Friday 28 February 2014

Miffed to say the least but it's not all bad by a long chalk

The Safari was out with Frank on his evening walk before tea last night and a good walk it was too starting with an over-flying Grey Wagtail (116). A Song Thrush was singing from the Golden Triangle, we'd heard it from Base Camp in the morning and  it was now giving it some serious welly...Did he do it, did he do it, did he do it? - Of course he did he did he did! Just brilliant to listen to, far better than having lordy knows what musically bellowing in yer lugs from your earphones - the real sounds of nature are far superior to anything we can produce, well almost RIP Paco. We'll have to dig out the old cassette tapes we have of his and have a special listen. Now if young  HW learns to play like that!!!
Sadly there was no sign of the Peregrine on the tower, not seen it for a few weeks now, must be due to put in an appearance soon. There was however a Goldcrest calling in the Philadelphus hedge making its way towards the now felled Leylandii trees in the big garden. Not a bad wander round the first bit of Patch 1, good job it's still light after work.
Later, after tea Twitter was being filled with astounding pics of the Aurora Borealis including some from south of us. We just had to get out and have a look. Our northern horizon isn't good and the light pollution is far from ideal - not to worry we must have been the only place in the country where it wasn't just cloudy it was flippin raining! We peered out several times without any success all down to cloud and or rain.
We reckon this pic from ©NASA has to be pick of the bunch
Beyond totally awesome - isn't the natural world brilliant! We're quite surprised by all the light pollution from the North sea oil and gas rigs between Shetland and Norway.
This morning the Song Thrush was at it again, we stood listening while also standing staring at the Land Rover - all that flippin rain had blown over and the skies obviously cleared to allow this to happen, Only scraped ice off the windscreen a few times this winter but this is the first time we've seen the ice patterns like this this winter.
Like we said isn't the natural world brilliant.
The day went a bit downhill after that with reasonable numbers of Common Scoters seen at sea but little else.
By lunchtime the sea had calmed down to almost flat calm and the numbers of Common Scoters now went up to around 1000. In the middle distance a female/immature Long Tailed Duck whizzed northwards. Two Razorbills were best of the rest. The dropping tide didn't seem to be leaving much in the way of a shellfish wreck as the numbers of interested looking gulls was way way down on yesterday.
All in all an interesting 24 hours with some great sightings but mixed emotions - isn't the natural world brill.
The Badger cull seems to have been denounced as an abject inhumane failure, even being adjudged so on the #Torypoodle BBC News - lets hope it truly is dead and buried for good in all shapes  and sizes.
Where to next? The weekend might offer an opportunity of a safari or two somewhere.
In the meantime let us know what's brilliance the natural world has offer today in your outback.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Two cross over to the South-side

The Safari picked up ace photographer BD (37500 views on Flickr in a week is pretty ace in our opinion) after breakfast yesterday and we set off for the South-side after a minor detour to dip the local Green Sandpipers for the second time each!
Our first destination was a small reserve that we used to work at many years ago, so long ago even that it wasn't even a reserve at that time.
All a bit different now, it was good to wander round with BD on his first visit and explain the changes in the habitats that have developed over the last 30 years with the superb management works that have been, and continue to be, carried out over the years. Much of the early work we were involved with was hacking a way through the dense Rhododendron thickets to blaze the trail lots of people were walking along today.
The air is clean here and under the light canopy of mostly Silver Birch trees cut stumps soon become covered with extensive moss and lichens and of course the rotting process is the job of numerous fungi. No idea what species this is but it's colours were intense.
Looks a bit Clarice Cliffy if you ask us.
This one takes the biscuit though, how bright is that green, why is it different to the others and what makes the colour - algae?

Nearby there was a work team that had clear felled a small area probably as coppice but left a few standards, these had been ring barked to make the trunk die off to encourage standing dead-wood invertebrates, fungi and woodpeckers. This reserve is too small and too 'man-disrupted' to let the 're-wilding' theme of letting nature take it's ow course - indeed the Rhododendron problem had become almost out of control for that very reason...sometimes intervention is not only desirable to extremely necessary - - would be good to have a few Wild Boar roaming round there amongst the handful of Red Squirrels that are still hanging on in there mainly around the non-native Scots Pine plantation although it could be argued that Scots Pine is just about native on poor soils around these parts.
It wasn't the habitat management we came to see though, the place is good for its birds and being early spring we were hopeful of some Great Crested Grebe dancing action, they started a few times but it always came to naught.

