Monday, 31 October 2011

7 billion and counting

The Safari and your good selves are now part of a population of a scary 7 thousand million; more by the time we've finished riting this guff. When will it end, or perhaps more worryingly, how will it end? When we entered the world there were a couple of handfuls less than 3 billion of us and almost 150 years since we passed the 2 billion mark! Another 3 billion within 40 years???
This is the biggest issue facing the planet today and hardly anypne mentions for politicians...well there isn't a barge-pole long enough. China has led the way for some time with therir one child family policy/dictat and India has added something to the  mix trying to ensue each male only fathers two children. A friend who recently visited central China noticed that there were now real social issues due to that policy. The schools were full of boys with very few girls, none of the children had brothers or sisters or even extended fanilies - how is this going to affect how their society operates in the not too distant future? 
How are the Indians going to be able to enforce their new law despite the threat of big fines and even prison sentences? Already the different religious groups have kicked up a stink, each scared that the others' followers won't abide by the rules and they'll be overrun, or worse - forced to convert - flippin religion; causes more trouble than it's worth!
Will any other nation take up the baton? Here's the current league table. Although this one might be more telling.
Every environment, habitat, region has its carrying capacity at any given time, we exceed those limits at our peril and the conditions governing those limits are always liable to change - eg current drought in the Horn of Africa and extensive flooding in Paistan for the second season in succession reduces the carrying capacity in those areas and there are many other regions too. Geldof  hit the nail firmly on the head when he wrote "thank God it's them instead of you". But our cosy Western carrying capacity is still there lurking furtively in the background almost wholly dependent on oil. Without the gooey black stuff would we have enough fertiliser, diesel for the tractors/harvesters etc and the trucks for distribution (that's if we ever distribute it fairly in the first place), electricity for refrigeration and other storage??? All gettin a bit scary so enough of this psuedo-political babbling it's time for you to discuss the issue amongst yourselves.
On a lighter note we got out for half an hour along the North Blackpool Pond Trail (southern half of the southern section). It was worth the effort and discomfort as the first bird we heard was a Water Rail screaming from the reedbed, the first we've ever heard there. From there though the walk went downhill with only a flock of c10 Long Tailed Tits, a grounded Meadow Pipit and a singing Song Thrush making it into the notebook.
Our main objective of the walk was to suss out the alternative vis mig site to Base Camp's 'garden in a hole' and Chat Alley and we have to say it looks good with a slightly raised elevation, some shelter and extensive views of the sky - shame the vis mig season is just about drawing to a close...will we remember it for next year?
Sorry no pics today, too dull and not enough action.
Where to next? Might be back later if any photo opportunities have arisen - don't hold yer breath.
In the meantime let us know what is at carrying capacity in your outback.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Cry freedom!!!

The Safari was at last able to play the 'get out of jail free card' today. As Wifey hit the shops with mother-in-law we were dropped off at the nature reserve with Frank for an hour or so...bliss, but it was a bit too much as there is a trickle of blood coming from one of the many stitch lines as we type.
So what did we see? Other than Frank diving into every mud filled  puddle, think he was glad to be out too, not a great lot but it was a beautiful day, rather too mild and sunny if anything.
Our first thought was to see if we could find any Jack Snipe that may have come in on the south easterlies, it's a bit early as some frost, that we haven't had yet, is usually needed before any are seen.
On the way we spotted a flock of 16 Long Tailed Tits flitting from tree to tree along the waters edge. With them were a couple of Great Tits and a Blue Tit, but nothing more interesting.
Over the bridge we had a quick look down the dyke for a Kingfisher, didn't really expect to see one and the dyke gad recently been cleared for the winter so bankside vegetation was lacking.
Within a few yards we heard a Cetti's Warbler singing. Sitting on the nearby form we watched the reed edge for any sign of a flit - none seen but a second soon answered it from a little way to the right. Between them a Water Rail squealed. Behind us in the field across the dyke  was a skein of at least a coupla hundred Pink Footed Geese, with them were between 20 and 30 swans we'd seen from the car on the way down but from the bench they were out of sight so we don't know if they were Whoopers or just the local gang of Mutes. The warmth brought out a few butterflies, all Red Admirals all going south and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly.
Short peeks in two likely Jack Snipe spots none were found but at the first there were more Migrant Hawkers and a pair of Common Darters were in tandem. 
Leaving the reserve we wandered round to the Long Eared Owls' favourite bushes. We stood and scanned and walked a few more places and stood and scanned again but like the Jack Snipe we really need a frost, this time not to bring them in but to drop the leaves so that they can be seen.
Not sure what has happened to the hedge, perhaps it has been cut to enable easier viewing, if not it ought to have been trimmed vertically or above the top rail at an angle rather than having its top ripped off...after all it is inside the reserve. Nearby we noticed a hole had been cut in the wire so that the dog walkers could take a short cut right past the owls...what's with dog walkers; why do they think they can take their mutts absolutely anywhere - especially where they're not wanted?
There wasn't much along the rest of the track with it being mid-afternoon. The feeding station was busyish with  the usual feederphile species; two Rabbits fed on spilt seeds alongside four female Pheasants.
Wifey was now ready to pick us up so we didn't get a chance to have look on the water, a shame as there were a fair few gulls present. Looked almost tropical in the afternoon sunshine...those reeds have really taken a hammering from the 40,000 roosting Starlings - should make spotting any Bitterns or Otters later in the year a bit easier though.
Central section of mere
Western end of mere
Where to next? Weather permitting we might get a short walk along the nearest stretch of the Pond Trail in the morning.
In the meantime let us know what you hope the frost will bring down.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Money money money...or lack of it

