Monday 30 April 2012

No two days are ever the same

The Safari woke up to sunny sunshine and it was already a good bit warmer than yesterday afternoon. What a total contrast barely 12 hours later.
On the very short patch 1 walk we had a Willow Warbler singing from a garden on the other side of the road and on a variation of our drive in we had another Willow/Chiff in a garden whilst waiting for some traffic lights to change.
We hit the Prom just before R’ouzel Puddle – nothing in it today apart from about twice as much water and it was joined by several other potentially interesting migrant attracting puddles, wonder how temporary they’ll be and when they dry out will they leave a patch of gooey mud?
We went straight out with the scope and got some great views of 10 Gannets diving not too distantly as well as a similar number of Sandwich Terns, some of which were courtship feeding on the beach which is always good to see. Right down at the start of the wall there was a Wheatear flitting about (P2 #67). We later found out that earlier had been better with Little Tern, Little Gull, Manx Shearwaters etc and a FLOCK of five Little Egrets – WOW!!! Which were also seen at the northern end of this stretch of coast.
A shimmy down the slade a little later to see what the beach access was like gave us two ‘alba’ Wagtails overhead which annoyingly would drop below eye level and a flockette of Turnstones including this one in its full summer regalia.

Our group on the beach found most of the usual goodies, Edible Whelk, Pod Razors, Common Razors, Rayed Trough Shells, Banded Wedge Shells, a Tower Shell, lots of shed Green Shore Crab skins, a predated Thin Telin, Edible Mussels 

and a few Common Prawns
 ....look at the colours on those legs! 

Hornwrack and Sea Slug eggs aplenty with Spiral Wrack, Egg Wrack, Gutweed, Purple Laver, and Sea Lettuce representing the seaweeds. On small blob of seaweed had a tiny Beadlet Anemone attached which when placed in the tray opened its tentacles much to the delight of the children and adults present. At the very end of the session one family ventured a little further away and came back with a small Common Sand Star which we initially thought was dead and dried up but then showed a little sign of life by putting out a few of its tube-feet. 

We put it back in one of the pools and within a minute or so it was off at high speed to find a safe place to shelter until the tide came in. 
Then one of the children spotted something moving on the seaweed, at first we couldn’t see it but the boy was adamant and we followed his finger tip to a tiny beetle about 5-6mm long. It looked a bit Ladybird like but unlike any species we knew. A couple of pics for iSpot were taken and the ID came back from them very quickly before lunch was over...Sphaerium sp. A terrestrial beetle with a penchant for animal dung...almost definitely blown to the coast by the strong easterly winds recently...or is it another migrant moving along the coast.
Also while we were out we heard a Whimbrel (167, 68) call out along the tide line behind us.
A quick munch of our butties and we were out again ditching the nets and trays for the scope but not a lot was on the now fallen tide. Best was a Common Sandpiper (168, 69) feeding away down the far end of the wall near where the Wheatear had been earlier, a really good Patch 2 sighting.
Swallows were going through all morning but we didn’t get any House or Sand Martins and no Swifts for us yet either.
A strange sounding Chiffchaff going wee-chuu wee-chuu rather than chiff-chaff chiff-chaff; another Patch 2 year tick (70) and indeed a Patch 2 lifer!
Where to next? Tomorrow is the first day of Compost Awareness Week – at some point during the week we will be taking a tray of kitchen waste to the composter for the worms to feast on.
In the meantime let us know what's scuttering to shelter

Sunday 29 April 2012

The safari that never was

The Safari bottled out of going on safari this arvo. The temperature dropped to a seriously cold daytime 4.8C which combined with miserable driving rain meant we stayed very close to Little Bertha

Early this morning, between Frank's first and second breakfasts, an Oystercatcher was heard as it flew over the garden, or at least very close by, bringing the garden list to 33.
This afternoon was spent faffing around on the puter and staring out of the new windows at a few Greenfinches at the feeders, a regular visiting Woodpigeon and a great Blackbird fight.