We stopped in one particular hide with the hope of a Kingfisher turning up but it didn't. The vegetation in front of the hide had been cleared for better viewing but a Gorse hadn't been chopped and provided great feeding opportunities for a pair of Long Tailed Tits.
A good selection of sucks were about but not in large numbers. Gadwall were hard to find but a single male Goosander (114) was our first of the year.
Continuing our stroll round we came to the next hide where the light was directly in front of us. Normally a good place for Goosanders but there were none here today. Not to worry, the Mallards put on a bit of a spectacle!
After seeing as much as we could here we headed to the coast in bright sunshine but a bit of a stiff wind. 
The marsh didn't have the early Avocets we'd hoped for but there was plenty of  Wigeon, Teal, Pink Footed Geese and a stunning flock of several hundred Golden Plovers and even more Lapwings. A Great Black Back Gull was in serious marauding mode putting the others up and cruising through them looking for a tired or weak victim to tear apart.
Black Tailed Godwits were feeding intently all around us.
A walk along the road to view the saltmarsh failed to give us any raptors, especially the Hen Harrier we'd hoped for, the Great White Egret wasn't for showing itself either but its lesser cousins did us a couple of nice fly-bys. 
We decided to walk to the edge of the National Nature Reserve and once there we spotted a flit on the path in front of us which bobbed round the back of small patch of Brambles. A bit of creeping and pishing got a female Stonechat (115) to almost show itself, a Lifer for BD and one he's been waiting for a while.
All too soon we ran out of time...nightmare. Twas a great day out!
This lunchtime we watched a weird little gull, what on earth was it? There must have been a good bit of Herring Gull in it. An adult with a golden yellow bill and strongly angled bright red gonys. Legs were short and sludgy grey Common Gully coloured with slightly fleshier pink feet. The eye was small, dark and beady but it was to far away for us to determine any eye ring. The head wasn't anything like a Caspo's though being short billed and high dome crowned. It did have the filled-nappy like hanging arse. Wing-wise it didn't have a full white P10 as far as we could see and it didn't open its wings all the time we watched it.
Not much out at sea other than a couple of hundred Common Scoters.
Where to next? Back to the gulls on Patch 2 and we hope we come across the mystery one again.
In the meantime let us know what the mystery is in your outback.

Monday 24 February 2014

No wind, no rain, warm sun - wot's goin on?