The Safari hasn't got any pics for you today. We've  been busy doing other things. 
Tried to get a bit of vid of the Magpie working out how best to attack the suet feeder without coming a cropper but it saw the camera poking through the kitchen window blinds and was off like a shot. It has now managed to cling to the feeder like a Blue Tit so we'll need to get a purpose built suet feeder cos it'll eat us out of house and home otherwise.
Little point in taking any still shots as they would have come out too dull and grainy in the typical autumnal conditions.
Little else of note other than it was good to see the Coal Tit still about. 
We tried to do some stop-watch timings of the handling times of the sunny seeds for the various species as mentioned yesterday but really that's a job for during the week when there are far fewer distractions.
Had a read of Mark Avery's blog (see link on sidebar) about the all new all dancing Natural Improvement Areas and noted that the original list of 75 has been reduced to only 12, one and a sort of half of which are within the Safari's 'area'. On paper they sound like a good idea and 7.5 million quid is being chucked at them - which on the face off it sounds like a reasonable sum of if it was 7.5 million EACH it would be a reasonable sum to do some serious work with BUT it's only 7.5 million BETWEEN them or put another way £625k, the price of a four bed detached house in any of those areas - in other words a pittance...and less than 10% of the annual spent on Bovine TB payments. Considering the size of the areas in question and scope of what could be achieved £7.5 mill wouldn't actually be that great a sum either. If they gave £10 mill to all 75 original areas it would still only be a little more than British Gas's last year's profit from its domestic customers, or just 17% of what BP intends to invest in the climate changing oil reserves of the North Sea!
"Greenest government ever" eye*
* feel free to substitute any other body part/area that may spring to mind.
Add to that the potential for some negative changes in the CAP there could be some tough times ahead for Britain's beleaguered wildlife...although with some clever thinking (and politicians accepting that) the new CAP has the potential to work very well - we just don't have much faith in the bods who'll end up making the decisions.
Don't even think about getting us started on the proposed changes to the planning system...sustainable development or a developers Charter (= free for all) ? One thing that should happen is that the Ecologists who do the EIAs should be independent of the developers (who would still have to pay for them but not chose them or even know who they are) and the scope of the EIAs should be wider and more robust. We're not knockin professional ecologists who are dedicated, well qualified  and often seriously underpaid just the system in which they are asked to work within.
Why the rant you might ask - well the Slavonian Grebe has reappeared  not far from the nature reserve and a pair of  lovely Snow Buntings are flitting around the base of the dunes a couple of miles up the road and either would do to reach our target but we're housebound...big :(
Where to next? Hopefully we might just be allowed an hour or so at the nature reserve tomorrow and we might see if we can wangle a detour to the Slav...if it's still there...what's left of any fingers we might still have are well and truly crossed.
In the meantime let us know who's spending all the money in your outback...or not as the case may be.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Numbers game

The Safari has at last been able to secure the services of a real expert to winkle out the info stored in the defunct dinosaur driven pc. When he saw what he was up against he nearly fell about laughing and said something like 'last time he saw one like it Noah was throwing it overboard cos they were no good!' Noah shoulda known better and taken it to be recycled rather than adding to the huge amount of marine litter!!!  
Anyway we have been able to update our lists:-
2011 - Still stuck on 199, one short of our target for this year
Patch 1 = 71
Patch 2 = 72
Garden =  44
and at the Nature Reserve we've now seen 91 species this year...don't think we'll get the opportunity to reach the 100 mark.

