Friday 30 May 2014

Bees n stuff

The Safari was a bit disappointed to see fewer Gannets doing less on Patch 2 this morning. Little else about and no sign of the dodgy gull.
By lunchtime the tide was in and we were out again on the wall to see three widely dispersed Grey Seals. The same Gannets were still about and doing even less.
A walk down the corridor had us spot a cold bumble bee lurking close to the windows in the Gorse bushes.
Another sighting along the corridor was made by a colleague who pointed us in the direction of our first Cinnabar moth of the year which was sitting on the inside of the window frame.
Back at Base Camp the bee theme continued when we saw another Tree Bee drinking honey, which we've learned we should have been giving them golden syrup or sugar water is better although  it's not strictly for the bees exclusive use.
Minutes later another bee of an unknown species was on the sugar water soaked sponge lapping up the calories. Can anyone tell us what it is from its face?
It was only little so possibly Bombus pratorum???
Where to next? The garden bioblitz starts tomorrow so the mothy is out.
In the meantime let us know who's on the sweet stuff in your outback

Thursday 29 May 2014

More from Patch 1

The Safari had a great morning on Patch 2 watching about 30 or so Gannets diving for fish. Not much with them, where are the terns? Close in, only a couple of hundred yards behinds the very gentle surf they were diving very shallowly but further out they were plunge diving from way high.
Eight Shelducks went past but little else was happening.
At lunch time most of them had dispersed leaving three Grey Seals in their wake - nice but not cetaceans.
A fascinating Herring Gull was milling around with the other gulls. In all respects it was normal apart from the primaries on its left wing...they were Glaucous or Iceland Gull-like pure white giving it a weird asymmetry. In flight coming directly towards us it look strangely lob-sided. Sadly it was far too far off for a photo but we'll be keeping an eye out for it tomorrow.
While were waiting for for a crack at that gull here's some more pics from Patch 1 the other day
Bird's Foot Trefoil

Common Blue butterfly
Same one
Common Vetch
Perforated Elm leaf
Another one
Mating Water Measurers in the pond
More of the little so n sos
Mouse Eared Hawkweed - not seen this species here before
Parasitised Yellow Dung Fly

Frog in pond at Base Camp
Back to the Common Blue butterfly
Tenthredo sp
Same one
Wolf Spider with egg sac
Where to next? Think we'll be looking for a certain wonky gull and we've got another visit to the 'snake-pit' on the way back to Base Camp after work.
In the meantime let us know who's got the wonky colouration in your outback.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Back in the saddle

The Safari has been busy getting back to work but seeing very little on Patch 2.
A quick whizz round the almost forgotten Patch 1 after family duties the other day gave us our first local damselflies of the year.

Male Azure Damselfly

Female Azure Damselfly

Lots of other stuff too which has been photographed but not yet processed apart from this fuzzy Parasitic Wasp of Lordy only knows what species.
Should have the rest of them ready for your delectation later in the week.
Another brief sortie down the motorway to what is becoming one of our fave reserves gave us the following.
Bee mimicing hoverfly Leucozoma lucorum
Male Common Blue Damselfly
Early Purlpe Orchid

Giant Horsetail
Interlocking Beech and Oak trees
Large Red Damselfly
Redshank again
Ringed Plover
Snipe Fly
Swifts in the rain
 Where to next? Gotta be something on Patch 2 sooner rather than later.
|In the meantime let us know what weird and wonderful wildlife has been furtively lurking in your outback.

Don't forget to have a go at the Garden Bioblitz 2014 this weekend - we certainly are.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Back in the digital land of wireless gadgets

The Safari isn't sure if we're glad to be back in the 21st Century or not yet. It has its compensations but it does have a lot missing  - the garden here is almost silent compared with the constant birdsong of the last week.
Here's a bit of video from the stealth-cam, not sure what all that mist m'larky is at the end.

