Tuesday 31 December 2013


The Safari took Wifey and Frank for a drive round the 'hotspots' over the river in the hope for an extra year bird or two. It worked at the first site we stopped at there was plenty of seed on the ground and loads of Tree Sparrows and Chaffinches along with a Robin and a Dunnock. Searching along the dense hedge we saw what we were looking for, a Corn Bunting (192). It was distant in the bins and shortly disappeared. It reappeared a few minutes later singing on the electricity wires in front of us.
We had a quick look at the other farmland feeding station, passing several hundred Whooper Swans on the way, but there was nothing there.
Then we took Frank to the car park on the coast where he tried to play a bit of ball but his rheumatism was fierce today. There were plenty of birds out on the marsh but the tide was out and they were too far away for the bins.
Next stop was somewhere we've never been before, somehow we've avoided the world famous Fluke Hall area for the best part of 25 years despite there being some really really good birds found there in the course of those years.
We didn't see anything of note on our visit and then it was time to head back to Base Camp for tea and a bun.
Once home the phone rang and our Extreme Photographer asked if we were going out, he suggested the big park where a Shag has been seen recently. Nothing for it but to turn the Land Rover round and head back out.
We got there before him and started to look for ringed Coots and Black Headed Gulls were the families were feeding the ducks.
Our previously seen Darvick ringed Coot A74 and Black Headed Gull 4FC were both present.
As was another Black Headed Gull VLJ
Three more of KB's Coots were present including this one green/mauve L orange/BTO R which is a couple or three years old now. The other two have lost there left leg rings leaving only a white and an orange over their BTO rings.
Time to look for that dodgy Cormorant which as it happened wasn't too far away.
Nice size comparison
OK you sussed us this one's a proper Cormorant
Could have done with it being on the nature reserve for our target for there but we've never seen one here in the park before.
Another look at the gulls on the ay back to the car park gave us a 2 (or 3) CY Herring Gull with a ring which was flushed before we could get all the way round it to get the combo. Looks like GR2.... might have to go back tomoz or the day after to get the last four digits. It's possibly from the colony across the bay at Walney Island.  
 Fence eating Mute Swan - gotta ask why???
While we were photographing the Shag this female Shoveler sailed by exceptionally calmly, they are usually very skittish and unapproachable.
So that was the last pic of 2013.
We think we've tied with Monika over in the far north-west of the USA. But she does have a few hours of daylight left as we type so it might not be all over just yet - we're waiting for that intercontinental Tweet to come in...or not.
192 was eight short of both our targets of 200 which we are both keeping for next year too. Any one from another continent or other area within Europe or North America with a similar target feel like joining in in 2014?
Our North Blackpool Pond Trail list faltered probably due to our op coinciding with migration time with only 63 out of the hoped for 90 seen.
Patch 2 did better with 78 out of 90.
The garden gave us a respectable 41 so next year's target will be 45.
Marton Mere nature reserve was where we were most successful 109 out of 115, we'll up the target to 120 next year.
We've also signed up to the Foot-it Challenge for next year, that'll bring Patch 1 back into play. Would have liked to have a bash at the 1000 species in a 1km square but might not have time for it, maybe next year, the 2015 next year.
Where to next? It all starts again tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what you're planning in your outback.