Base Camp this morning on a short vis mig session gave us only a Cormorant going NW, a female Sparrowhawk cruising low southwards over the gardens, a local bird perhaps, and one of the Peregrines was enjoying the early morning sunshine.
A bit of feeder watching gave us some unexpected observations. We noted that the Great Tits and Blue Tits take an individual seed away for 'processing - on a very rough average the Great Tits hare back in half the time as the Blue Tits. This would make sense as they have bigger beaks enabling them to eat the seeds faster and in being bigger have a higher energy requirement but can eat more seeds in a given time, so far all fairly logical...but the female Chaffinch that has figured out how to use the feeder doesn't use the same method of sitting there and stuffing her face like her cogeners the Greenfinches and Goldfinches, no she takes one seed away at a time for 'processing' under cover...But her return time is quite a bit longer than the Great Tits so how does that fit in with her energy budget - she's probably bit heavier than the Great Tits - interesting stuff; more research needed...and a stop watch!
The session was cut short due to a visit to the docs who has signed us off for at least another month.
Where to next? Might get out armed with the camera for a short while with Wifey and Frank over the weekend.
In the meantime let us know what's enjoying the sunshine in your outback

Never did find yesterday's missing pics, so here they are today.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Trial run

The Safari is playing around with the new puter so bear with us a while. Recent Base Camp highlights include a crackin Redwing in Wifey's Bird Cherry tree and a male Blackcap which was travelling with a lone Long Tailed Tit. Yesterday a flock of around 200+ Jackdaws went over. Two Peregrines are still lurking round the tower but our ringed Robin seems to have moved on being replaced by another unringed one which is much more adept at hanging from the suet feeder. Talking of which a Magpie that can't quite reach it from a perch launches itself at it taking a beakful as it tries to regain control before crashing into the garage wall.
The warm sunshine yesterday arvo had the Red Admiral out and avoiding the Sedum plant.
Enjoy some pics of a not so recent safari - can you guess where we've been?
Silverback at Virunga NP
Lemur sp - forgotten which
Weaver finch sp

Fleeting glimpse of a Black Rhino

Elephants having a drink - Uganda

Clematis seedhead at Base Camp

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

All go again

The Safari has been out of the www ether due to crashing pcs and other stuff but were back now as Wifey came home with a brand spanking new all singing all dancing lappo! Double wow!!! Wasn't expecting that at all - all we need now is learning how to use the mega-techy thing.
Back later...when we've sussed it...could be some time.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Where'd they all go?

The Safari's ideas of getting out either a little further afield or even in the garden at first light were thwarted by heavy rain.
Not a lot was happening in the garden,only four Goldfinches as opposed to the nine bustling round the feeders yesterday. We took Warren's advice and bought a couple of suet squares. A Robin was pecking away at it, when it had its fill it hopped briefly on to a nearby twig showed it had a leg iron - no chance of us being able to read it though. It's not often we see ringed birds at Base Camp.
Around lunchtime Wifey suggested a short trip out to the estuary.
One of the picnic benches sported a nice bright red fungus we've not seen before.

There were few birds about in the bushes, perhaps due to the late hour and the hoards of dog walkers.
One patch of bushes still sporting a few berries had a couple of Blackbirds and this Song Thrush, which tried as hard as possible to avoid the lens - got it, sort of, in the end.

Frank found plenty of mud and a few sticks and a puppy to charge round with in and out of the path-side pools, poor lad's shattered now!!!
There's a bit of autumn colour starting to brighten up the hedgerows now. This is a Guelder Rose bush - not a rose at all, the flowers, leaves nor fruit are remotely rose-like.

Where to next? Still hoping to give the 'new' vis-mig location a go...providing the weather plays ball.
In the meantime let us know how the colours are comin on in your outback.

Continuing apologies for any formatting issues - tryin Google Chrome today and it doesn't seem to be any better! :(

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Floodgates stayed firmly shut

