn't turn any of the few Common Gulls into a storm blown Ring Billed Yankee.

Back at Base Camp a game of footy in the park with Frank before tea gave us our second Sparrowhawk of the day and the first Great Spotted Woodpecker in there for some time.

Where to next? More Patchy stuff - still hopeful of finding something a bit different in with the Common Scoters - something as simple as a Red Throated Diver would do!

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

Monday 26 September 2011

They came from afar

The Safari could hear a Peregrine calling before we had even got out of our pit this morning.
Once outside it was evident there were a few or more Robins about. We started to count and by the time we’d got round the whole of Patch 1 we got to over 20 with nine Blackbirds too.
Just one Peregrine was seen on the tower but an hour later on the way to work two were sat together enjoying the first warming rays of the sun.
Patch 2 wasn’t up to much with only the usual 3-400 Common Scoters on the sea. By lunchtime the only difference was that a Grey Seal was floating about with the Common Scoters. As we watched an impressive fire show from the flare gases of one of the rigs we noticed to spots in the scope moving around in a haphazard sort of a way. Sticking with them they eventually turned into two Swallows.
Out in the works garden these two little fungi have appeared and we are waiting for those clever iSpotters to identify them for us.

Whilst crawling around in the dirt getting pics of the fungi a pristine Small Tortoiseshell was nectaring on the Prickly Sow Thistles behind us.
Where to next? More of the same although the sea was flat calm this evening so counting and spotting should be a bit easier if it stays like that overnight.
In the meantime let us know what’s been coming ‘in-off’ in your outback.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Unexpected moth tick

The Safari set off quite hopeful to Chat Alley just after first light and soon had a couple of Pied Wagtails going past. But it was then a good while before we got anythng else. In the end all we managed to get into the notebook was 13 Pied Wagtails and two Wheatears - somewhat disappointing but given the clearish sky with only light high cloud probably to be expected.As a lower cloud front came towards us from the south, almost at the end of our walk, we started to pick up a few Meadow Pipits, nine in total with a couple more later in the morning over Base Camp.
The boating pool was disturbed by two idiots walking along the top of the perimeter wall - if only one could have slpped and fallen to their their lunacy had scared off the wader roost. Only 24 Turnstones and 16 Redshank had drifted back in once the numpties had gone.

Last thing to make it onto the page was a Grey Wagtail which is probably going to a winter resident down there.

The amount of litter on the prom this morning was a diabolical disgrace, when we've become Prime Minister a certain fast food cahin featuring a clown will be shut down and anyone found throwing bottles over the cliff 'cos it's fun to hear them smash to squizzillion pieces' will be shot on sight!

At first we couldn't quite make out an unusual item of marine litter. At first glance it looked like a Mermaid but then we noticed she had two legs widely spread...she was never going to need rescuing...just reinflating perhaps.

Once again the moth trap was pretty thin. Out came three Large Yellow Underwings and the first two Common Marbled Carpets of the year.

Better still was this Red Line Quaker a new addition to the Base Camp list - and a nicely marked little moth it is too.

After a bit of brekkie and a good bit of tidying up after last night's birthday bash...not so much Come Dine With Me as more Come Scoff With Me. Wifey did us all proud with a superb double tasty Greek selection so good if any Greeks had been present they'd have sworn blind they were back home...totally delish!!!! - we went down to the nature reserve to find the work party in full swing.
They'd already cleared the reeds from in front of the bird club hide! We went down to the far end to give whatever might have been there time to settle down and return.
A Mistle Thrush flew over, a Chiffchaff sang to our left and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called. The day was mild and there wwere plenty of dragonflies about including Brown Hawkers in tandem. The site has so many dragonflies it's a bit weird that there are so few Hobbys recorded - they're far from annual. most numerous were Migrant Hawkers and we also got a late Emperor. Butterflies were represented by a couple of Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals and several Speckled Woods.
More Meadow Pipits went over along with a small number of Swallows, later we had a single House Martin too. A pair of Kestrels were the only raptors seen until not long before we left when we saw a Buzzard giving some Crows a bit of grief away in the distance across the fields.
At least two dozen Teal were present and two male Gadwalls.
Back at the hide we had a Cetti's Warbler, one of three (possibly five) poking about on the freshly cut reed but not staying out long enough for us to get a pic. Two Water Rails also shot across the new gap giving good views.
Gulls were thin on the water, pick of them was a 1st winter Common Gull, whereas the fields held well over a 100 Woodpigeons and a similar number of Feral Pigeons, we only managed to pick out a single Stock Dove although had we had a scope we would probably have found a few more.
Later in the afternoon the Reed Buntings started to drop in to roost.