Monday 30 December 2013

The pemultimate day and it's neck and neck-ish

The Safari is still one species behind Monika in our annual birding challenge as we're sat here rattling away on the keyboard typing this rubbish the rain is lashing horizontally against the sitting room window so there may be little chance of getting out today to get those all important two species - always assuming she hasn't been out birding an got lucky over the holidays and not reported her find(s) yet.
We had a chance to draw level yesterday when we visited the family on the South-side and took them down to the beach to look for the Ring Billed Gull which has been seen there late afternoon for the past few days. Today the gulls were well down on the tide line and although there were a lot of them an it was 'probably' there we didn't have time nor a scope to go through them properly so we dipped out. The nieces and nephews had great fun helping to further demolish the storm damaged dunes.
The drive back from Yorkshire gave us a flock of about 30 Red Grouse fly over the car, possibly the most we've ever seen in one place at one time, the culprit for this airborne spectacle was a soaring Buzzard - ooohhh errrrr, good job it was over National Trust land and not a shooting estate but it's probably still not safe. A little further on we spotted a splattered Red Grouse on the side of the road and half expected a gamekeeper to be hidden behind the roadside wall taking pot shots at the passing murderous traffic!
Another Buzzard was seen over the edge of the moor as we neared civilisation and a third in inner city Manchester as we sped along the motorway. A fourth was also seen, this time near Liverpool on a the motorway verge lamp-post. Just one Kestrel was seen all week, not long after the last Buzzard. A Buzzard was also seen near our farmhouse over an active grouse moor. Our last early morning 'out' with Frank at the farm gave us a calling Little Owl from the neighbouring farm.
At Ma 'n; Das the recent purge on trees by the newer residents in the street has left the area looking very bleak and open compared to the view we had from our bedroom window in our early teenage years - no chance of the regular Tawny Owl that used to sit on the telephone pole outside the bedroom window anymore. A Mistle Thrush on a neighbours chimney was a reasonable sighting, our garden notes from 1977 suggest they were infrequent back then.
So we have one day left to get that last speccies...or two - that'd be good!
Locally we have a chance tomorrow - weather and Land Rover permitting (will it start after a week being parked up in the cold and damp) - of some of the 'supposedly easy' species that somehow we've successfully managed to avoid so far this year like Smew, Scaup, Barnacle Goose, Corn Bunting, Short Eared Owl, Hen Harrier and Brambling. And then we missed all those Glossy Ibisssss.
After a week away a check of the feeders here at Base Camp revealed we'd had hardly any visitors - not good.
Well if we don't get that last one or two species there's always next year, and don;t forget it's just for fum the important thing is we both enjoy whatever wildlife experiences come our way and neither of us know what they might be in 2014.
Where to next? Garage for the Land Rover's jump leads!!!
In the meantime let us know what was missed that shouldn't have been in your outback.

Saturday 28 December 2013

How not to get barred

The Safari took Wifey and Frank for another look at the Two Barred Crossbills this morning but large crowd thet was gathered in the lane told us we'd just missed them and that they had been showing well in good light in  the tree-tops as well as coming down to ground level to drink from the roadside ditch - drat! 
Wifey went back to the car due to inadequate footwear while we wandered up to the very busy feeding station, very busy with birds and birders. We couldn't get as close as the other day as there were photographers already ensconced with chairs and all manner of gear in the prime spots.
Didn't stop us trying for a few minutes though.
Blue Tits are always good value but we wanted some shots of the Coal Tits of which there were many as we didn't manage to get any decent ones last time.
A bit better today, more light, better softwear and a decent screen permitting.
Sometimes we got both together
Just as we were running out of time a Nuthatch decided to put in a quick in and out appearance.
We could capture it totally still in the gloomy conditions under the trees.
A pub lunch featuring a pice of sustainably caught Cod followed about the size of a reasonably mature Minke Whale it was hanging over both ends of the plate! The local beer, brewery was at the top of the hill, was deffo recommneded - Bradfield - if you can find it, the pub was very civilised, The Plough at Low Bradfield, and sold mulipacs of bottles of your choice along with a commemorative glass all for only a little more than the major supermarkets sell there medium sized brewery beers for on offer, AND Frank was welcome a major boon as it's often difficult to find dog friendly pubs these days... we hate to say it but this part of Yorkshire has Lancashire and Cumbria well beaten in that department - we'll be back!
Where to next? Last night here and off to Liverpool tomorrow where if we are lucky and can escape family duties at the right time we might be able to twitch an American gull - now that would be nice!
In the meantime let us know who's hopping around in the gloom in your outback. 