The Safari was up 'n' at em well before dawn but with a stiff south-easterly blowing our hoped for hour on the coast after the tide was kicked in to touch. Instead we opted to watch the dawn from the garden.
The first gulls were illuminated from below by the streetlamps and from above by the crescent moon and Betelgeuse. before many minutes had passed Betelgeuse and the other stars were lost to the first hints of pastel blue beckoning the start of the new day.
A couple of Blackbirds swooshed about in the half light and a Robin twittered from some still dark undergrowth.
Starlings began to appear from their roost on the pier at 07.45, at first just small flocks but increasing in size to one of over 200 birds on the stroke of 08.00 counted was 470+. whilst keeping an eye out for the Starlings nine Redwings flew south, closely followed by an unidentified distant finchy-type thingy, result - things were on the move.
In the garden the first birds to rise was Blue Tit, followed by a Great Tit and then the Coal Tit. First onto the feeders for their breakfast were three Blue Tits.
After 08.00 we had only another 16 Starlings. Three unidentified thingies went over southwards, the last one called but we couldn't hear it properly as a noisy motorbike was going down the hill at the most importune moment.
A Mistle Thrush going over calling could have been a local bird and a Greenfinch likewise could have been a local.
It wasn't until 08.27 that our Goldfinches turned up - lazy stay-a-beds, then almost immediately the two, now regular, female Chaffinches appeared.
By 08.30 with little now happening and getting cold, bad hand was bluer than the sky by this time, we called it a day, or at least a morning...probably a good move as the low cloud disappeared with the sun leaving glorious blue sky. The wind had increased too so the chance of any vis was probably over.
A look at what PM and SE had been upto this morning made us realise that once again the birds were skirting round Base Camp, would have been chuffed with 1/10 of the numbers of Redwings and Chaffinches. Going to have to seriously think about giving that other location we decided last week might be good a go, perhaps tomorrow, or maybe Monday - both???
By lunchtime the sun had warmed a Red Admiral up enough for it to be battered round the garden in the 'breeze'.
Where to next? Have to see if we're allowed a trip to the new vi-migging location.
In the meantime let us know what's being battered by the wind in your outback.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Aww - it's just a scratch

The Safari got the bandages off today. Great to get some cool refreshing air on to the wounds.
Those of a nervous disposition should look away now...The lad with the knife seems to have done a good job; was his name Zorro by any chance? Despite having to almost sever our index finger to get the badness out the hand looks as good as it's done for a few years. Let's hope it stays that way, last year's op only lasted, well...a year!

All we need now is to get the feeling, movement and strength back- stuggling to get the cap off a pint of milk at the mo (seriously not good) and have you tried buttering toast one handed, shall we say, interesting, convoluted and time consuming. Be glad when we get back to two hand typin too, all this one-handedness m'larky is slow and uncomfortable; makes the 'good' (haha) hand ache and throb like a bar steward.

The line between the arrows 'A' is where they put some fierce hand splaying contraption on - really nips as this is about the only bit with normal feeling. Under there is yet more disease that'll need seeing to before long - possibly with the new flesh dissolving gangrene extract - can't wait!!!

So for the time being we're still only able to observe and record the coming and going of Base Camp.

This morning no vis-mig was likely on 25mph south westerlies with squally showers so the feeders were the main interest. Five Goldfinches broke the record for the repositioned feeders and while they were there the Coal Tit couldn't get a look in. Later there were seven Goldfinches in attendance, dunno if that's two more or twelve altogether.
The two female Chaffinches that put in a brief appearance were probably yesterday's.

Most of the berries on our Pyracantha have been chomped so Blackbird sightings are confined to furtive dashes through our cover on the way to and from next door's plentiful crop of windfall Pears. One seen sneaking around under the bushes was indeed one of those black-billed northern males.
Where to next? Looks to be some southerlies with a bit of east in them coming up so there is a good chance of some vis-mig.

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

Btw Blogger is still faffing abut with its formatting...grrr

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Safari has no idea wot happened to the formatting on yesterday's missive. We tried to add some feeder pics (not that good actually - another through the dirty windows effort) and blogger went haywire so we gave up in the end but not before even Wifey got totally frustrated with the whole shebang too.

This time last week we were counting down the days to 'cast-off' but it hasn't really helped we're still trapped within these four walls...maybe's bandage off day and we can get some air at the ferocious wounds. Although at tea-time we did manage to get out onto Patch 1 with Wifey and Frank, not much about but two Peregrines were on the tower out of sight from Base Camp and an unknown number of Long Tailed Tits busied themselves in the depths of the shrubbery at the Butterfly Zone. By the time we got there that was enough and the return journey seemed to take a throbbing age.

This morning we were hoping to do a bit of vis-migging but the rain soaked garden seat put paid to that. A few short looks out onto the sodden world did give us our first Base Camp skein of about 75 Pink Footed Geese, their sinuous V snaking across the steel grey sky.

Back in the garden it wasn't long before the Coal Tit joined the regular crowd, wonder if it's a local bird and will stick around for the whole of the winter. A Robin was a new visitor to the repositioned feeders but seemed a bit flummoxed as to how to attack it, or perhaps just didn't fancy the sunny seeds on offer.

A little later two female Chaffinches were enjoying the provisions - wonder how far they've travelled to be here; there's been huge numbers on the move recently. a Long Tailed Tit joined the throng too - making it a rare double figure species day at Base Camp...sort of gives some compensation for having a permenant wasp sting like pain in the finger tip, of a finger which is still totally numb and unable to discern hot or cold weird or what???