Any one know the best way to present dried Mealworms to the Great Tits which are nesting in our House Sparrow terrace; seed feeder?
Where to next? Would you believe it, one forecast is giving a top temperature of 17C here tomorrow!!! Good job we've got an event on the beach in the morning.
In the meantime let us know if the rain eased off in your outback.

Hardly spring, is it?

The Safari is sat here mid morning with a strong wind blowing cold sleety rain against the windows when we ought to be out on safari in warm spring sunshine.
We think we know why this has happened...we had French doors fitted last week just right for throwing open on warm balmy summer's evenings. BBQs are on us!!!
Fitting the doors wasn't a problem, fixing the mess the previous owner of the house, aka DIY d*ckhead, had made of the plastering inside the bay has taken our Extreme Photographer/Builder all week to straighten up and not helped by some of the original brickwork being done by the apprentice joiner on a Friday afternoon without supervision by the look of it...oh the joys of home ownership. Anyway its right now and we are the proud custodians of the best oak window sills in the county -FSC of course - and if any future occupant of Base Camp dares to paint them heaven forbid we'll come back and haunt them!!!
Should look good out there once the pots are planted up and the trellis covered in Clematis and Roses.
One benefit of having to have a total strip down was we were ale to get some insulation in the little bay roof - hot air rises you know and went straight out through the holes in that bit of roof. Now all we need to do is insulate the void under the floor without rotting the joists and floor boards. Sheep's wool batts would probably be best but have you seen the price of what is essentially a waste product for many farmers? Failing that something made out of recycled pop bottles might do the trick.
Just had our gas & electric bill and it's scary even though we renegotiated with the supplier to get on the best tariff. Apparently the 'average' electricity usage per year for a working couple (in 2001) is 4100kWh - crikey we think 3400kWh is too high, bearing in mind we have a 50W pond pump running 24/7 and replaced an old inefficient fridge-freezer with a modern AAA rated one but promptly put in the garage to store - wait for it - Frank's frozen swede (the bulky fibre part of his diet to stop him getting fat :-0). The new fridge might be more efficient and fits in the same space but is tiny inside and holds less than half as much! Best thing elecrtrickery-wise we did was to replace the kitchen spot lights 6 x 60W with energy savers 6 x 15 W, expensive at a tenner each but after a eighteen months they've paid back about 2/3 of their capital outlay. Still like to get below 3300kWh for the year though.
Gas is a bit of a different and trickier to work out the annual usage as we use far more in winter (and April - this April 42 units last April 15 units!). Overall gas usage at Base Camp has plummeted from high 400s(15,000kWh) a year to low 300s (c10,000kWh) even allowing for a the coldest winter in living memory and another pretty cold but not so prolong cold snap - reason; cavity wall insulation and more far more effective replacing the open fire (used a supplementary heating) with Little Bertha. 

The efficiency of Little Bertha is about 85 - 90% whereas the open fire was 15 - 20% and when it wasn't lit the chimney just sucked warm air straight out of the house. Also we now use sustainable (we hope) wood (lots of waste wood from the recent works) and hardly any carbon-rich coal whereas before we were using mainly coal with wood as a top up. New insulated front door helped too. It's still far cheaper to keep yourself warm with a thick wooly jumper than keep the house warm!
Anyway enough of our carbon footprint, which is going to double as soon as we set foot on the jet to Australia - let's head out on safari - -  in the cold wet spring wind and rain.
Where to next? A quick dash round the nature reserve seems favourite.
In the meantime let is know how you've reduced your carbon footprint.