Surely the mist would be cool and not picked up by the infra-red or does it just pick up the temperature difference even if it's colder?
Where to next? More pics to show you from sunny Shropshire.
In the meantime let us know what who's been pottering around on your lawn

Wednesday 21 May 2014

All good things and all that

The Safari is going to miss this blissful little corner of Shropshire near the hamlet of Wentnor. What a week we've had even got a bit sunburnt today, don't usually see the sun on our holidays it always seems to be howling gales and torrential rain until the day we depart - not been like that here though, we've had almost wall to wall sunshine and certainly had wall to wall bird song. Right now as we type there's Blackbird, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Goldcrest songs coming in the rough the open kitchen door, and that's only a small selection of what can be heard around here. Last night we added a hooting Tawny Owl to the list whose wavering call came from somewhere across the river on the still night air.
We put some chopped eggs and cheese out for the Badger but he was a no-show. The chickens here have provided us with sunshine on a plate every morning!
We do have a bit of a mystery for you though as the stealth-cam gave us a bit of a ghostly thing for you to have a look at and decide what it might be caused by.
A few bats of unknown species, probably but not necessarily Pipistrelles, were flying around last night too, for some reason we forgot to pack the bat detector.
This morning we were  back at Cardingmill Valley and decided to hike up to the waterfall - hike might be a bit strong, it's less than a half hour stroll from the lower car park. It's not the world's biggest waterfall either but it does sit in a pretty tidy location even if we did have to wait ages for a school group to finish their geography fieldwork before we could take any pics - there's not much room up there!
On the way we saw our first Green Hairstreaks for ages, must be two or three, even four, years since we last came across this lovely little species of butterfly. They were to hot today for pics flitting around like mad things then dropping deep into the Bilberries without giving any chance of pics. Above our head in the clear blue sky a brilliantly bright male Stonechat danced in his song flight, another new species for the hols, and Meadow Pipits were everywhere.
On the way back down we found a rather tatty Latticed Heath moth but no further sign of the Green Hairstreaks.. 
We called in at the office to find we'd just missed our mate who'd was out in his tractor but had a quick chat to another old acquaintance from our days on the dunes in the's almost as if the valley was made of  Formby sand this week! Really great to catch up even if we didn't have anywhere near enough time to chew the fat properly.
A great week in a stunning and incredibly peaceful location - apart from thta Song Thrush which literally hasn't shut up all the time we've been here!
Where to next? Back to Base Camp and a week's worth of pics to work through and chose the best to up load for you.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the dancing song fights in your outback.

Monday 19 May 2014

Another little belter in the garden

The Safari has been busy mooching about in various places including a successful BBQ. Whilst at the BBQ we saw a few decent birds going over as we chowed down on burgers, pork steaks chicken wings, spicy sausages etc...even a bit of salady stuff!
A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over as did a few Mallards. The local House Sparrows and Blackbirds garden hopped back and forth from their nests. Overhead the big interest was in the Swifts which were swirling round screaming and mating prompting LCV to think about investing in a nest box for them next year. 
Today we had another morning at Cardingmill Valley and met up with our old chum 'DC from C' who we've not seen for the best part of 30 years! The swine has a tractor to play with as well...a big green one and associated fun kit like little 4x4 mules. Lucky devil.
Back at temporary Base Camp we had another wander along the stream before the forecast rain started. We were looking for Beautiful Demoiselles but there weren't any out this arvo. A few spits of rain came down and just after a movement to the side of us caught our eye...only a male Pied Flycatcher (156)! Had that been there all morning while we were away, we didn't see it on our early morning round, or had the light shower dropped it in front of very eyes. Holly Blue was a new butterfly for us here.
This little patch is really providing some good stuff.
We watched a recently fledged Wren trying to hide in the shrubbery and were privileged to witness a parent coming in to feed it a beakful of what look like Mayflies of which there are plenty emerging from the river at the moment. 
Nice wildflowers are blooming too, the lawns are full of Bugle, the hedgerows bursting with Greater Stitchwort and the riverbank has a few Yellow Archangels out.
Still no chance of adding any pics for you - it's gonna be a pic fest when we get back to permanent Base Camp! 
Where to next? Not sure what's happening tomoz, could be a bit weather dependent.
In the meantime what was hopping around in the shrubbery in your outback.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Up high