A Collared Dove sat hopefully on the bird table - deliberately kept devoid of food so as not to attract the attentions of the local band of Feral Pigeons...just by sitting there it did, two appeared within minutes. We note too that arch-rival Monika has begun to get the same 'problem'. Snazzy looking feeder she's put up, not seen annything quite like it over here.

Another grubby through the window in the gloom pic we're afraid.

A session in the now sunny garden was unproductive pic-wise, the morning feedind frenzy had waned, but the Grey Squirrel put in another appearance, avoiding the feeders but looking around the area they used to be. All Blackbirds seen this morning were 'normal' seems like the northern dak-billed ones have shot through leaving the last of our Pyracantha berries for the locals.

The warmish sunshine encouraged a Red Admiral to cruise around. The never seem to land on the Sedum flowers despite their reputation as a butterfly attractor...note the spider weaving its web; arrowed

The clouds came back and that was the cue for the butterfly to do a bit of basking - not on the aforementioned flowers but on a tatty bit of guttering...

It did allow close enough approach to get a couple of macro shots off in the cool of the cloud cover.

When the sun came ut we watched this Collared Dove - what a difference being outside makes to the pics - trying to work out how best to get at the bread we'd put in the fatball feeder...unlike Dean we didn't have any left over doughnuts.

Interesting to see the shape of all the primaries, something not normally obvious unless you're a ringer and have them in the hand.

Where to next? Well Blogger is coming up with all sorts of formating and pictue adding nightmares and driving us to distraction so it's gonna be publish and be damned...but if one of those northern Bullfinches lands on the feeders we'll be they pic little text at a time :-( Apologies if it looks like a dog's breakfast - we're past caring!!!

In the meantime let us know what doesn't attract what it's supposed to in your outback

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Not a lot to report

The Safari's shortest post perhaps?

The Coal Tit was back on the feeders early on this morning but was too quick for the camera. 'Normal' male Blackbird, Blue and Great Tits, Green and Goldfinches made up the day's only other sightings.

Talking of Green & Gold; what happened to Auistralia in the rugby at the weekend - played like England!!!

Where to next? Gotta be a better day with more to see tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know what's avoiding your outback.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

More wind

The Safari's first bird in the notebook this morning was a Coal Tit, far from a regular visitor although they did breed on Patch 1 only a few hundred yards away this summer. We probably only saw it because we've been able to reposition the feeder to a far better viewing location now that our Crab Apple tree has grown enough to be able to support the weight. Having found an old fat-ball feeder in the garage we might even dust that off and give it a go but last time we put them out nothing touched them - strange.
A challenging mid-morning watch through the hailstone covered window gave us a nice party of five Greenfinches, two Goldfinches, two Great Tits, at least three Blue Tits and the Coal Tit was still about. After reading about the dark billed male 'northern' Blackbirds we kept an eye on our yellow berried Pyracantha bush, next door''s red berried one has been stripped so now ours is in play as second favourite. We saw a 'normal' crocus yellow billed male, a brown winged 1st winter male and a female but are certain we had one of the dark-billed adults the other day when the Fieldfares were grounded but didn't think anything of it.
Up on the tower just one of Peregrines did its best to stay out of the worst of the weather.

Where to next? No chance of the hoped for seawatch so more of the same new feeder watching tomoz.
In the meantime let us know what's benefited from moving around in your outback.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Wind worsens...unless

The Safari didn't bother getting out early to have a go at any vi migging this morning as overnight the wind freshened to a brisk westerly - useless...unless of course there are some seabirds blown within range and with the cast off and stitches out we might just be allowed an hour or so's watch over the tide tomorrow arvo.
It's certainly getting new the time to tear down those walls

The new wind direction does bring the Peregrines back into play and two were sat up there on the lee-side this morning.

Back at the hozzy this arvo...d'ja really wanna know how many stitches...lost count at 24; looks like they've turned our hand inside out...the pain really starts tomorrow - we been 'invited' to attend a physio session...can't wait!!!

Where to next? Really, really hoping to get some pain relieving sea watching in tomorrow arvo.

In the meantime let us know what's stiched you up in your outback.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Misty mizzle drops some rares

The Safari lost all the script so this has now become edited highlights from our low vantage point at the kitchen door with a restricted view of the sky.

04.38 - rain started
05.56 - idiot began letting off fireworks - - why? What possessed him/her???
07.20 - started watching at kitchen door
Several gounded Blackbirds
10 Lapwings - Patch tick!!!
Song Thrush - first for ages
Fieldfares grounded in our Silver Birch tree
Redwings over

A male House Sparrow - first this year! with Long Tailed and other tits - almost better than a 'Yellow Browed Warbler'

Goldcrest, again in the Silver Birch

Small Tortoiseshell - fast south

Grey Wagtail bucking the trend and going west.