The Safari had a rare day off today as Wifey is working in the Big Smoke again and we had to stay home and look after Frank. No hardship on a day like today, he even had a lie in waking us up an hour after he normally does. We had a bit of brekky and watched the clouds clear and the wind drop, time to load him into the Land Rover and aim northwards and invaded a couple of other birders' patches
We had several target birds to connect with but even if we didn't find them it with the sun out for a change it was going to be a good day's safari-ing anyway.
First stop was the farmland feeding station which was already busy. The hedge was full of Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows and a Dunnock. Down the track a couple of partridges scuttled through the undergrowth and eventually showed themselves to be released for shooting Red Legged Partridges which don't go on our list, bonny birds though, shame to fill them with lead really, although they probably taste good, are free range (after release from the breeding pens) and are more or less organic so we'd hazard a guess they're probably better for you than factory farmed meat.
Scanning back along the top of the hedge there was one of the target species, a Corn Bunting  (108), and a second already down on the seed. Another hedge scan revealed a female Yellowhammer (109), things were bobbing along nicely.
Not the best of pics taken through the car window.
We gave it a good wait hoping that all the activity would produce a raptor, preferably a Merlin or a Hen Harrier. It did but neither of those two. In the distance a huge flock of Lapwings and Golden Plovers kept rising up and wheeling round beyond the little wood...a Buzzard appear and perched up in said wood. Deffo worth the wait if only to see the masses of plovers in the air, it was a real wildlife spectacle of the highest order.
Moving down the lane a mile or so we stopped at the second feeding station, passing a right bonny male Yellowhammer on the roadside hedge and a small flock of Pink Footed Geese feeding on left over potatoes in the fields either side of the road on the way. Not much was at the grain there, a couple of Reed Buntings and a few Chaffinches, another Yellowhammer and another couple of Corn Buntings. Again no Hen Harrier quartering the rough fields.
The field adjacent to the track has been ripped to pull out any Bog Oak stumps out of the peat that might foul the plough. There were plenty scattered around showing that this area was once woodland, possibly something like Alder Carr as it would have been seasonally very wet.
Time to move on again so we pointed the bonnet northwards to the top end of our day's adventure. A good bird was spotted from the driving seat at about 45mph, the Glossy Ibis was in the usual field with at least half a dozen Little Egrets, we made a mental note to call in on the way back.  Arriving at the creeks the tide was well out and there was plenty of mud exposed - perfect!
Our first port of call was the main car park to give Frank a stretch and sniff and to check out the outer marsh but once on the old railway bride we could see numpties with dogs way out in both directions, consequently there wasn't a bird to be seen; what is it with these people, they have miles of specially designated paths to walk their mutts but no they have to disturb the habitat - willfully or recklessly disturbing a Designated wildlife area, pretty sure this one is an SSSI should be punishable by death - in this habitat by being buried up the neck in the mud at low tide! Soon make the pillards think twice about wandering around willy-nilly.
Nothing for it but to drive round the the pool where we found another birding couple just leaving and telling us they'd seen the usual suspects, Goldeneyes, Tufted Ducks, a couple of Little Grebes, Teal, Wigeon, all nice but nothing earth shattering. Behind us on the creek they asked what the long legged silvery grey bird was, a Grey Plover nowhere near  its summer garb. Also there were plenty of Redshanks, Teal and another Little Grebe. Three Black Tailed Godwits flew in as we were having our lunch.
We thought we'd seen a Spotted Redshank from the car as we approached the little hump backed bridge but couldn't be sure as we were concentrating on the upcoming cars approaching from the other side. From where we now stood we couldn't see them so leaving Frank to have a rest we took the scope and wandered back the way we'd come and sure enough there they were, tow of them together, Spotted Redshanks (110). Oystercatchers and Curlews flew over our heads and we could hear a Skylark singing, it was turning into a very pleasant day to be out.
Spotted Redshank
For comparison
Lovely elegant birds
Next it was time to cross the canal and circumnavigate the little docks to go and chase down a herd of swans that has been in the area for a while. Cruising the lanes we saw small very distant groups of swans that probably didn't hold the ones we wanted to see so we ignored them. Then rounding a bend there, through a gap in the hedge we saw the flock of flocks, well over 100 of them! And fortunately conveniently sited by a little bit of a lay-by on the single track lane.
Setting her scope up on a very narrow footbridge, only just wide enough to make the tripod functionable, we started to scan. It took a good for tries, moving back and forth along the bridge to get the best views obscured by branches and reeds from the hedge and ditch right in front of us but eventually right at the back of the herd we found a pair of adult Bewick's Swans (111). Fair reward for our persistence and a relief too as earlier in the week we'd told HW that they had our name on them. Skylarks were singing unseen above us and a covey of partridges  broke cover and came in to view behind the Bewick's Swans. It took a while to nail them as Grey Partridges (112) against the strong light, a good 'scarce' in the FoV combo - not that Grey Partridges should be scarce at all and even these might be 'left-overs' from shooting releases although they are at least native and do go on the list.