Thursday 26 December 2013

Another bash at the 2-bars

The Safari left temporary Base Camp not long after first light on a criply frosty morning. Our aim was to get better views of the local Two Barred Crossbills and hopefully get better pics too. As were driving out of the farmyard a massive flock of about 250 Fieldfares flew over. 
The road was icy in places and not one for racing on! We successfully negotiated the tortuous lanes and just before the final turn at the top of the moor a cracking Red Grouse was sat on the roadside dry stone wall, we pulled over slowly for a pic only to see him drop down on the far side, woulda been too dark anyway as although it was light the sun hadn't yet risen over the hills on the far side of the valley.
Getting to the bottom road we parked up and walked along the lane quietly listing for the distinctive calls. We soon heard Common Crossbills and saw a couple fly over the tree-tops. A Jay called from the woods, before long we'd seen several, a Sparrowhawk sped low along the carless lane. By the time we'd reached where we saw the 2-Bars on Christmas Eve we'd seen or heard nothing but a couple of Great Tits and a Chaffinch. On the lake behind us there was only a single Mallard and three Tufted Ducks.
We wandered by towards the feeding station in the woods we'd been told about where we met another birder, from Dubai of all places but only from Newcastle today.
The feeders were alive in the chill of the morning and we were able to stand against a tree only a few feet from them. If only there'd been a bit more light.
These fighting Pheasants kept us amused.
At the feeders there were lots of Blue and Coal Tits with a few Great Tits thrown in, Robins and Dunnocks too. 
 More searching the tree-tops gave us a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch, more Jays and loads of Woodpigeons. Then our companion heard a call he didn't recognise and scouring the tops of the Larch trees in the distance we found our quarry lit up like pink fairy lights on a bald Christmas Tree, but sadly much further away than the other day. We watched them for a while before deciding to see if we could get through the woods for a closer view, we did but it wasn't that much closer...and then they flew off.
By now it was time to get back to the farm so we left our friend to it and drive back up the hill where, at the crossroads, this misty view met us. 
It was now time to take Frank out for a bit of an explore away from the ducks and chickens in the farmyard, he very nearly grabbed a duck last night - bad dog!!!
We got as far as the local recycling centre to off-load a plethora of tins and bottles which happened to be next to the local park where Frank could have a little stretch and play ball.
A footy match was in progress which he wanted to jon in with. We didn't let him but tried to get some 'Sports Report' type pics...not very successfully. The pitch had an enormouss slope to it and almost all the action had are backs to us against the light. 
Where to next? More wild wet and windy weather is forecast tomorrow so we've no idea what we'll be upto - pics of chickens, farmyard ducks and the local House Sparrows might be all you get perhaps.
In the meantime let us know who's hiding in the tree-tops in your outback.  

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Rattling along

The Safari is living it up on the moors above the Yorkshire city of Sheffield, never been to this part of the world 

On the way a Red Grouse (190) flew right over the bonnet of the car while we negotiated a steep bend on the noorland road. Not a bad start to our little break.
Apologies for the abnormal formatting etc and poor pics Wifey's puter and the WiFi here are conspiring against us. Well the poor pics are straight off the camera so we can't really blame the technology for those!
Yesterday we just about lost a day due to some of the most atrocious weather we've witnessed in our 53 1/2 years, if it hadn't have been for Frank needing to go out six times fro a total of no more than a total of 12 minuutes we wouldn't have set foot outside, Frank wasn't too keen either; his ears were nearly torn from his head! 
This morning the sun came out and the wind had dropped significantly but so had the temperature. A bit of a cook-a-thon for our anniversary dinner and to get some of tomorrow's lunch prepped up was followed by a short drive up a couple of hills and down a couple of dales saw us looking at Larch trees at the edge of a reservoir for a species we've never seen before but has been in the area for a couple of months. As we were parking up another birder walked past and gave us news they'd been seen about an hour earlier. 
We joined him, two pairs of bins are better than one, but rounding the corner on the lane two more birders were in situ with scopes and cameras pointing skyward at the tree tops. 
Game on Two Barred Crossbill (191) in the bag and very nice birds they are too. So that's an amazing three lifers this year, not often that happens these days, it's normally three every five years, or less.
Now we're only one behind Monika in our annual year list challenge - gonna be very very close, see her latest missive here http://www.orcawatcher.com/2013/12/whale-waiters.html  personally we'd rather wait ten years on those rocks than pay Seaworld a few measly dollars to see them 'perform' in captivity. Maybe we will get out there one day.
Enjoy the festivities
Where to next? Might be back tomorrow with tales of mad Mallards
In the meantime let us know who's getting close to what in your outback.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Tis the season to be...what season is it exactly???