The Safari had a lazy morning watching the chickens in the garden and listening to the birdsong, there's very little traffic here to detract from it.
Interweb connection here is on the dire side of poor so no chance of uploading pics, it's so remote yet only a short drive to one of the UK's largest conurbations and we're down in a valley so mobile reception is almost non-existent too. And do you know what, we're not really missing the trappings of modern life.
We've been to the pub and had a few beers in the sunshine but mostly the garden here has kept us interested.
Spotted Flycatchers (155) arrived today, looks like we've got a pair by the little waterfall on the stream here and we heard a Cuckoo (154) yesterday at the National Trust honeypot Cardingmill Valley - gorgeous little site we'll have to go back to and explore in much more detail.
We're still a little way behind arch rival year-lister Monika who is now on 168.
Other stuff in the garden has been lots of Green Veined White and Orange Tip butterflies with singles (so far) of Brimstone and Red Admiral.
Top of the inverts has been a couple of Beautiful Demoiselles one nearly managed to get its picture taken! We've tried the moth trap without the box and found a White Ermine and a Cockchafer beetle clinging to thee adjacent wall.
Ages ago Aussie Glen asked us to get some pics of a favourite animal of his from here and so far we've failed miserably...very miserably...until now...Success Aussie G but it's so long ago can you remember what it was you wanted?
Where to next? A brief visit back to civilisation tomoz for a birthday party for Wifey with LCV and family...he's promised us a BBQ so get yer brollies ready for the deluge.
In the meantime let us know what's escaped from civilisation in your outback

Thursday 15 May 2014

A little trek

The Safari has had a bit of a road trip southwards today.
We did the usual motorway counting game which had the following outcomes:-
Buzzards 8 v 2 Kestrels
Dead Badgers 2 v 0 dead Hedgehogs....not sure about that one 60 miles on motorway and 60 miles on rural main roads where are all the squashed Hedgehogs, good to see no dead ones but very worrying to see none at all - suggests a very low population.
Also seen was a Hare and a dead Barn Owl and a Yellowhammer close to our destination was heard through the open car window.
Before we left Base Camp had a remarkable first. We'd filled the feeders and in the small one put some mealworms for the local Robin. He didn't get a look in cos a small party of Starlings found it somehow. Starlings are a very rare visitor to the garden at Base Camp, huge flocks fly over from their winter roosts but to get one in the garden is really rare, they just never come this way preferring to stay on the far side of the main road  so how on earth did they find our feeder? Smell???

Pics taken through the kitchen window.
Where to next? Hmmmm not sure yet.
In the meantime let us know what mega common rare appeared in your outback
No Twitter down here and the phone barely works - it's like having an arm cut off!!!

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Missed it but what was it?