Well done to all the 'combatants' those reeds didn't stand a chance, much appreciated guys and we wish we were fit enough to join in but a week before a big op we weren't giong to risk doing any more damaged to the hands.

We would have been tempted to twitch yesterday's Lessser Yellow Legs just a bit to the north had there been any positive news but the Buff Breasted Sandpiper further north still was 'out of range' for this arvo although a car load did nip up for it once all the reeds were flattened. Two Yankee waders would have been very useful year birds in our challenge with Monika particularly with our enforced lack of birding looming large.

Where to next? Back to the patches and the Southside has had some good birds recently apparently so hopefully Patch 2 will turn something up.

In the meantime let us know who's hacking at what in your outback.
PS the yellow fungus in yesterday's post was ID'd as Sulphur Tuft and yet again is a 'first' for the Fylde - somehow the mycologists have missed us out!

Saturday 24 September 2011

Almost a summer's day

The Safari's Bat job was a success (or not; depending on which way you look at it). We found four bats of an unknown not new to science - just unidentified - in a top secret location you wouldn't expect to find them under normal circumstances.

The mothy was also on all night but when emptied this morning only held four Large Yellow Underwings and a Riband Wave. The best capture escaped, a darkish looking Ophion type Ichnumeon Wasp, didn't notice it camouflaged on the side of the trap and when we lifted the lid off it went.

We were at Chat Alley before dawn but there was nothing of note in the gardens/park areas. The outward leg gave us 20 Redshanks and 2 Turnstones roosting on the boating pool wall with another three Redshanks a little later heading down to join them.

The outward leg was pretty dire and there was nothing moving overhead despite the gentle southeasterly and plenty of cloud cover, even a few spots of rain now and then. We turned back at a pipitless Pipit Slab and went down the ramp to the lower walk where we immediatley found a couple of Pied Wagtails.

Another Pied Wagtail flew past us and we heard but couldn't locate another 'alba' Wagtail. Two more could have been the first two overtaking us.

Just before we reached the boating pool a movement above us alerted us to a Wheatear high on the artificial rocky cliffs poking around in scats of vegetation but successfully finding little somethings to eat.

The boating pool wall now had a better wader roost; 43 Redshanks and 23 Turnstones with another 13 Redshanks sat in the shelter of the lower ledge about half way round.

Just as we'd finished counting the waders a Grey Wagtail flew over and a little further on were two more Pied Wagtails but they could have been once we'd seen earlier. A hundred yards or so beyond them however was our first White Wagtail of the year...and not before time!

Another check of the gardens gave us a Blackbird, a Robin and a Dunnock all of which could well be resident birds.

Lunchtime saw us off around Patch 1 with Frank with a good start of two Speckled Woods on a very mild late September day. Nearby we came across a flock of Long Tailed Tits with a couple of Blue Tits with them.

Round the corner just before the park proper the Sycamore tree at the end of the hedgerow had a calling Goldcrest but try as we might we couldn't see past the foliage to locate it.

In thee park we looked at these fungi we noticed the other morning. Think they are Plums & Custard but not entirely sure.

This is the same stump that we found the Chocolate Tube Slime Mould on a couple of summers ago...a great find never seen anything quite like it.
These other musdhrooms are growing in the grass very close by, very likely on the dead roots below but again we've no idea what they are - Honey Fungus perhaps.

Not even sure if these two are the same species as the ones shown above, they were about two feet (60cm) away.

Hopefully those clever iSpotters will let us know what they all are.