The Safari set off on a very mild and blustery morning to do our regular Winter Thrushes survey. It wasn't long before we realised we didn't need the hat or the gloves - it was almost tropical out there! But birds were very few and far between on our walk up to our start point, just a few Magpies and the usual Robins. As we got closer we could  hear a Mistle Thrush singing in the tops of the trees but couldn't see him, not a bad start and promise of things to come?
It was but not in the way we hoped. The Mistle Thrushes colloquial name is the Storm Cock and today was a perfect example of how that name came about. As the survey continued with us jotting down just a few Blackbirds the wind was steadily increasing and the sky darkening only to be rent by a huge flash of lightning to the north - the way we were going.
Hang on a minute - are we in the right month? Our calendar and a million Christmas lights are telling is its nearly the end of December but just before sunrise the temperature should be a lot lower than 11C and we don't normally get thunderstorms  in mid winter - do we? Something was telling us we were about to get a soaking...or worse!
The weather thankfully was pushed away by the wind and we stayed dry as the sun came up.  Cormorant flew over breaking the monotony of not a lot of Blackbirds.
A little further along the route we came across Alder catkins and then a few yards further on  Rowan buds swollen and ready to burst.
Round at the isolated pond a trio of squabbling Great Spotted Woodpeckers was heard and then seen and then a little later drumming was heard.
Another couple of rumbles of thunder were heard and the sky was getting as black as the obs of hell, a soaking was looking inevitable and we had the big expanse of the footy field to cross. None of KBs colour ringed Black Headed Gulls were there in the throng of mixed gulls.
It was now a race to complete the survey before getting wet, almost unfortunate we weren't delayed by many Blackbirds and our final bird was another singing Mistle Thrush.
We did make it back to Base Camp dry but only with a few seconds to spare! 
A daytime watch of the feeders gave us a reasonable bag. Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, Great Tits, a Blue Tit, a Robin, a Chaffinch, a Greenfinch maybe more than one and a Dunnock. Quite pleased with that lot. Amazing what's about when it's light enough to see it.
Around Base Camp there was more unseasonality in the form of flowering Quaking Grass blowing around in the now strong wind
and another Ceanothus flower has opened.
As you can see it was pretty dark at mid-day.
Where to next? Might be back in a bit cos we've got to brave the weather and go and lift the stealth-cam for what's happening tomorrow but for the gen on that you might have to wait until Monday, dunno yet.
In the meantime let us know what season it's not supposed to be in your outback.

Thursday 19 December 2013

The darkness

The Safari is still here, honest. Wot with dingy grey dark days, foul windy rainy weather, starts in the dark, returns in the dark and the inevitable last minute shop-a-thons at lunchtimes wildlifing has  taken a back seat somewhat. 
Nothing doing at work, no time for Patch 2 and just a few Rabbits and Feral Pigeons on the lawns. The Song Thrush has moved on but the regular Blackbird is often seen under the Gorse hedge in about the same place.
Can't believe what we saw yesterday evening when we took Frank out at tea-time - the council had been down the hill and mown the grass verge; in mid-December!!! That really shouldn't happen. Still a few flowers of Dove's Foot Cranesbill escaped the blades but the Daisies didn't. Stupidly mild for the middle of December but we're sure it'll all change before too long if we ever get rid of these ferocious winds.
Can't believe another satellite tracked Golden Eagle has been found poisoned in the black hole of  Angus - haven't they just been voted Scotland's National Species, someone obviously doesn't think that  should be so. Still need several thousand more signatures on this petition. Anyone who cares about wildlife and/or their pets/children should sign this, the poisons these b*stards use is plenty strong enough to kill your pet dog or child should they come across it by accident. Every single one of RSPB's million members and the National Trust's 3.7 million members, and the Wildlife Trust's 800,000 members too...their website says this "We're a charity that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces – for ever, for everyone." And in those spaces the relevant species should flourish for ever for everyone, so what's stopping you - get signing please, unless you're not a UK  resident of course. These relics from the century before last must not be allowed to get away with it anymore. Wouldn't it be great if Golden Eagles could become England's (or even Wales' ) National Bird - not going to happen if they can't get across the Southern Uplands to be able to colonise northern England...same goes for White Tailed Eagles, Hen Harriers, and more. Don't forget both those species were once fairly common and widespread before the 'invention' of 'game' shooting.
And it's not just birds of prey almost anything that moves or tries to grow taller than Heather apart from Meadow Pipits gets it in the neck. Don't get us started on the ecological carnage 36,000,000+ Pheasants wreak upon the native fauna every autumn.
Rant over - get signing...
Where to next? Hols have started and we have a few projects in mind and a couple of twitches to do to see if we can at least draw level with Monika.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the murdering in your outback