Late Edit - Just been out with Frank at 1.00pm and the temperature on the thermometer is showing a meagre 5.7C, the long term average daily maximum for April in Blackpool is 11.5C - Global Warming No  - Climate Change Yes!
And we saw our first Hedgehog of the year last night - mammal #12 but still no Porpoise

Even later edit - 3.00pm and now the temperature has dropped to a very chilly 4.7C and still raining hard - - no chance of any safari-ing today. Really feeling for all those Swifts, Swallows and martins that arrived yesterday.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Back in from going back out

The Safari went out to get some habitat pics for a school session we've got next week. We had a look around the area just north of the nature reserve, some time soon we'll have to have an early morning for the Barn Owl here. A fair few Willow warblers, males singing like billy-o sorting themselves out because the females haven't arrived in any numbers yet?
A Whitethroat was on one of the hedgerows with a few Chaffinches and we missed the perfect Chiffchaff picture opportunity due to yakking with another dog walker with a Labrador.
In the horrid cold wind nothing much was moving at all.
With a bit of time to spare we had a sprint round to a local farmland feeding station where we hoped to get some pics of the Tree Sparrows
It was lively enough with a camera shy Moorhen being the first bird seen on the seeds.
Here's a Robin eying up the best titbits

 The perch has been put there deliberately and what a good job it does every bird lands there to suss out what's on offer.

Black sunny seed going down a treat.
 Not another on 'the' perch!
The Dunnocks and a Wren didn't use the perch they just appeared at the bottom of the hedge and snuck out.
There were Tree Sparrows around but they would leave the middle of the dense hedge and land on the perch. They were just about thinking about it when a gang of trucks turned up and started setting up for some seismic testing for the nearby gas fracking m'larky. With no chance of anymore pics we headed back to Base Camp and a much needed warming cup of tea.
At Base Camp Wifey's pet orchid has flowered again

Where to next? Somewhere interesting tomorrow hopefully.
In the meantime let us know who's perched up in your outback.

Anyone any good with micros?

The Safari took no more than two minutes to empty the moth trap this morning. When we went out the thermometer was showing a blistering 4C so we weren't expecting much. Suffice to say there wasn't a lot in there.
A Hebrew Character...isn't there always?
And this little devil...which we ought to know! He was quite golden when the sun shone briefly
And a Double Striped Pug

 This last one taken through the side of the pot gives the most realistic colours!
We've just indulged ourselves and ordered this so hopefully our micro ID will improve a little.
We posted this plant last June and came across the pic again yesterday so decide to put ity on iSpot for an ID. Well as you can see they came up with Seaside Daisy which is a North American plant introduced about 150 years ago...still horrifically rare up here though the North Lancashire Flora tells me it has only been recorded in three tetrads in North Lancashire, all nearby, but not since 2003!!!
Last footy of the season this arvo - well almost, as barring a major upset 'Pool will be in the play-offs but who will they play? Can they beat them? Will they get to Wembley? Will the get back in the Premier League?
Where to next? Off out to photograph some hedgerows - back in a bit.
In the meantime let us know if you dared lift the lid on the moth trap in your outback.

Friday 27 April 2012

Redstart ships out?

