Saturday 16 February 2019

Over Wyre and back

The Safari had a wont to have a peek at the rarer geese that had been found last weekend in the fields and marshes Over Wyre. Our first port of call was the farmland bird feeding area where there were numerous Tree Sparrows, always good to see them, and Chaffinches but at the back of the flock was one of target birds for the day a nice tidy male Yellowhammer (PYLC #82). Lens issues meant that this was the best pic of it would could get and lens issues were to be a feature of the day!
We waited around for a good few minutes seeing a few Reed Buntings at the dropped seed but no sign of the much scarcer, and another of the day's target birds, Corn Buntings. Just round the corner from the feeding area is where the scarcer geese had been seen, feeding on waste potatoes left in a muddy field. A birder was already scoping the small flock but had had no joy. other small parties of Pink Footed Geese were dropping in every few minutes or so and there was a much larger flock on a pasture field but hidden behind a hedge. We left him to it and went for a look at the feeding station at the other end of the village, where we had a Great Spotted Woodpecker tapping away in the large tree beside the car and we did see a couple of Corn Buntings but were unable to get pics as we were looking right into the harsh low morning light.
Turning back to find out if there was any better news from the goose flock we passed a Barn Owl hunting a small patch of rough ground. It was too often obscured behind the hedge from our very limited vantage point for good pics especially as we were trying to not get any 'hand of man' in the frame - it does make life tricky! After a while it flew right over us and away over the field across the road.
Now was the time for that gorgeous full frame shot...but Lens Issues....arrrrggghhhh and we got lots like this - oh no man!
Back on our side of the road it hunted the field again for a while before moving away along the ditch to hunt a more distant hedgerow. We waited for a good while for it to return again hoping for that full face pic but it was so intent on hunting it didn't even register our presence.
A 100 yards down the lane there was now a little posse of goosers but between they they'd had no success. By now Monty had been in the car too long so we took him up to the nearby picnic area for a run and sniff. We had a drive down the adjacent lane and back first seeing a good sized flock of mixed waders including Curlews (PYLC #83) complete with more lens issues, Lapwings and Black Tailed Godwits but no (hoped for) Golden Plovers.
Out of focus Curlew
At the picnic site it was simply gorgeous, sunny and warm with barely a breath of wind - it's not often like that when we visit here. Out on the marsh there were a tidy number of Pink Footed Geese and lots of Shelducks further out on the mud. Overhead we heard the 'trilleeps' of passing Skylarks and the odd snatch of song. It was great to be out there at peace with the world just soaking up the view and sounds across the marshes to the snow covered heights of the Lakeland fells.
Far in the distance we spotted a dot winging its way towards us which had a falcony jizz about it and sure enough once in range of the bins it was indeed a Peregrine. The big question now was will the lens focus on it? Just about in the nick of time as it passed high overhead the lens locked on for PYLC #84. We'd already got a cracker of pic of a Peregrine 'in its usual place' so not allowable for our challenge and so we needed to get a flight pic, could still use a better one but this one will do just fine for the time being.
Out on the marsh the geese were getting closer but we couldn't find the recently reported Brent Goose, it may well have been well out on the interface of the marsh and mud or down a creek somewhere in-between.
It was very atmospheric out there - just lovely.
Pink Footed Geese with the snow covered Scafell in the distance
We had a wander round the track by the pool and played a bit of stick with Monty, enjoying the dappled sunlight under the trees illuminating clumps of Snowdrops.
So we didn't see any of the geese we'd hoped for but who cares it a beautiful day to be out on safari no matter what we did or didn't see.
Later in the week we had a couple of wanders around Stanley Park lake with CR. The first day was overcast and gloomy but for the second we had pretty good spells of sunshine. Here's a compilation of the two days pics in no particular order.
It's definitely spring when the Great Crested Grebes (PYLC #85) start dancing
A sunny Nuthatch (PYLC #86) on day two in the pose we really wanted to get
A lucky Treecreeper (PYLC #86) found only when Monty decided he needed to do his 'business' would have walked right past it otherwise
The regular wintering Black Headed Gull VLJ from Denmark (or is it Norway - we can't remember) has returned for its umpteenth winter - good to make its acquaintance it again
There are plenty of Coots on the lake forcing their way through the intolerable mass of Azolla.
The Cormorants won't swim through it although there's probably np point as there won't be any fish in the deadzone beneath it.
Look at that eye - what a colour, but why is it green rather than red like so many other diving birds???
The Gadwall don't seem to mind the Azolla, in fact they appear to be only birds that are eating it.
Stunning ducks - so understated but just look at those vermiculations
Is there anyone left out there who isn't aware of the insidious affect of plastic pollution on the worls's wildlife, well it's here too, our Great Crested Grebes are trying to build their nest with it rather than the traditional water-weed.
Sometimes we see pics of birds from foreign parts and get a little bit envious of the colours some of the have, but then ewe look around at our own 'common or garden' species and hey-ho that myth is dispelled those Great Crested Grebes are a bit bonny and their courtship dance is something special. All going to prove that you don't need to go far from your own front door to see some awesomely special wildlife.
Missed - took quite a few like this
And the third, unpaired bird, caught a Perch right below us as we were crossing the bridges.
Meanwhile the paired-up pair were doing some interesting behaviour.
Whast's with the drooping over the log aka nesting platform although it's no good as it keep rolling over when they try to build on it - an inexperienced pair on their first nesting attempt postulated by CR
The Heronry is getting into swing too with 17 birds sat on or near the large nests. Sitting was the name of the game as there were wasn't much flying about going on on either day and we had a good wait to get this rather boring shot.
On the first day it looked as though one was sitting but the nest was empty the following day, unless it was sitting very low indeed.
Can't beat a drake Mallard swimming quietly by in the sunshine.
Nearby the dry chackles of a Mistle Thrush had us looking up to see four of them arguing about territories in the top of the trees.
Backlit Moorhens
And back to that earlier Nuthatch
Doing their speciality trick - going headfirst down the tree
One of the five Ring Necked Parakeets
Then at the weekend we had a great surprise back at Base Camp. We were doing the washing up at the kitchen sink when a Grey Wagtail dropped in and landed on the edge of our pond, the first we've had since 2014 but it can't be counted for the challenge as it's on the wooden board at the edge, if only it had run to the far end where the bankside vegetation tumbles over the very realistic looking plastic rocks.
Through the kitchen window a bit of vegetation and the anti-Heron netting - who cares, well chuffed!
Where to next? We've got some safaris lined up based around the very high tides due to the 'supermoon'.