The Safari has had a lazy day today doing not a lot all day. The day started poorly when we emptied the moth trap to find absolutely nothing in it whatsoever, the nearly full moon must have had an effect although the temperature didn't drop that far.
We spent most of the day doing chores and just sitting around in the garden enjoying the sun drinking tea. 
Nothing much was happening, brief visits to the the feeders were made by the Greenfinches and Goldfinches but we didn't see too many by the Great Tits who's nestlings must be close to fledging from the House Sparrow terrace. Musical interludes were provided by the Blackbirds, a Wren and a Robin.
Invertebrate interest was rather thin on the ground even though it was nice and warm and sunny all day. Best was an unidentified small white butterfly, very likely on jizz to be a Small White rather than a Green Veined White. Our Tree Bees didn't seem to be in and out too often.
We took Frank out for his pre-teatime walk and today he decided to go quite a bit further than he's been for a while. On the way back we were 20 yards from the front door we noticed some gulls acting suss. Looking harder we saw they were mobbing a dark raptor about their size coming our way. It was soaring round in circles easing its way northwards trying to avoid the worst attentions of the gulls, didn't appear to have the raised shallow 'V' of a Common Buzzard but it was a bot too far away for naked eye detail to be definitive. So close yet so far, trying to get Frank to speed up is akin to trying to break the speed of light - or more accurate the speed of dark. It seemed an age to get to the front door get through it grab the bins and get back out. By the time we had the bird was over CR's house and going away from us so we couldn't get much detail on it. We phoned him straight away and he grabbed his camera out but by the time he'd got outside with it the mystery bird had disappeared although he said that the gulls were still milling around.
So what was it? We think we might have just missed a Honey Buzzard gently easing its way northwards - did we - dohhhh
Plants in the garden are looking good, our native Bluebells in the back are still going strong but the Spanish Bluebells in the front are coming to an end now.
Where to next? No moth trap tonight, looks like rain, not sure how much safari-ing we'll get done tomorrow Wifey ahas a little something lined up.
In the meantime let us know what was soaring northwards in your outback.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

A walk in the woods

The Safari forget to mention a couple of interesting sightings from yesterday's trip to the far end of the motorway.
First up as we arrived at the empty car-park there was a couple of Oystercatchers fast asleep on the tarmac. Later on the way up to the viewpoint in the pic we passed the now fairly full car park to see a Brown Hare trotting across it weaving in and out of the stationary cars....slightly incongruous. We hoped it would settle in the rough grass at the edge of the car-park but instead it went in to an area of tree planting and out of view.
The visitor 'village' on the right is built on a floating concrete slab and even has good old fashioned drawbridges, these are powered by modern hydraulics rather than burly mediaeval yeomen.
Our second look at the first lake gave us five Whimbrel now on the island, a good number for us to see but a fraction of the mid-migration roost that was here last week.
Today we threwe open the curtains early doors to see it was still raining - oh no, the moth trap was gonna be soaked again!
Very little was inside other than soggy egg boxes. We disturbed and relievedly potted a Common Pug before coming across a faded female Bee Moth under the egg boxes...great catch for mid-May - NOT!!! Where are they???
Towards lunchtime we headed out in a horrendous downpour with Wifey and Frank to a popular Sunday countryside venue for the masses, great that it was Tuesday, there was no one there. Weather musta put them all off, but no matter the weather had get well ahead of us and left us with warm sunshine and a light wind - perfect for what we wanted.
A short walk got us to our quarry, from the old quarry we'd parked in! All around were Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Wrens and Chiffchaffs singing but Wifeys keen hearing soon picked up the Guinea Pig like squeaks at the end of the song. A few more yards brought us out of the trees into more open ground and she pointed to a tree-top - 'up there, there's one. Tree Pipit (153) singing from the top of a group of isolated Spruce trees.
Overhead there was a Redpoll calling and back towards the car-park a flock of Siskins was calling persistently but unseen. There looks to be a huge cone crop this year so bring on the Crossbills in a few weeks.
Twitch done and Frank needing a rest - he fell down a drainage cut and rolled over getting up he looked round in a embarrassed manner hoping no-one had seen his faux-pas - we had! - - it was time to get some lunch at a nearby establishment selling good nosh and some fine beers.
The adjacent canal is full of ducks which demanded bread and they got it. 
While waiting for our order to arrive we swigged a nice pint of Old Nells and watched the House Sparrows including a recent fledgling nick bread from the tip of the ducks' beaks. Top birds shame they refuse to visit the garden theae days, love their constant  conversation.
The Swallows were going in and of the eaves underneath the thatched roof while Swifts screamed overhead and a Raven cronked as it went south at height - a cracking place to grab a bite to eat.
The moss is amazing, over an inch thick!
Another nice day out with a bit of quality ssafari-ing thrown in for good measure.
Where to next? The mothy is on again - no rain forecast but we'll see in the morning!
In the meantime let us know what's been spotted while chomping on scram in your outback.