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Too little time today

The Safari managed a few short minutes on the sea wall once it got light enough to see if there was anything out there. There was quite a bit provided you like Common Scoters, hard to count in the lumpy sea but at least 4 - 500 of them. Red Throated Divers made their presence felt with five seen in quick succession.  
The tide was in so no beach for anything to strut its stuff on.
The tide was still in and the Common Scoters and the Red Throated Divers were still in approximately the same numbers. A Great Crested Grebe flew by in the middle distance and that was yer lot, apart from the tiny Dab the fisherman standing a few yards away caught and put back not particularly gently.
It was nearly time to go and collect Frank when we looked out of the window and caught an eyeful of this...
Sadly by the time we'd left darkness was upon us and we'd missed the Starlings murmurating against this rather stunning backdrop.
Where to next? Oooohh not sure tomorrow weather looks a little on the poor side but we'll give it a go if there's a bit of a 'window'.
In the meantime let us know who's got the golden orb in your outback.

Monday 16 December 2013

Back in search of the rings

The Safari wasn't inclined to go out in the heavy rain this morning but waited until it brightened up a bit with the sun even threatening to break through the hazy cloud at one point.
But where to go? We had Frank to look after, the reason for our day off in the first place, and after his exertions yesterday a long walk was going to be out of the question so we decided to go to the big park again and see if the ringed birds we saw the other day were still there and could we find any more.
Getting out of the car we heard a Mistle Thrush singing, nice but a tad early? Having said that it is so mild that the Council are still cutting the grass verges along the roadsides - it's mid-December - what's going on...some might call it climate change! It was 9 1/2 C above the long term minimum daily average here the other morning, now one day in one place doesn't mean a thing but lots of days in lots of places added to other forms of evidence starts mount up and points the proverbial finger fairly and squarely at us...take note Donald Trump who said cos it's a bit colder than 'normal' in the USA 'global warming' has stopped,,,well let us tell you  DT we're a few degrees of latitude further north than the 49th parallel here and it is without a doubt quite warm for the time of year, there's still the odd Bumble Bee flying round and our Ceanothus bush has started to flower - only five months too early!.
Being Monday there were far fewer people about but still folks out chilling with the wildlife around the lake. A couple of families with pre-school toddlers were enjoying the Feral Pigeon and Mallard fest and Frank was getting in to Grey Squirrel spotting/chasing/woofing at mode, never seen him  move so fast for months.
We mozied on down to the lake where it didn't take long to spot Coot A74, it was with the Mallards expecting bread! A thorough check of the other friendly Coots revealed not a sinfgle ring between them. 
The family feeding the ducks a little way off had attracted a fair sized crowd of Black Headed Gulls but none sported any bling. 4FC will likely turn out to be from Denmark.
With all the near stuff checked we wandered down past to boathouse to have a look at the gulls roosting on the rail. Here we saw three Cormorants hauled out and got ear ache of an elderly gentleman claiming they'd eaten all the fish in the lake, to which the response was that if they had they wouldn't be there so there must be some left. Thinking about it although we don't visit the park much we don't recall seeing many Cormorants in the water fishing, yes there are often several on the rail chilling out and a large roost develops in the evening but we don't often see them with their wings outstretched in the post swimming drying stance...maybe they have eaten all the fish...maybe we should visit more often.
We'd wasted too much time on A74 and lost the best of the light although the Cormorants still looked metallic they didn't shimmer as we'd seen them do a few minutes earlier form afar. Studied closely in the 'right' light they are simply stunning birds...As are Mallards, no wonder they are popular with the kids looking like this and being super-friendly coming very close for a proper good look at those ultra-fine vermiculations.
We had a good close look at the gulls standing on the rail, almost all were Black Headed Gulls as usual and two had standard BTO type rings but were far too far away to be able to be read.
We could see a lot more gulls on the northern half of the lake so we dragged Frank that way but there were none on the rail that separates the conservation area from the main lake, all were sat in the water out towards the middle with no chance of even seeing a leg never mind a ring - note to self...take bread next time! The Coot were all too far out too, we didn't count them but there must have been well over 50 out there.
Of note were several Gadwall here, they seem to have forsaken the nature reserve in favour of this more sheltered lake in recent months.
Retracing our steps brought us back to the boathouse where we saw this rather unusually patterned hybrid thingy.
Don't think we've seen one quite like that before so what is it? Well Mallards are notorious for being rampantly sexual so it could be anything but is Mallard x Cormorant stretching the imagination a little too far?
It can't be possible but don't you think the resemblance is just a bit too scary to contemplate.
Arriving back at Base Camp another Mistle Thrush was singing in the distance as we unloaded Frank - light/temperature/weather conditions must have got them all in the mood for a bit of warbling this arvo.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow - hope there's some decent visibility for a change.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the hybridisation they shouldn't be in your outback. 