Frank had been cooped up in the back so we drove to the car park on the marsh at the end of the lane and let him out immediately flushing what we thought was a Merlin off the fence post right behind the Land Rover, we hadn't noticed it as we reversed up to the grassy bank.
Frank jumped out and we found the Merlin was now actually a female Kestrel sat on a lump of mud away across the field but Frank had his nose in something on the other side of the bank...a dead Brown Hare - that's what the Kestrel had been on and being down the bank why we hadn't seen it on the fence-posts. we hope it has died of natural causes and not been run down by scrotes with dogs.
But have a close look at those teeth - what's that groove for, we've seen a few dead Brown Hares over the years and do know for a fact they taste good, but have never taken any interest in their teeth before. It's so well defined it has to have a purpose.
There was yet another numpty woman with a whole pack of dogs out on the scar, fortunately the tide was out and the birds don't use it at this time being spread out over the huge expanse of the mud-flats but she no doubt would have been there causing mayhem had the tide been in, another dog walker had only four dogs two of which were running amock through the sheep in the field which hadn't yet lambed - if they hadder been our sheep both barrels from the Purdey would have been in order and we don't even like sheep!
We'd seen enough and made our way back to the Glossy Ibis to find that there were no no Little Egrets visible from the lane to the church and a group of birders looking for them. We drove to the top and back to tell them the bad news then left them to find any other birds there, once on the main road we looked up the field to see a single Little Egret still there so back tracked to let them know.
The group had said that the dark bellied Brent Goose was showing quite close at its usual place, normally it's a dot in the distance so we called in there on the way back. 
Frank had another mooch and sniff while we set up the scope, finding the Brent Goose (113) within a couple of minutes well separated from its usual Shelduck and Pink Footed Geese friends of both of which there were a goodly number.
Little Egrets appeared here and there as they walked in and out of the numerous creeks and behind us in the shrubby woods two cockerels crowed extremely loudly.
We called back at the frst feeding station where this time the grain was largely ignored just a couple of Chaffinches lingering in the hedge but a movement on the ditch side of the track caught our eye, another splendidly marked Grey Partridge.

Apologies for the poor shot but it was a long way down the track beyond the seed dump. Think these are going to elevated to become our faves, yes above even Moorhens and Mediterranean Gulls - well they are little stunners aren't they and a bird of our youth when we roamed the fields near our ancestral home in the very earliest days of our safari-ing adventures - sadly we just don't see them anything like often enough these days.
Returning to the main road we saw an odd blob behind a horse in the field and pulled over to rub our eyes, blink and look again.
Not everyday you see a Rhea in rural Lancashire!
A call in at the Dyke gave us a Little Egret, plenty of Redshanks, nothing of note in the gull roost and a Bar Tailed Godwit but no Twite; we were to learn back at Base Camp that half a dozen had been seen there earlier...dohhh - but in fact apart from a handful of Starlings there were no small birds at all not even in the hedge on the drive up the track to the seawall. Way out on the mudfalts was yet another bloke and his pesky dog!!!
A quick call in at the promenade in the village also failed to give us any Twite but we were surprised to see scaffolding and workmen at the Black Redstart's building site that has been dormant for how many years.
By now we'd long finished the coffee in the flask and were feeling parched, Frank had done enough sniffing so back to Base Camp we went, pretty happy with the day's safari-ing.
Where to next? Another day off tomorrow but Wifey is back sometime in the afternoon so we can't go so far...nature reserve to see if the change in the weather has moved anything around perhaps.
In the meantime let us know who's been moved in to favourite spot in your outback.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Winter's still very much here