The Safari had a Willow Warbler singing half heartedly from a garden on the now usual much foreshortened Patch 1 walk. We didn’t see anything at R’ouzel Puddle on the way to work, that’d mainly be due to the dog splashing about in it!
The sea looked nice and calm so we got the scope out quickly and headed on out, but went ‘round’ the back’ and had a few minutes listen and shuffy round the Tamarisk bushes – nothing – not a peep out of the ordinary and nothing more colourful than a Dunnock.
The sea was similarly empty. It took a few scans to find anything at all and that we only a small flock of five Common Scoters. Scan as we might we couldn’t find anything – where were all the Arctic Terns that have been turning up all over the place? There...there they are...coming out of the estuary we picked up a flock of thirteen which made their way steadily northwards. Not far behind were three Sandwich Terns which blogged about and started fishing in front of us. Beyond them in the shimmery distance three Gannets cruised northwards. Hardly over exciting!
During the morning we had a few brews and at each venture down the corridor towards the kettle we kept an eye out through the windows and while the tea was brewing had a quick walk round but no joy. We did hear a couple of little rattles which could have been the first part of the Redstart song but nothing conclusive.
At lunchtime we spent a bit longer looking and listening to no avail. So back out to the wall it was.
That was almost to no avail too until we heard a Ringed Plover calling below us. It was doing the ‘bat’ display flight round and round a large pool left by the tide and eventually landed at the far end of it. All rather futile as the tide was rising and the pool was about to become full blown sea! Great to watch though, still have the notes from the first time we noticed this behaviour way back in the early 70s!
Scanning the sea was proving hard work until we found the dot of a Grey Seal’s head in the distance to the south. About to give up and go Redstarting again we spotted a large bird being harassed by a young gull. They were distant and the shimmery light was awful but we stuck with it as it looked as though it was going to turn in to something worthwhile. Eventually the gull forced it to dive below the horizon and against the better contrasting background of the sea we saw it was a male Marsh Harrier (166, 66)...not the first we’ve seen from here but very nice all the same. The gull gave up the chase and the harrier continued to fly due west straight out to see for some considerable distance before it turned due north and was soon lost to view in the haze.
All this nonsense goes to prove the old adage that good things come to those that wait, or we should have stayed out longer and got loads more...did we hear a distant Whimbrel at one stage???
A quick blast of footy with Frank at tea-time gave us a Blackcap singing in the Golden Triangle. And this vandalised Ash tree...
This is a posh(ish) estate and we need to get some tree planting done nearby and not with just cheapo 10-a-penny whips.
Where to next? Weekeennnnnnddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And we need to get some pictures of hedgerows for a school habitat project so we’ll be on safari somewhere.
In the meantime let us know what the gulls are harassing in your outback

Thursday 26 April 2012

As elusive as an elusive thing from Elusivesville

The Safari didn’t see anything on R’ouzel Puddle this morning but a dog walker had just walked past so there’s a small chance we might have missed something. That’s the only problem with it; it is right slap bang in the middle of dog walker central.
Once in the office we got the scope out of the draw while the computer was taking its usual age to boot up and we meandered down the corridor with thoughts of cetaceans on the flat calm sea. We didn’t get as far as the first set of doors! The Redstart from yesterday was still here; no doubt forced to stay another day by atrocious overnight weather – there it was only 6 feet (2m) away on the other side of the window! Luckily the windows have a mirrored finish and it couldn’t see us – back to the office for the camera we scurried. It was a little flighty and hopped around all over the place but eventually settled on the path for a poor record shot before yet more dog walkers appeared and flushed it.
We went outside but couldn’t relocate it so headed for the sea wall. Our quarter of an hour staring at the sea gave us precious little, a Gannet, six plus one Common Scoters and three Sandwich Terns.
Meanwhile back in the gardens the Redstart must have been moving around a bit and from our desk we heard it calling! Looking round it was just there outside the office window but again a grab of the camera was too slow. We went out and had a look but got only the briefest of glimpses. 
A local birder appeared and we had the briefest of glimpses seemed as though it could hide behind it’s own shadow or at least  had a Romulan cloaking device (thanks to CR for this info not knowing much about Romulans, Vulcans or anything else Trekky ourselves) or perhaps could even morph itself into a Dunnock 

 or Pigeon

Lunchtime came and more birders arrived and though there were many eyes watching and we saw where it went could it be found in the tiny patches of Tamarisk? No chance, maybe it’s befriended the Rabbits and goes underground! Tbh we’ve never know anything so brightly coloured to be so invisible!
The rain started to come down and the birders left, we’d run out of time so went back inside giving the rising tide a miss today, could have been good too, one of the birders had seen a few Arctic Terns earlier in the morning.
If there’s no improvement in the weather our little friend could well be still here in the morning but if you do come down for a shuffy bring a shed load of patience with you and steel yourself for the briefest of flight views.
Where to next? We'll see if we can avoid the lure of the Redstart and watch for some serious tern passage.
In the meantime let us know what's luring you away for doing 'proper stuff' in your outback.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Shocking weather produced THE bird of Patch 2...ever