Red Admiral - the usual local one probably.

10.00 all over

Mid-morning we were allowed a short sojourn at the nature reserve on route to getting some rations in for Frank.

Still no 200th but we did find a Common Snipe - Jack Snipe would have been better.

About 75 Teal were on the scrape and a Cetti's Warbler sang close by.

Not a lot else and scans through the gulls only gave us Black Headed and a few Common Gulls.

Great to be out in the big wide world again, even if only for half an hour.

Where to next? Cast comes off tomorrow -hurrah - but that also means the stitches are coming out; how many d'ya reckon? 10-20, 20-3-, 30-40 or 40+ ......uuugghhhh
In the meantime let us know what the weather dropped out of the sky in your outback.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Missed it!

The Safari was hoping to get out of the house to twitch the local Slavonian Grebe which has been present for over a week - but guess what - yep; gone over night, so we didn't get to go anywhere in the end.

All that disappointment was slightly tempered by the fact that your's truly was first to the correct answer on the Autumnwatch Unsprung quiz last night...Wifey was miffed as she didn't realise our username had been called out rather than our real name and she missed it!

With family visiting this arvo home vis migging opportunities were in short supply, just a few minutes here and there between one-armed chores.

Beating Jackdaws to the page was a flock of five Skylarks, a record group for Base Camp, closely followed by a group of over 10 Redwings which disappeared behind the houses before they could be fully counted.

'Eventually' 10 Jackdaws turned up, heading NW for a change. After a few unsuccessful sorties outside we had another flock of Jackdaws, again going NW but about 75 of them this time!

A Red Admiral was seen several times enjoying the strong autumn sunshine as was a queen White Tailed Bumble Bee taking advantage of the still numerous Large Flowered Evening Primrose flowers and the local Mistle Thrush was yet again causing interference on next door's telly.

Our final sighting of the morning was of a small something which called a call we didn't recognise...almost definitely it would have been year-bird #200 and target reached but what was it? The call was a single cheuu, quite loud and of good pitch...sort of Little Ringed Plovery, which according to our Collins guide, suggests it was a Snow Bunting...another one that got away...

Little chance of getting out this arvo but a brief visit to supervise some winter logs being brought gave us a small flock of Pied Wagtails and the Red Admiral was still fluttering about.

Where to next? Hopefully we'll get a decent couple of hours vis migging at Base Camp in early tomorrow morning...with some decent numbers to show for our efforts and then we might actually get away from these four walls for an hour or so -hope so!!!

In the meantime let us know what was missed in your outback.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Sat in the middle of a birding void?

The Safari musta been in the birding equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle this morning.

Have a look at Heysham only 20 miles to the north and Fairhven, (see sightings for today - 14th Oct) 8 miles to the south.

Geez man...where'd they all go? Certainly didn't come over Base Camp, the stronger wind musta kept them tight to the coast over the other side of the hill and out of sight....

Got another vis mig site ID'd for when we're a bit fitter, might be getting a bit late by then though. It's one we've never tried before but is almost due north of the nature reserve where we used to record some good vis and due south of the 90 degree bend in the estuary...on paper (well OS map) it looks to have potential...and it is slightly raised has a bit of shelter and good vistas northwards so we should't miss much if there's anything this space.

Where to next? Wonder if we can scab a ride to Fairhaven for the lingering Slavonian Grebe tomorrow and get our 200 target up.

In the meantime let us know if all birds bypassed your outback today.

Different conditions make vis migging tricky

The Safari was up n at em shortly after 08.00 this morning. From the off we noted more east in the wind and it was a tad stonger than yesterday. This had the effect of changing the flight-lines of the passage and many birds were either too distant or too high to be heard above the noise of the rush hour traffic. We suspect that many will have been Meadow Pipits.

Anyhow, back to last night; whilst waiting for tea to finish cooking we had five minutes outside and heard a Blackbird and then a single Redwing going over, if we'd have been able to take Frank out later we'd no doubt have heard plenty more. In the distance, somewhere towards the school, a Grey Plover was heard.
Nice and mild last night too so it could well have been a good night for moths but no chance of us getting the mothy out

This morning we watched on and off until 11.00, more on than off!
Jackdaw - 2 SW - first in the notebook again!
Un ID - 20 all heading between S & W
Pied Wagtail - 7 all S except one NE - where was that one going?
Meadow Pipit - 10 in dribs n drabs
Sparrowhawk - 1m, it or another male seen later - see below
Chaffinch - 2 + 2 S
Carrion Crow - 3 + 1 + 1 all S
Goldfinch - 2 SE - local birds?
Garden birds:-
3 Blue Tits and 2 Great Tits visited the feeder together
One of the Mistle Thrushes was on the telly aerial again, left to the E.