Sunday 15 December 2013

Total fatigue of the dog

The Safari went out on a rather pleasant winter's morning...or had it turned 12 by the time we hit the road. We were on a mission to find the Long Eared Owl that had been reported at the nature reserve. There wasn't much about at the little wetland but while we waited for Frank to get stuck into his sniffathon we heard a Water Rail calling from the nearest pond and watched a Reed Bunting fly across to the far side to land out of sight in the long grass.
Wandering incredibly slowly onwards, gaw that dog can sniff...we saw almost nothing else apart from the odd Woodpigeon and Magpie - it was deathly quiet out there.The sun shone brightly and a path-side Willow was light like a wildfire.
As we neared the scrub the owl had been seen in a pair of Mute Swans flew in to the mere.
We were joined by our Extreme Photographer, a second pair of experienced eyes are always useful for spotting a camouflage expert in dense bushes but it wasn't to be. moving our positions a few feet at a time to scan at slightly different angles didn't give the result we were hoping for.
We moved further along the path but again some seriously intense searching didn't produce the goods. Time to try the far side of the scrub and look in to the reserve from the outside. We spent a good half hour here to no avail. A Blackbird, a Woodpigeon, a Blue Tit and a Robin were all the pair of us could muster.
We called it a day as it was getting lateish in the afternoon and we were only half way round the trail and you know who was already feeling the distance on his knackered old elbows. If we thought the walk in was slow the walk back to the Land Rover was excruciatingly slow with a hundred and one stops including some total refusals
A flock of distant ducks circling the mere caught our eye and through the bins became five Pintails - a good record for here.
Back at the wetland another Reed Bunting was seen but no Water Rails were heard this time.
Frank has hardly moved since he got back to Base Camp, apart from getting up for his dinner of course!
Where to next? Day off tomorrow but we do have a tired Sniffer-Billy to drag round where-ever we might head out to, might even try for that elusive owl again...well with this wildlify stuff you never know do you?
In the meantime let us know what's seriously well hidden in your outback.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Brill to see so many enjoying nature today