The Safari's drive to work was interesting with an 'alba' Wagtail in the puddle where the alleged R'ouzel was, for once in a blue moon we were in Wifey's car and sat too low down to be able to see it  properly...but another one goes on the R'ouzel puddle list. After a few minutes in the office we braved the soon to land with a vengeance weather and was out on site with the Rangers and super local naturalist MS. We were looking for recent signs of the Water Voles and invited him to come along to search for Common Meadow Rue a plant that is so common round here that any site that has it automatically qualifies for County Biological Heritage Site status.
We donned the waders but the prospect of getting in the rather full and uninviting looking ditch didn’t appeal...and that water was cold! we checked for feeding signs from the top of the bank occasionally slithering into the slimy shallows for a closer look and/or to retrieve a specimen of chewed grass. We are pleased to report that the Water Voles are still in situ and we found signs right into the depths of the adjacent area too.
While we bumbled around the ditch and had a shuffy across the field MS checked out out the rough area for Common Meadow Rue – yes he found it...he found in spades not just hanging on in this part of town but obviously finding it to its liking and doing very well thank you!

Next time we go alooking in this area they should be in flower and a full six feet (2m) tall and not so easy to step on/over
Our turning over of things gave us a few Frogs, one Toad and one Short Tailed Field Vole, with evidence of recent activity by several more voles but no snakes, lizards or newts.
One thing we did find that we weren’t so chuffed about were these tiny fry in the amphibian/snake pond. We hope they’ll only grow into 3-Spined Sticklebacks and not anything larger with a bigger mouth and appetite – the Sticklebacks are bad enough as we know only too well from the pond at work (Still at least seven remaining uncaptured in there!).

Only inches from where the fry were hanging out the Ranger found this...

Bingo double bingo – a Great Crested Newt egg. Further searching didn’t give us any more but they must be there somewhere! Not a bad morning’s work and our 'candidate' CBHS must surely now be declared as the full monty!
Not content with all that joy we pulled up a wet work, the promised rain had now started in earnest, and heard a hweet call from the bushes in the garden. Luckily we had our bins with us as a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff would be a good bird here. But it was seriously better than that, our ‘hweet’er was a cracking male Redstart tucked away under the Tamarisk bushes hopping around on the floor poking about through the woodchip. What a great bird for Patch 2, (#65). Unfortunately we got the camera too slowly and it did a flit and wasn’t seen again despite some searching in between the showers/downpours. Wasn't expecting to see two grounded migrants of this species within a few days  of each other that's for sure!
At lunchtime – yes  all that happen before lunch! – we met up with our friend from the sanddunes for a bit of sea watching. Not a great lot going on with a strong easterly wind and ropey weather although a few Sandwich Terns were diving not too far out and a single Guillemot was a little further away. Much better was the Grey Seal only 50 yards off the wall. We dashed back to the office for the camera but it must have got wind of our intentions and by the time we’d got back – 2 minutes – he’d done a bunk and wasn’t seen again. It’s not often we get close encounters like that, usually a seal is just a dot in the distance.
Where to next? Just checked the weather and more overnight showers and easterly winds are forecast so what might be in the Patch 2 garden tomorrow
In the meantime let us know what vivid coloured thing brightened up your outback.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Fun in the sun...well nearly!

The  Safari could have gone to twitch the 'Herring/Glaucous Gull hybrid thing' (aka Viking Gull) this morning had we looked at the Fylde Bird Club's website late last night or early this morning but we didn't but opted for a full morning at the nature reserve with thoughts of all manner of spring migrants.
All was remarkably quite again with just the regular Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers proving spring, or at least a bit of it has actually arrived. A Grasshopper Warbler fired up just as we were passing but it was reeling from deep in cover and so well out of  view.
Along the track we could see a gaggle of birders hanging around in a likely looking spot so we made our way to join them and eventually heard the rattle of the Lesser Whitethroat (165,85). It was some time before it showed itself giving fleeting titillating glimpses deep in the bushes and half a glance as it flew from one bush to the next. It did briefly sit out on the sunny side of a Hawthorn bush but within a second or so darted back in.
Another birder came round and told us he'd had a white Wagtail and a few Wheatears in the recently ploughed field. Before going down that way we decided to have a shuffy from the adjacent hide and see if we could see the Cetti's Warbler - We did and saw it well, but it didn't show well enough for long enough for a pic - ear-splittingly loud when it sings close by tho! A distant Buzzard soared around briefly and a bit of cloud cover brought in three Sand Martins that shot through southwards - going home - had enough?
A small number of Swallows jinked northwards throughout the morning but no House Martins were seen. 
Moving round to the SE corner we soon found the Wheatears and White Wagtail, not the world's best pics of either! You can just about make out the clean white flanks showing it is a White and not a Pied Wagtail. 5 Wheatears were counted in the end, not a bad total for the site.
Whilst watching the wagtail a Reed Warbler was singing behind us, one of three we heard this morning.
We stopped at the duck feeding area and once again there was little interest in the five loaves that were scattered over the floor. We were able to get a couple of nice close up pics of this female Mallard, prefer the one with the water apart from that stone right above her bill.