Blackbird - 3 dropped into next door's garden from high to the north - a little later two and (probably) a second Mistle Thrush were flushed from there by what was possibly another male Sparrowhawk as this was seen off by a Magpie minutes later.
Female Greenfinch on the feeder + 2 S (locals?)
Dunnock - just one seen at the bottom of the garden today.

Our resident juvenile Herring Gull stopped by to see if any scram was on the garage roof - nowt for him today.
The Grey Squirrel reappeared briefly

With thicker cloud and a cooler gustier wind we retired indoors before lunchtime but to be fair the trickle had dwindled to a mere dribble so we doubt if we missed much. Every so often we had a couple of minutes outside but didn't manage to sully the page with any new records. No insects today, other than a few Wasps, suggests its deffo a degree or two cooler than yesterday.
Where to next? Weekend so who knows...doubt if we'll get any further than the garden though.
In the meantime let us know what's dribbling in your outback.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Better breeze brings birds to Bispham

The Safari faffed around for far too long doing not a lot in particular this morning. When we did eventually deign to look outside we saw that yesterday's Grey Squirrel had indeed seen the feeder full of sunny seeds and made a mental note of it.

As we waited for a better picture, through the now open window we heard a Meadow Pipit and that was our cue to chance sitting out in the garden.

It was now half past 10-ish, the temperature was an almost tropical 14C and our seat was nicely sheltered from the SSE breeze; light low cloud was interspersed by short spells of was a very pleasant autumn morning. Made all the more pleasant by what was about to unfold.
We hadn't been sat down more than a minute when a flock of six Jackdaws noisily 'jacked' southwards, followed shortly afterwards by a singleton. A Brown Hawker briefly buzzed over the pond, and the first of at least three dozen Meadow Pipits was heard, the biggest of the small number of flocks/groups we saw was only four, twice.
A different 'chack' had us look up and count 41 Fieldfares and during the session we had another three flocks of 27, 90-ish and 31. Apparently 'thousands' of winter thrushes had arrived at Spurn Point on the east coast yesterday and were expected over this side this morning. Good as these were, the season's first for the Safari, they were easily pipped off pole position when the cronk of a Raven was heard. We watched it cruise past calling all the while and it even gave us a tumble and roll for good measure - dream stuff and only our second record for Base Camp.

Finches were thin on the ground (aka in the air) - perhaps missed by being out too late - and represented by only two Chaffinches going south and two Greenfinches going east, the latter could well have been local birds rather than migrants.
An unidentified butterfly flitted through the garden a couple of times and was probably the same Red Admiral that we've seen over the last couple of days. The warm sunshine brought out a few hoverflies, including several Episyrphus balteatus (pic from August)and this Eristalis sp (tenax?) taken today.

With almost all the berries on next door's Rowan now devoured there was a notable lack of Blackbirds although the local Mistle Thush did put in an appearance but didn't stay long...amazing how a bit of light can improve yer pics!

The gulls alerted us to a very high and chunky looking raptor which wasn't identified until it got much nearer, a bruiser of a female Sparrowhawk that had us thinking/hoping of something beginning with 'G' for a while! Not long afterwards a much smaller male circled by at a much lower altitude.
After nearly two hours the birds dried up a bit so we had a bit of lunch before going out again.

Like the morning, the start of the afternoon session gave us a Jackdaw almost straight away. A few more Meadow Pipits went past but it was fairly quiet.

The feeders, untouched while we watched this morning attracted a couple of Blue Tits and a Great Tit called nearby.
We thought we heard a Goldcrest calling from the bottom of the garden but couldn't see it...a very cautious venture up the garden path (a trip or slip could have been disasterous) had us only finding a skulking Dunnock.
Now that the wind is in the south it is much harder to see the Peregrines; we could just about make out half a one hidden behind the cabling on the north face of the tower. There could easily have been another as only a yard further round would have put it out of view.

By mid-afternoon it was a steamy 16 1/2C and the butterfly came cruising past again - yep; it was the Red Admiral all along.

Two slight, and identical looking, pigeons flew past southwards and into the light, something about them said Stock Dove but sadly they were unclaimable - woulda been been a humdinger of a garden of those occassions when the sky watching seat would have given much longer views in better light for a clincher one way or the other.

Another 'jack-jack' alerted us to what we thought was another flock of Jackdaws going over but it was just a singleton - how do they manage to sound like there's 10 of them when in fact it's only a flock of one?

Wonder what we missed by not getting out a couple of hours earlier...also seriously need to get that sky watching seat (= observation platform) built on the garage roof - would improve the vista no end being another 10 feet/3 m higher and not sat down in a 'hole' as we are now.