The Safari went out earlyish along the North Blackpool Pond Trail to do our fortnightly Winter Thrushes survey. It was blustery out but mild enough not to need hat or gloves. The last couple of wanders up this way have given little in the way of thrushes on the way in bit today there were loads of Blackbirds...a good sign?
A Song Thrush was also seen flicking over leaf litter under the Blackthorn thicket, no flowers here today unlike the nature reserve in the week. Another was singing nearby along with a Wren and a Chaffinch, other Wrens were scolding from deep in the shrubbery.
Rounding the corner a 'Wow' moment happened when we saw the display of Snowdrops under the fruit trees in the Community Orchard. Lots of Daffodils to come which will be followed by drifts of Bluebells.
Beyond the orchard we started our survey with another Song Thrush singing but we struggled for Blackbirds in the 'usual' places, thankfully when we got towards the little bridge they started to appear. Not much else was about though.
Plodding round our route we continued to add Blackbirds at a slow rate. Another Wow moment came at the cemetery when we came upon a brilliantly vivid patch of yellow Crocuses. The footy pitches  car park gave us a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker which we eventually located high up in a Poplar tree. And that just about ended the non-thrush sightings other than the flock of House Sparrows and Feral Pigeons that like the feeders in the grounds of one of the offices that backs on to the walkway through the estate. Even the footy fields were devoid of gulls and Starlings! Maybe the later morning meant that the local dog walkers had already flushed everything, next time we'll need to get out earlier.
In the end our 'slow' Blackbirds weren't actually that slow with 32 hitting the sheet. 
On a slightly scary note we noticed two lawns  had been recently mown., one domestic and one outside an office's coming!!! On the other hand you could do your bit for wildflower conservation and help butterflies, bumble bees and all manner of other important inverts by saying No to the Mow.
After a busy chore-y day we got out for an hour, via the shops, down to the coast at Chat Alley's old boating pool. The tide was in, we knew it would be, which meant only one thing - wader roost! By-eck the weather had cooled down a bit, sheeezzz it was cool in the wind on the cliff, there's plenty left in winter still.
204 Redshanks were on the top of the wall in an easily viewable place seeing as how we only had our bins with us, there were just eight Turnstones and the species we wanted to see, two Purple Sandpipers (107).

That was all the safari-ing we were able to do today but it was all pretty good.
Where to next? Little opportunity to get out tomorrow due to family business.
In the meantime let us know who's hiding on the top of the wall in your outback

Friday 21 February 2014

That sure was an icy blast

The Safari had a bit of a shock this morning. Nothing much was happening on Patch 2 not many gulls on the beach having been disturbed by dog walkers, the sea wasn't much cop either, very choppy and not much out there bar the Common Scoters
A little later back in the office a pale bird shot past the window, we thought it might have been the elusive Song Thrush from the other day but no it wasn't that, rummaging around under the hedge picking up the odd stick here and there was a Collared Dove (P2 #38) and pretty much a mega at work. Once back at Base Camp we checked our records and discovered it  was the first we've seen on Patch 2 since 2010!!!
The rest of most of the morning was spend on a very windy beach exploring what the storms have brought in. The strand-line was extensive and our two small children soon got to grips with the multitude of shells. We'd sort of promised them some Starfish, Common Sand Stars, which the gulls had been gorging on earlier...they must have done a lot of gorging as we failed to find any. 
Lots of good stuff out there. Plenty of Dead Men's Fingers sponges, this one found on the way back to the wall stuck to a Scallop.
Did you spot the Pomatoceros triqueter worm's head poking out of it's tube.
Also doing a bit of peeking out is this Hermit Crab from its Barnacle encrusted Moon Snail shell hidey-hole.
While we were looking for bigger starfish we started to find their smaller cousins the Brittlestars. Some were quite sizable for this species but all were missing large amounts off their limbs.
On the right of the Brittlestar we there's another sponge Halicolona oculata using a Fanworm case (whose name we have forgotten - DB help us please) as a holdfast.
A good haul all round.
Isn't our beach brill!
Where to next? Not sure what might happen this weekend, possibly not able to get any safari-ing done but we'll see.
In the meantime let us know who's peeking out of what in your outback.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Good day all round