The pair of Tufted Ducks were a little closer today too but once again the female was camera-shy! Good hair from him though - remind you of anyone?
Just one Black Headed Gull came in to investigate the copious amounts of flour-based chum - we're not so happy with the results today - too much sun has blown the whites - or we don't know how to control the white balance on the camera.
Seems to have lost its head...careless...

A couple of hundred yards further  o is a wildflower area we started nearly 20 years ago with a couple of donated bags of Snake's Head Fritillaries and a handful of rescued Cowslips - it's looking good now and judging by the big patches of Meadow Cranesbill and Agrimony is going to be a colourful show most of the summer.

Another double loud Cetti's Warbler was heard here.
Frank was getting tired by now, we'd been out over three hours, so we headed straight back to the Solihull Special not stopping at the Feeding Station on the way. Along the path past the the hide the warm sun had brought out a few butterflies including this nectaring Peacock. Dandelions are such a good resource for the spring insects its a shame that so many get mown off in the name of 'tidiness'. (Tidiness' is also mentioned on Pg 264 of this month's British Wildlife  magazine)
Little stunners!!! If they weren't so familiar they be really exotic!
Also seen were our first dancing Speckled Woods of the year - also mentioned in British Wildlife is the stalled northward expansion of Marbled White - come on guys get a shimmy on!!!
British Wildlife also has snippets covering Nature Deficit Disorder - one of our hobby-horses...bring back the nature table in schools and back it up with a  proper syllabus on the curriculum from Reception to GCSE! And Juniper restoration in Scotland, maybe if the heather moors weren't burnt so often for the benefit of a few toffs Juniper in England too might stand a better chance of coming  back from the brink...might alsso help with flood attenuation, carbon sequestration as well as much improved biodiversity...can't have that when there's Red Grouse to be shot by the thousand can we?
Where to next? A newting we will go, a newting we will go, hey-ho the merry-o a newting we will go.
In the meantime let us know what's fluttering around in your outback.