That lot took some serious typing with 'good' hand so if the same thrills and excitement happens tomorrow you'll just be getting a simple list.

Where to next? Gonna try to get that laundry in - it's been on the line a full 10 days!!! Should really wait for Wifey just to be on the safe side...better not rain before she gets home!!!
In the meantime let us know what's sitting on the lines in your outback.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Still the wet stuff falls

The Safari is getting pig-sick of the wet stuff despite not being able to get out in it! Makes even simple thigs like lookin ou of the window hard work.
Yesterday arvo we heard a bit of Blackbird commotion and saw a bit of mobbing behaviour from them. At first glance we thought they might have found a Sparrowhawk but close inspection saw them defending 'their' Rowan berries against a marauding Mistle Thrush...fierce they were and it eventually moved on without getting any where near the booty.
A Red Admiral was also seen yesterday in one of the brief interludes in the rain.
Today our bro-in-law came round to have a look at the Safari's defunct PC can be brought back to life...hope so cos there's a lot of records on there which could be lost for ever - shoulda made back-ups of EVERYTHING - and proper good old fashioned paper copies too...and it's got better photo-processing software so if the pics have been abit iffy recently (excluding the ones through dirty windows) that's the reason why - Wifey's rinky-dinky laptop's screen isn't ideal for seeing how a pic actually looks.

Early morning gave us just one wet Perergrine sitting on the ledge and the number of Blackbirds around the Rowan was a little down on yesterday.

By late morning the buff-fronted bruiser of a juvenile Peregrine had joined the first and once the rain had eased we took some sunny hearts up to the feeder...spilt half of them but they soon brought in a stonking male Greenfinch and a flock of four Goldfinches. The spilt seeds attracted a real rarity - two Collared Doves; not seen the in the garden for months!

Another 'first for alkong time' was this rather soggy looking Grey Squirrel - always nice to see but boy we we so much rather have the Reds of our youth in the garden. Luckily it passed through without finding our feeder and went for next door's (other side to the Rowan) bumper Pear crop - just hope it saves some for the thrushes as the neighbours just let them fall.

Shortly after the Grey Squirrel had left a lone and totally solitary Long Tailed Tit passed through the garden and like the squirrel successfully avoided the feeder.

The Mistle Thrush returned to the tree-top where was sat yesterday and again was immediately mobbed by a Blackbird, but this could have been a decoy ploy as there was second already in the Rowan scoffing berries like there was no tomorrow.

It saw us and was off in a flash leaving the way clear for the Blackbirds to reclaim their stash.

Cor was all app'nin at Base Camp today!!!
Where to next? Same place but who knows what'll be out there...less berries for sure but better weather is a distinc possibilty at long last...may some vis...or Redwings over in the

In the meantime let us know who's acting as the decoy in your outback.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Yet another dingy day

The Safari had a pleasant surprise yesterday tea-time when we looked out of the kitchen window and saw two Blackbirds and two Mistle Thrushes in next doors berry laden Rowan Tree. Almost definitely migrants that ha been on the move between the many bouts of heavy drizzle.

Also skulking about was the first Dunnock we've seen for some time and far less skulky a Robin on the tumble-down shed in that garden and a rather grey looking Great Tit in the herbaceous border.

This morning loomed dull, grey, gloomy...and raining of course. A single Peregrine was sheltering as best it could on the tower while an adult and a juvenile Herring Gull polished off the last of the bread we threw on the garage roof last night.

Not the best of pics taken in the dark, single handed through a wet and salt encrusted double glazed window.

The adult did hop up on to next door's garage roof which is a bit closer...think you can just about make out it is a Herring Gull.

Later there were two wet Peregrines sitting on the ledge...sounds like a line from a kiddies counting song!

Later still we saw one of the Peregrines leave the tower and fly almost directly overhead. Alarm calls of a Blackbird led us straight to the berried Rowan tree where there were a minimum of seven and possibly double figures coming and going! Certainly a bit of a fall. Again the pics aren't going to win many prizes.

At any hint of danger or with a full crop they'd fly to the big Sycamore where we flukily found a Blackcap - a good bird for Base Camp these days since the tree is much more isolated since the removal of almost all of its neighbours.

A Blue Tit cheekily snuck into next door's garage through a gap betwween the ridge tile and the top row of Rosemaries - we didn't see it sneak out again
Two Robins squabbled and more Blackbirds dropped in.
A slight improvement in the light gave a very slight improvement in the quality of our pics.

Where to next? Only six days of plaster-cast left...and counting

In the meantime let us know if there's been a fall in your outback