The Safari didn't get out til late today. We had to drop Wifey off for her appointment then collect some bits n bobs for Frank from the vets. The vets is near the big park so we took him in there afterwards for a bot of a walkies. 
We'd taken the camera with us in case of a photo opportunity but not the bins. Frank was slow, think the changing weather affects his rheumaticy elbows like it gets our hands - beyond flippin uncomfortable. We were walking down the hill towards the lake when we felt a couple of spots of rain, Frank was sniffing the trees behind us and we nearly turned round to give up as it was hardly what you would call light and we had hoped to get some gull-in-flight shots. 
It's been a week in which there has been plenty of demonisation of wildlife, Shetland Pony sized Badgers petrifying children in a suburban garden - WHAT, a Great White Shark attack in Western Australia bring about a ridiculous knee jerk reaction against an endangered species by the government there which runs the serious risk of bring more sharks closer to the people in the water and then of course there's Pratterson and the NFU still trying to convince us that Badger murdering is the right way to control bTB whereas in fact what they've done is probably going to make it worse. A bTB outbreak has occurred in the county here so farmers are still buying and selling cattle from infected areas and moving them around - surely this has to stop, and extremely scary the threat of a mining company suing the Costa Rican government for not wanting the further destruction of their rainforest - sadly this is feels like the beginning of a large juggernaut coming to an environment near you soon. Even the article in the paper suggests the incidence of the disease is on a slight decline note paragraph three. There is  huge need for more environmental eductaion throughout the school curriculum - how is looking after the planet we live on not a full time part of the education system?
But then we saw something quite amazing and heart-lifting. Two boys about 11 or 12 wearing hoodies came in to view on those little scooters, they dumped their wheels with a crash near the boathouse - what's going on here we thought...then they stood still with their arms out...and the Feral Pigeons descended on them like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock film.
They were covered in them and loving every minute of it. We asked the nearest lad how many was his mate's record - about 20 was the reply - blimey!
They were mobbed
Over the course of the next few minutes several others joined in the feathery fun, there were couples, youngsters, families, dogs all milling around being mobbed by the pigeons and Black Headed Gulls. They'd all - well not the dogs - come to throw bread at the ducks and Mute Swans but got side tracked by the action.
This gave us the chance to get some very poor gull-in-flight shots...it was really too dark to bother but hey-ho we were there and so were the gulls so what the heck...
The woman in the corner's husband/boyfriend was throwing bread and the hoodied lad was ducking the gulls were coming in very close to the top of his head...he didn't care though he was in the thick of it and enjoying the experience - his smile, which we can't show, you said it all when he turned round and asked if we got that on 'film'.
The bread attracted the usual melee of ducks and we tried to get an arty shot of the Mute Swans but they weren't playing ball and wouldn't pose in the right position for us.
While watching the ducks, the Coots came in and we looked for KB's colour rings but found a newly Darvik ringed bird probably from elsewhere in the north west.
White A74 - where's he from Kane?
 Then we saw one of the Black Headed Gulls was similarly Darviked.
White 4FC - anyone got any gen on this one, eastern European?
This gave us the opportunity to tell the gathering throng about the fascinating movements of what they perceive to be 'ordinary' species. Really glad no-one mentioned 'flying rats' or had a downer on the pigeons.
We got carried away with more poor gulls-in-flight shots when we noticed Frank was in the background...the camera went wild!!!
OK so it's a very poor pic but how well framed is Frank's nose - saw a remarkably similar one featuring a Bald Eagle on Twitter this arvo but can't find it for you now - wasn't as good - didn't have Frank in it!
So what started out as a dull December day after a long and depressing grey week turned out into something really special for lots of people all thanks to a few very 'ordinary' species of very easy to see wildlife...politicians take note!
Where to next? We'll try to get out somewhere tomorrow - nature reserve?
In the meantime let us know who's putting on the aerial displays in your outback.
Late Edit -
Add your voice to over 124k asks for a better deal for wildlife-friendly farming:

So now more than 124000 people have asked the government to move the maximum amount of funds into wildlife/environment friendly farming - almost as many as the Tory party has members and probably more than the NFU membership - do the right thing government Public money for public goods!!!!!!!!!!