Monday 12 May 2014

The Scent of May

The Safari was on the road a fraction before 07.00 heading to a nature reserve at the other end of the motorway. This is one we've been visiting on and off for the best part of 25 years, more frequently when we lived nearer although it wasn't a reserve then but still a working quarry. The plan weas to do something we've neot done there before - walk all the way round!
First up we headed for the larger of the two lakes with the big island in it. There was a decent selection of waders. Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers aplenty. But were there any others?
You lookin at me?
Of course there were, Common Sandpipers (151) all over the place and displaying for fun, later we'd see some mating action.
A Whimbrel poked its streipey face above the Ox-eye Daisies in the middle of the island - too far for a proper pic. 
It was superb out there, rain had threatened but it blew over leaving a mild morning in its wake. The heady scent of May blossom filled the air, shame most of the hedges between the fields we saw along the motorway have been flailed to death and showed little signs of the lovely white flowers. Everywhere Wrens, Dunnocks, Song Thrushes,  Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats sang. Turning the corner we walked along the side of the lake parallel to the motorway, the roar of rush hour traffic was loud but our ears soon became accustomed to it or blotted it out to hear the birdsong instead. 
We didn't see anything of real note from the hide beyond the hide except for a Whitethroat working its way through the bushes to one side. While we were watching that something tickled our eye and we could make out a shape far to close to see properly. Putting the bins down the culprit was an Alderfly.
A Roe Deer doe burst out of the Nettles only a few yards from us and bounded into the nearby copse at the bottom of the motorway embankment.
Following the way it we went in to the woods where the air became cool and dame for a p, it was really verdant in there, the slope to our left being clothed in Ancient Woodland complete with huge Wild Cherry trees.
Everywhere around was the sound of Blackcaps and Wrens, the place was alive with these two species. Several mature trees had crashed down in recent storms their shallow root plates showing how the roots can't penetrate the heavy clay too easily. One of the cleared stumps had a lovely Black Slug slithering its way across it.
Did you spot the hitchhiker?
A jogger ran past and a few paces further on we saw something twitch through the trees a few yards away, despite its size if it hadn't have moved we might not have seen it. A lovely Roe Buck.
Looks like he's got a Bluebell stuck on his head!?!
But no, wait a minute he's getting up he was lying down and the Bluebell was 'normal' sized.
 Time for one more look at us.
 What a stunning animal and only two miles from the City Centre,and he had a friend. He walked off up the hill out of sight gave a little bark and his mate appeared out of seemingly nowhere, gave us  glance and then promptly followed him.
We continued on our merry way coming out of the woods and back into the meadow area where three Longhorn Cattle graze top keep the area in ti[ top condition for breeding waders.
Talking of waders we had another look at the lake and found an Avocet sitting,watching for a few minutes another arrived and we witnessed an intimate change over ritual even seeing the tops of the eggs. If we'd have told yu 10 years ago we'd be watching
Sand  Martins and Swifts cruised overhead as it warmed up, a pair of Swifts mating in mid-air.
Further scanning of the island gave us a sitting Little Ringed Plover (152) right on our photo limits.
Also strutting around the margins was a a pair of dapper Dunlins and the most gorgeous summer plumaged Turnstone which we were unable to refind for another birder although we did get him on to the Avocets, a lifer for him.
All too soon it was time to leave, we could have easily spent another four or five hours here cos we still haven't ventured deep in to the Ancient Woodland area.
Not much happened for the rest of the day other than household chores until we checked our emails to find our Extreme Photographer had sent us a couple of pics.
Ant's face - practise shoy
His female Dunnock pretending to be a male Mandrill by the looks of it
Enough excitement for one day!
Where to next? Not sure what's happening tomorrow but the mothy is on.
In the meantime let us know how far round your outback you got today.