The Safari had an early physio appointment this morning so missed out on Patch 2 which was a shame cos news on the desk when we arrived at it there was a message telling us of what wee think is the first Grey Seal of the year along our coast, a Red Breasted Merganser and some Little Gulls, a tidy little pre-work haul for SD.
Our walk back to the car park from the hospital gave us a clump of Winter Aconite coming in to flower.
The rail the gulls sit on along the lake edge is just about near enough to check them without the naked eye, lots of Black Headed Gulls, a handful of Common Gulls plenty of Herring Gulls but no sign of the Mediterranean Gull that's been seen in there a few times recently.
Our brief lunchtime session could hardly have been better, it's not everyday the first birds you see are a couple of Little Gulls and a Kittiwake. Three more Little Gulls moved through - by eck they're bonny! Five or six hundred Common Scoters showed how calm it was but we could only find three Great Crested Grebes and half a dozen Red Throated Divers. A speck of black and white was a distant unidentified auk and we did find a nearer Guillemot. Needless to say we were quite happy with that little lot for our 20 minute watch...the Grey Seal would have been the icing on the cake.
Minutes after going back in we were out again, this time on route to the nature reserve via the little wetland for lead a guided walk. 
We waited by the gate in glorious sunshine while a gentle shower passed over giving us a splendid rainbow to enjoy. A male Kestrel worked the wetland, resplendent in the sunshine. Scanning watching him we spotted a distant Bumble Bee and then saw a stump ended squat medium sized bird shooting over the houses, didn't get the bins on it but the first thing that came to mind was a Woodcock! Whatever it was the local Feral Pigeons weren't impressed and flushed off the rooftops.
A wander across the wetland didn't produce any Snipe of any kind which was unusual but three Meadow Pipits popped up out of the long grass.
Making our way to the reserve we heard Great Spotted Woodpecker calling, Woodpigeons singing  and Long Tailed Tits buzzing about unseen.
The reserve was louder still with Song Thrushes, Chaffinches, more Woodpigeons and a couple of sporadic Cetti's Warblers all in song. The warm sunshine, lack of wind and birdsong made it feel very spring like out there.
We watched the water having a look at the waterfowl, a very nice mix with FW's Pintails being STILL present three pairs and a single male, 58 Shoveler was a good count, three female and a male Goldeneye, loads of uncounted Wigeon, 100+, and even more Teal but most of them were hidden in the reeds.
Three Great Crested Grebes had argy-bargy and the Coots have started their chases but we didn't see any fights breaking out.
We kept checking the gulls gradually increasing the count of Lesser Black Backed Gulls (MMLNR #63) to 23 and then we spotted the jackpot, the local Iceland Gull! (MMLNR #64) It came into bathe unseen and stayed at least 20 minutes giving good but distant views and poor record shots.
Enough of the gulls, try as we might we couldn't find a Mediterranean Gull we wander off down the path to see if we could find the Long Eared Owl. We stopped on the semi-circle of grassland that hasn't been cut and raked yet but we still managed to find some Bee Orchid rosettes within a few feet of each other.
Coltsfoot was also coming into flower nearby.
No sign of the Long Eared Owl(s) though and we were helped by a couple of other birders. We gave it a concerted effort to no avail and moved on, now we had a decision to make do we go round to view the lake again  or cut up round the back of the reserve to have a look for the Long Eared Owls from the back-side. Before we had the chance to make that call we saw a white thing flit over the embankment towards the sopping wet fields to the east and our brain picked out Little Egret from the memory reappeared closer and in profile, a cracking Barn Owl. Now the chase was on to get good prolonged views of it and maybe a pic or joy it had done one probably across the thick hedge to the next field to the north. Nice to see them in the middle of the afternoon but it does mean they're struggling to find enough scram which isn't so good.
Round at the second Long Eared Owl spotting place we couldn't find it/them there either but we did see some Blackthorn in flower.
Spring is deffo trying to get the upper-hand, further on we found more evidence of the perennial of battle the seasons. Hawthorn buds opening...
More singing Song Thrushes, Robins and Dunnocks completed the spring-like scene.
What a great afternoon for a safari! Full of great sightings and surprises.
Where to next? More Patch 2 and hopefully a Dolphin (= Harbour Porpoises) watch tomorrow afternoon.

In the meantime let us know if spring is doing its best to sprung in your outback.