The walk back gave us a the male Peregrine on the tower, a little unusual perhaps being the middle of the day.
Where to next? Mothy might well go on again tonight and tomorrow there is a bird club work party at the nature reserve which we'll probably pop along to unless the Buff Breasted Sandpiper puts in an appearance not too far away. Won't be able to do much by way of heavy work - we've got the date of our forthcoming fairly serious operation and looks like we are going to be out of action for all of October and November, perhaps even into the early part of December. Which means we're going to miss our ferry survey...b*gger!
In the meantime let us know whose doing all the work in your outback.

Friday 23 September 2011

Wot appn’d to the wind?

The Safari saw the two Peregrines on the tower before the sun came up this morning and there seemed to be a reasonable number of Robins ticking away from the Golden Triangle, Magpie Wood and the neighbouring gardens, unfortunately we didn’t get into the park proper for a full count...could have been a biggy too. The Magpies in Magpie wood are still uncountable.
Patch 2 gave us only Common Scoters which we struggled to count in the bizarre but awful light, probably about the same as yesterday; knockin on the door of 300 or thereabouts.
At lunchtime the light was worse if anything and a horrid weird haze hung over the sea. The tideline had two strings of gulls waiting for unwary Pipefish, both numbering about 100, one to the north of the outfall and one to the south. A juvenile Great Black Back tore the eyes out of the shredded remains of a largish Cod(?) while nearby an adult laid into a much smaller flat fish, a Dab?
Further down the beach only three Sandwich Terns were seen roosting while the first two Redshanks of the autumn fed in the large shallow runnel to their left.
Where to next? A Bat job this evening and with the wind turning southerly and dropping the mothy might well go on tonight followed by a visit to Chat Alley in the morning.
In the meantime let us know what the gulls are laying waste to in your outback.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Not quite windy enough

The Safari left Base Camp in the dark again and it was still breezy but it didn’t feel quite windy enough to produce the goods on Patch 2 later...or was it?
The first bird we heard in the darkness as we walked up the hill was a Peregrine squealing...not a bad start to the day.
Crossing over the first street we saw five Blackbirds hoping around on the pavement, not sure what they would be looking for there at that time of the morning – it hadn’t rained over night so its unlikely there would be worms or snails crawling around.
Getting round to the tower we could see one Peregrine on the usual ledge then walking a few yards more a second came into view tucked in out of the wind behind the cabling that runs down from the comms masts.
In the park we had another five Blackbirds and heard five Robins but nothing else. On the way back we peered into Magpie Wood where we saw some Magpies still asleep in the tree tops but there are still too many leaves to be able to make a proper count.
Over on Patch 2 the tide was just dropping off the base of the wall and the sea was quite rough but not rough enough it would seem. Despite the still stiff westerly the only birds out there were the 250 or so Common Scoters, again the closest flocks were grilled for Velvet Scoters to no avail.
A Sandwich Tern in the middle distance heading northwards was the only other interest...has all the good stuff disappeared after last week’s blow?...surely there must be some left-overs out there.
By the time we were able to get out at lunchtime the wind had dropped a little. Along the tide line was a short stretch of about 100 gulls all jostling for the best position. We saw a couple of them catch Greater Pipefish, which was far more exciting than looking out to sea. Further along the beach only five (what is it with the number five today?) Sandwich Terns took time out for a bit of roost before being disturbed by one of the many dog walkers.
The sea only gave us the ubiquitous Common Scoters...obviously there aren’t any left-overs out there; sun came out though...which was nice...
Where to next? Too windy and from the wrong direction of Patch 1 and not windy enough for Patch 2 so we’ll have to take what comes our way.
In the meantime let us know what the lucky number is in your outback.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