In the meantime let us know who's reacquainting themselves with your outback.

Monday 11 February 2019

Broke a few ducks this week

The Safari spent much of last week at Marton Mere where we broke a few ducks. The first was our first ever pic of a Great White Egret grounded there. Shame it was obscured behind the reeds.
The following day we saw it again stood on the correct side of the reeds but we were at the wrong ens of the mere so had to quickly walk down to the Fylde Bird Club hide for a closer look but as CR was unlocking he door it flew off. how annoying!
Our next duck was broken a few minutes later when at long last we stumbled across the pair of Stonechats (PYLC #78) that have successfully evaded us so far this year.
The male was a bit of nightmare for facing away almost all of the time.
After a while the pair sat up together on the edge of the marsh.
The males are bright but the females are quietly striking.
On our third visit we bumped in to a small group of House Sparrows (YLPC #79) bathing in a puddle.
More excitement followed when we let another birder in to the Fylde Bird Club hide and while we were chatting he called out "Bittern". A lifer for him and year bird for us as it flew past the hide
And then turned to land in the reds close to our right but unfortunately in the shade of the trees beside the hide.
Bittern - PYLC #80
Round corner the Stonechats were sitting high up at the top of one of the few bushes along the embankment - duck well and truly broken.
The female soon dropped down in to the tall grass below the embankment and disappeared but the male did the same and stayed on show.
With time short today we headed straight back the way we came rather than doing the full circuit. Getting back close to the feeding station we heard the first Great Spotted Woodpecker we'd had on site this year. A quick dart in to the hide and a short wait later and Bingo it hopped on to a tree before getting a feast of peanuts from the hanging feeder nearby.
The next day there was a high tide and a really strong wind so we headed to the coast to see if the wind had blown anything out of ordinary inshore. Not a lot over the sea but the tiny bit of beach left was the haunt of Turnstones.
And Sanderlings both of which where perpetually disturbed by dog walkers letting their mutts run on the minuscule bit of beach left uncovered by the waves. We'll risk the wrath of everyone with a dog but suggest that on any designated site like a County Biological Heritage (Local) Sites, Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ramsar Sites, SPAs, SACs etc etc and a dog is out of control chasing, or even encouraged  to chase, the wildlife or causing other disturbance it should be shot just like farmers can do with livestock! Constant disturbance can be a real life threatening problem for some species if it interferes with their ability to feed or provide for their young.
In the few quiet times a couple of the Sanderlings made time to have a proper bath, even though it was in saltwater.
Also on the beach was this Pied Wagtail (PYLC #81)  hopping around looking for Sandhoppers and Seaweed Flies disturb by the incomiing waves.
The wind was still strong on Saturday so we had a family day out along the coast to watch the waves and see what else was about. On the marine lake a lot of the Turnstones were roosting out of the wind on the small island but they were skittish moving around a fair bit.
A good sized flock of them wanted to feed on the roadside grass bank at the edge of lake and they were to-ing and fro-ing from the island when people passed by.
They should have been easier to get better pics given how often they were flying round our feet but our lens was playing up something rotten - it's got one last chance back at the repairers before it goes in the recycling and we have to fork out for a replacement.

Where to next? We've had a short safari out on a wild goose chase to tell you about

In the meantime let us know who's doing the duck breaking in your outback.