Monday 17 February 2014

Good gulling undone by time

The Safari saw that the sea was very calm this morning and there looked like there'd be every chance of something blubbery on show today.
We got to the wall and were instantly distracted by a huge number of gulls in front of us. They were everywhere, huge numbers were further down beyond our border. The chances of something good out there was as high as it's ever been. We studied those near enough to death and found only one decent one amongst them, a large dark mantled 'argentatus' Herring Gull. There must have been more out there but sadly we didn't have anything like enough time to go through them properly.
It certainly wasn't the day to be one of the very many stranded Starfish.
Nor did we have time for anything more than a cursory glance further offshore but saw nothing than the normal fare and little of that.
On the way back through the works garden we saw three then four Blackbirds, had they just been dropped by the rain that sent us scarpering back indoors? Later in the morning a brief sortie in to back garden gave us a fleeting glimpse of something maybe a bit smaller and paler browner, Song Thrush - good bird here if it was but we had to have chat with the foreman of the gardening team and by the time we'd finished it was nowhere to be seen so what's missed is mystery as they used to say
No chance of a look at lunchtime it was persisting down far to much for us, we must be getting wussy as further up the coast SMcC was getting drenched doing her advertised dolphin watch. No success for her, hopefully tomorrow will be better. Again we won't be able to join in as we have an indoor event to supervise - on wht;s forecast to be the best day of the week - dohhhh
Back at Base Camp all the chicken we put out overnight in front of the stealth-cam had disappeared. What had chomped it? A check of the SD card revealed the orrible hairy cat was the main culprit but another visitor had been active
Where to next? Hopefully there will be plenty of gulls again and we'll have a little more time to do them justice.
In the meantime let us know who's out in force in your outback

Sunday 16 February 2014

Well that put paid to gulling

The Safari's hopes of some gulling died the death today. We more accurately we got in the Land Rover to go and didn't - the battery was flatter than a steam rollered PV cell. So in to the garage we went for the battery charger and a long extension flex.
Nothing to do but to have a change of tack and saw some wood instead. It was pleasant in the garden listening to Woodpigeons singing in the distance and this Goldfinch singing in the big Sycamore tree while his chums raided the feeders.
We are relieved this tree is still here, all around us is tree carnage, not from fallen trees from the storm but more from the fear that garden trees might fall so they're being horrendously hacked or removed altogether. The sound of chainsaws, both petrol and electric, was scary. There won't be a tree left before too long. Our Silver Birch is barely stable not sure if it is holding its post up or the post is just about doing its job but both are still standing.
We were cutting our wood when another disaster happened, the blade on the bow saw snapped - talk about nothing going right!
Having said that there was no news of the possible Thayer's Gull, no news of the Iceland Gull at the nature reserve and BD told us he was hot on the trail of a full summer plumage Mediterranean Gull in the park, always good to see the best bird in the book but we couldn't go and check it out.
Frank wanted to go out so we took him up the hill where we passed the flowering Cowslips, if that's what they are exactly, ours are still dormant. 
 The same garden has some lovely mosses growing on the wall right by the path at shoulder height.

All today's pics except the Goldfinch are from the phone-cam.
We were happy to be out even if only tottering slowly to Magpie Wood - Frank's furthest jaunt these days. You don't have to go to a nature reserve to get a daily fix of nature, we'd seen loads already and we'd only got 50 yards so far. Dunnocks, Robins a Blackbird and a Song Thrush were singing even though it was mid-afternoon; not the typical time for birdsong.
Frank skirted round Magpie wood and demanded to be taken on a full Patch 1 walk in to the park - trouble is would he be able to get back home.
It was pleasant enough but not too warm for him so we risked it. Nice in there it was too. Honeysuckle was on its way into leaf.
In the park Magpies squawked and a Mistle Thrush was singing but other than that birdwise it was quiet, not small children quiet though. A gaggle of youngsters was having a great time without the need to wreck any of the trees shrubs or plants which makes a refreshing change. Why is it the kids you do see out in the wilds are tthe ones who really shouldn't be allowed outside and the ones who'd benefit from it most don't seem to be allowed outside, possibly because the antics of the former. 
A couple of the trees at the bottom of the hill are beautifully covered in Lichens, adjacent but almost completely different. 
This was half way and Frank was now pooped and kept lying down refusing to budge as much as another inch. Every so often something would peek his interest and he'd stop chewing his stick
The walk back was a slow affair but near the Honeysuckle we spotted a cluster of Cow Parsley breaking through.
At yet another stop we spotted a Daisy, the phone-cam can't deal with the exposure unfortunately, but spring looks like it's trying its best to get a head start.
A lengthy 500 yards retracing our steps followed. Turning in to our little street we saw Wifey had returned from her duties and using the jump leads it took only minutes to get the Land Rover back in to action - dohhh.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 in the morning, a battery charging drive down the Prom where the sea looked as calm as glass...hope it's like that in the morning.
In the meantime let us know how far you didn't get in your outback.