Monday 23 April 2012

Nothing on the east wind

The Safari drove to work looking at a flat calm sea and was hopeful of finding some mammals out there. At ‘Rouzel(?) Puddle’ there were no birds as usual although it does look pretty good for a White Wagtail or two. However, a little further on we did find a new bird for our ‘revamped promenade now with patches of grass’ list...a Carrion Crow bringing the list to four..unIDd thrush sp, feral Pigeon and Herring Gull, if only the Yellow Legged Gull we found during National Whale and Dolphin Watch last summer had been on the grass and not the tarmac...
We went straight out on safari and immediately saw a Grey Seal’s nose poking up above the ripples. Other than that the sea looked to be almost completely empty.
Beyond our southern border there was a good number of Oystercatchers and a large flock, probably 100+, of Sanderlings but our stretch of beach was infested by bait diggers – there were loads of them down at the low water mark. Also seen looking down that way was a second Grey Seal.
Three Shelducks came from along way south and we eventually managed two flocks of seven and eight Common Scoters flying in the distance with four, three and a single found at closer range sat on the water. Near to the three was a nice summer plumaged Red Throated Diver. A large white shimmery thing in the distance was a southbound Gannet. And that was about yer lot.
Nothing was noted going overhead although in the easterly wind we might have expected a bit of vis.
At lunchtime things had taken a turn for the worse...if that was possible. A Great Crested Grebe hung about over what was the beach and a few Cormorants fished here and there. A tight flock of about 20 Common Scoters in the distance added to the four still sat fairly close in to the north. Three Red Throated Divers were seen, all going south, one close, one middle and one far, can’t say fairer than that!
A bit of a bait–ball was attended by a couple of dozen Herring Gulls, a single young Great Black Back and a 2CY Kittiwake, after a few minutes a pair of Sandwich Terns made their way in that direction.
Despite the still calm sea we didn’t see either of the two Grey Seals and yet again no Harbour Porpoises for the Safari.
All a tad on the disappointing side.
All was not lost though as on the way out of the office we spotted a Greenfinch plucking Dandelion seeds on the lawn...a very belated Patch 2 tick, #64.
Then Frank dragged us at great speed up the hill to tthe park...wasn't expecting him to do that. There we had a couple of Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler singing above the din of a gaggle of scrotes doing their best to break in to the pump house for the waterfall.
Where to next? Same again with a bit more excitement hopefully.
In the meantime let us know what didn’t happen in your outback.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Not sure what to call this

The Safari started at 06.50 on the nature reserve. A cooler morning than yesterday with a stiff breeze and no sun. The birds were much quieter far fewer being heard. We stood awhile at the Redstart scrub but only saw a Woodpigeon, not even a Blackcap stirred - yesterday they were all over the shop.
A little further down the still quiet track we came across this small Puffball - anyone know it?
We met the same out of town birder as yesterday and he put us onto a Grasshopper Warbler (163, 82) but said that he had had two. We listened to the first and followed him to the other which he said had been showing quite well. We heard it from a good way off and then our hawk-eyed friend spotted it low down but fairly close to us. If you can tell it's a Gropper from these pics your doing well!
We also had a Sedge Warbler (164, 83) singing in the bushes a bit further back. But with time at a premium we headed back to the Redstart scrub for another stake out  - again little stirred and our alarm went off telling us time was up...time to aim for a bacon butty!
A few hours later we were back and spotted a bit of a hiccup in the field across from the Groppers, which weren't singing now although Young Un Jonny had heard FOUR.
At the other end of the reserve we waited for this St Mark's-fly to be devoured by the owner of the web but it never appeared. Instead the pic isn't out of focus its the fly shaking itself free, luckiest St Mark's-fly in town!
Frank was getting warm in the lovely sunshine - less cold wind at his level? He found a puddle in the wheel ruts...doesn't he always!!!

The warmth brought out several butterflies, we had four species in the end, this Small Tortoiseshell was the first one seen of the day.
A minute or two later we spotted another Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock nectaring on adjacent Dandelions, unfortunately a cloud came over and the Peacock closed its wings the same instant we pressed the shutters :-(
A Carrion Crow sped past so speedily we missed half of him...

We spent a long time listening for a Lesser Whitethroat that didn't show - can't win em all, although our Extreme Photographer probably got a very brief glimpse of it.
At the end of the safari we sat at the duck feeding area with the idea of getting some gull-in-flight shots but there weren't many gulls about and the copious amount of bread on the floor suggested that those that were around were full to busting!

 Got one gull-in-flight pic and we're quite pleased with it.
A pair of Tufted Ducks dived repeatedly, the female was too quick fro the camera...or at least its operator.
In the reeds was the serene sight of the female Mute Swan on her nest.
Not so serene was her mate having a big ole bath

 Meanwhile down at our feet a female House Sparrow took advantage of the uneaten bread
 ...but did it see the Sparrowhawk or one of the four Buzzards overhead.

 But what about the Cuckoo we 'predicted' yesterday? Well it did turn up but about mile or so away :-(   Never mind we did get another nature reserve year bird in the form of a House Martin (84).
Where to next? Patch 2 will be back in play tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what miscellany befell you in your outback.