A bit breezy

The Safari could just about make out a single Peregrine roosting on the tower in the half-light of pre-dawn this morning. A bit of a wind picked up over night and there were a noticeable number of leaves blowing around on the streets, it won’t be long before we’re able to count the Magpies in Magpie Wood again, that’s if they can stand the smell of rotting grass from the dump the landscape grass cutting man has made over the summer; Magpie Wood is only about 400sq metres in area and this chap’s pile covers almost 10% of the area of under-storey habitat – if anyone else had done it it would be classed as fly-tipping but no, apparently he’s got nowhere else to dump his cuttings and it’s too expensive to take them away for correct disposal so he empties his mower in the wood gradually smothering the ground flora with a gross morass of smelly, slimy rotting grass – yuk. So much for woodland being a more valuable habitat than close mown amenity grassland of little biological interest...just make sure the latter looks ‘nice’ and the sh*te is out of sight out of mind even if it does smell a bit.
A few Robins ‘tick’ed and a couple of Blackbirds ‘chuck’ed and that was about it for the rest of Patch 1.

Last night on Patch 2 we had a group down in near darkness exploring the rockpools. It was a late start as these sunset pics were taken before we set off to see what we could find.

As it was the tide had only just left the wall and the recent storms have scoured large areas at its base leaving deep wide runnels which severely hampered access to the rockpools. The darkness meant that three Green Shore Crabs were footling around on the beach. Plenty of Brown Shrimps found their way into the nets but only one very small Common Prawn, hiding amongst the shrimps was one of the largest Sand Gobies we’ve ever seen. Other than that we found a few of the regular shells before we were totally enveloped by the darkness. We’ve never done shell searches by torchlight before!
At Patch 2 the tide was dropping but most of the beach was still covered. A line of gulls stretched out along the water’s edge looking to see if anything tasty might appear, with them two Great Black Backed Gulls waited to steal someone else’s breakfast.
Out at sea the wind had made it very choppy with a lot of white horses, consequently the Common Scoters were harder to estimate today so we stuck with a conservative 300 or so, some of which were very close inshore while there was also plenty of to and fro movement out towards the horizon. Whilst trying to count some of the nearer flocks more accurately two Ringed Plovers flew past; the highlight of the session...big wow!
Not much better at lunchtime, the only real difference being that it was even windier and the sea was swathed in 2 metre+ waves tumbling all over each other. Bird-wise the two southerly Ringed Plovers were replaced by a single Red Breasted Merganser going north and the beach held two small Sandwich Tern roosts of 7 and 10 birds with another four being seen battling southwards a good way offshore. No obvious change in the Common Scoter numbers although the heavy sea was making them fly around a good bit, sadly deffo no Velvet Scoters seen with the closer Commons and nothing ‘exciting’ from the seabird pages of the field guide to trouble the notebook.
Hopefully the wind will remain fairly strong for another day or so and we might see some of the more exotic sea birds we missed last week.
Where to next? Patch 2 looks favourite.
In the meantime let us know what the you hope the wind will bring to your outback

Tuesday 20 September 2011

A shock to the system

The Safari woke up to a dark – yes; a pitch black dark Patch 1...when did that happen??? – we were not impressed.! A shortened safari in the mizzle didn’t take us as far as the tower so we don’t know if the Peregrine(s) were up there still asleep or not. Two were up there in glorious sunshine yesterday morning, both enjoying a still warm breakfast.
Worse was to come as we drove to work with the lights on for the first time in a long time....can only go downhill from now...dare we say it...winter is approaching.
Conditions at the seawall were good on the dropping tide. A few gulls and Oystercatchers on the beach were largely ignored but we did see three roosting groups of Sandwich Terns on the beach, 16 and eight this side of the outfall pipe and two others sat together just the other side of it.
Out at sea the visibility was superb but there was nothing about apart from Common Scoters which were here there and everywhere numbering a difficult to estimate in the swell but around 500 or more.
The lunchtime safari was little different, a check through the not so many gulls gave us three Common Gulls and stood on the beach with the gulls were three Cormorants.
A roost of Sandwich Terns was disturbed by a bloke and his dog but they settled again a little further down, 21 of them with another eight, in twos, scattered a long he water’s edge and two more fishing out at sea – 31 in total not a bad count. Also seen at the water’s edge was a single scampering Sanderling. Where are all the small waders this season? The nearby estuary is totally lacking in Dunlin.
The Common Scoters were still out in force but there were no other sea-birds out there with them.
Where to next? Another bit of a hooley is on the way so hopefully something of interest might be blown in our direction. But before that we have an event on the beach and in the rockpools tonight.
In the meantime let us know if it’s the lights have gone out in your outback.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Toad in the hole?

The Safari had a short half hour stood in the back garden at Base Camp 'vis mig'-ing before making the traditional Sunday morning bacon butties.

By judging by what we had we probably should have been up at least an hour earlier! Hanging out the laundry we noticed a fair number of Meadow Pipits and a few 'Alba' Wagtails going over, so once that was all attended to we then counted properly and got the following...
Meadow Pipit 46

Swallow 11

Jackdaw 2 west, then one or more others heard - scarce overhead here

Carrion Crow 1,1,2 and 4 - the last group also had a Rook - a real bonus as these are rare here and was P1 tick #67

Siskin 2

'Alba' Wagtail 2

Greenfinch 1 went a long way southwards so possibly a migrant rather than a local bird

74 birds in less than 30 minutes or five birds every two minutes.

In the warm afternoon we started cutting more kindling wood ready for the winter and heard a Toad croaking, well it was sort of spring-like in the warm afternoon sunshine. We had a look round the pond but couldn't see anything. Then getting an old dog food bag from by the back door for the wood it felt a bit too heavy - inside was this chap all puffed up and stood on his stilts!

No idea how long the poor thing has been trapped in there but we let him go in the thickest vegetation around the pond.

By now vis-mig had totally tailed off and the only birds of note were two Swallows going north, nothing was seen or heard moving at all.

Butterfly interest was high-ish with singles of Red Admiral, Large White and a Speckled Wood.
Best sighting of the afternoon was undoubtedly the large dragonfly that shot past and landed on the other side of our neighbours fence - we could just see part of a forewing sticking above the top lath. Gingerly we approached with a pint glass but as we got to the fence we could see old Mr H asleep on his deck chair so probably not best to stick arms, glasses, nets etc through the fence in case we ended up giving him a hearty!

The dragon was a Brown Hawker and it was tucking into a large Blue Bottle type fly....a good find as dragons have been noteable by their absence at Base Camp this season .
Where to next? No work tomorrow but probably no safaris either as we still have the minor matter of the shattered Land Rover window to sort out although our Bro-in-law has made a good deal of headway but the right part still needs to be decided upon - just how many different glass carriers can one model of vehicle have???
In the meantime let us know how early you should have been out in your outback

Friday 16 September 2011

Last day in Welsh Wales

The Safari has just about come to the end of the Welsh sojourn. Today started dry but omminously cloudy.

We had an hour down by the river watching for non-existant Salmon, the fisherman we've met a couple of times was having no joy either. Three Goosanders flew up river and a couple of Grey Wagtails flitted around the rocks. other than the local Robins the wood s were pretty quiet...then the deluge began.

The village (Ganllwyd) show is on tomorrow and for most of the rain soaked day a team were getting the field ready for the event of the year.

There are a small number of A4 laminated sheets advertsing the show with all the exciting things for us to enjoy. Unfortunately it's all in Welsh and all we can read is cakes, jam and sheep, but there is much much more; well as much more as can fit in four small marquees and a bit of field, we're assuming the 'normal' farm sheep aren't cbeing judged - unless they sneak under the temporary fence.

Sadly we won't be able to enjoy what's on offer as we'll hve set off before kick off.

The tiny garden gave us a Nuthatch in the biggest bush in the corner which was good, but only the usual House Sparrows and a Blue and Great Tits with plenty of Swallows hawking over the sheep field, they're going nowhere in this weather.

Somewhere in the rain a Buzzard called from the woods up the hill and then from nowhere the chilp, chilp chilp of some Crossbills wsas heard from the sitting room, we dashed out side but didn't see them.

A great relaxing break away from it all but perhaps the wrong week with all the once in a lifetime goings on back on the Fylde coast.

Where to next? Back to Base Camp and staight to the coast after unpacking weird to have mobile phone reception we chaven't missed it at all...

In the meantime let us know what the mobile reception's like in your outback.

Thursday 15 September 2011

A grand day out.

The Safari went on a road trip round north Wales today. But before we set off we had a little look round the minimal grounds of our temporary Base Camp. Some of the hundred or more Swallows were sat on the roof here.

Along with the resident House Sparrows both have nested under the eaves.

It is autumn and the Swallows are spending a lot of time twittering on the wires in preperation for their long trip south.

Our long trip took us first to Betwys-y-coed where the river held a Goosander

It was a actively fishing and we witnessed some dashing dives after unseen prey.

We went past the famous Swallow Falls but didn't stop due to the fee charged for entry and the steep wet steps not suitable for Frank. The falls aren't that brilliant compared to the ones almost in the garden here.

Next we headed for Snowdon, or more correctly Yr Wyddfa in the native tongue, the highest mountian in the UK south of the Central Belt of Scotland. Here is Snowdon in the far distance - an impressive hill.

A much closer view point gives you the names and height of the hills - click to enlarge to read the text...bear in mind it's in Welsh so you won't be able to pronounce it...unless you are Welsh of course - wish we knew more of it cos some of our ancestors came from this part of the world with the slate for Liverpool's roofs.

Not where you might expect to find a Herring Gull, but the small car park at the view point has sandwiches and other packed lunch nibbles availableAt our next stop a friendly Robin begged for bits of Frank's biscuits.

The view was stuning but better was the Crossbills (195) in the Larches just on the right of this pic but sadly they kept themselves to the back of the trees and right at the top. Easy to hear but a nightmare to see well. This site is only a mile or so from temporary Base Camp but there are no Larches within sight of t-Base Camp.

Some other Welsh views - just for Warren. Some nice Ancient woodland on those hillsides!

Missed the two hills that look like volcanoes though.

Below is a short vid-clip showing the panorama from Lllyn Gwynant in the SW to the Glyder mountains across the Llanberis Pass from Snowdon.

In our younger days we'd have nipped up any one of those peaks in a jiffy, no longer possible sadly we might get over half way but not to the top now :(

Where to next? Spotted a chap almost deffo trying to get a pic of a leaping Salmon along one of the many patches of whitewater we passed so we'd like to see one!

In the meantime let us know who's looking up to the skies in your outback.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

The trees aren't moving!

The Safari has been walking in the woods today at a variety of sites. Not a lot to report from this morning but a Song Thrush was a new bird fro the list.

The rest was made up of Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Robins, Blue and Great Tits and a very close but unphotographable Nuthatch.

Below is one of the 'twigs' we had to dodge as they fell from 100 feet up during the storm.

The river is dropping every day, compare this pic from this morning with the one below from Tuesday afternoon.

A good four feet down now.
Not many birds were about at our next forest stop but we got a few Coal Tits and many Goldcrests. However this big fungus was spotted and has been identified as Dyer's Mazegill, never heard of it! but it is new for the 10km square we found it in! New? probably not - present but un-recorded much more likely.

'The King' we mentioned yesterday.

And the King's Champion - that's what it says on the sign post.

Along the trail there are 'interesting' array of 'interpretive' materials.

Looking up at the view, not bad ehh?

For the Frankophiles...there's a few of the big brown cholocalte numpty today - this was not long after he'd fallen in the river - totally sumberged himeself and went running to Wifey for reassuance.

Nearby there is a old bridge over a gorge known as the Deer's Leap - deer could make the jump but the following hounds (in the 15th C) couldn't.

Here he is again, this time on Tywyn beach just after he lost his ball and this numpty had to lose shoes and socks to go and get it, but it had already washed in and been retrieved by Frank before we got too far in - thankfully as the water in Cardigan Bay is officially freezing!!!

He found a friend...or a friend found him.

After the beach we cheaded inland to Craig-y-Derryn, Bird Rock, the only inland breeding cliffs for Chough and Cormorant...only there were none of either, just a couple of Buzzards playing on the updraughts...good job we got the Choughs yesterday.

Basking Shark back home along Chat Alley today - only one word AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH

Where to next? A safari into the mountains tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know what's been passing through your outback