Skies full of geese

The Safari took the trail north over the border last week. As is usual for our longer journeys we kept a tally of the raptors we saw, it wasn't the best of days for raptors to be on the wing and that was reflected in the numbers seen, Buzzards 3 (of which we missed one) versus Kestrels 1. Dead things amounted to just one Fox (apart from a few Woodpigeons and numerous Pheasants recently released to be shot). Is there no wildlife left in the north of England, surely we'd expect more than that to end up squished along a 150 mile route?A comfort stop for Monty by the river in Dumfries town centre had us missing an opportunity to get a snap of a Goosander although it would have had to have been a phone-pic as the cameras were packed well down in the back of the car. Three Red Admirals basking on a tree trunk enjoying the warm sunshine was nice t...
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Elementary my dear Leach’s

The Safari is embarrassed to tell you that we dropped a huge bollard yesterday! The morning weather forecast was for a raging south westerly gale with rain coming on early afternoon., high tide was mid to late morning - that should have been enough to tell us to get down to the Prom for high tide and watch it down. But no, for some bizarre reason we had a bee in our bonnet about going to Stanley Park to see if we could come across the Ring Necked Parakeet that's been hanging around there for the last couple of weeks or so. Why???????????? Was the parakeet likely to come out of its hiding hole in a rampant gale, possibly not, would there be any Treecreepers out, probably not - are there any still there since so many of the big crinkly barked trees have been felled this year, really hope we haven't lost them as a breeding species in town but ...

A bit breezy down on the nature reserve

The Safari has been having to do curtailed early morning Patch 1 walks due to the darkening mornings and bad weather. Mostly we've only been getting to the top field and the Golden Triangle rather than round the park or the rough fields further on, not only are the rough fields rough but they are now like quagmires after all the rain we've had. Still we've had a few interesting sightings like our first Skylark (P1 #41) and Meadow Pipits (P1 #42) although the latter have probably been forgotten to be added to the spreadsheet on an earlier date, they also appeared over Base Camp in small numbers the other day while we were doing a bit of vegetation hacking (Garden #29) - It's like a jungle at the back and although we don't like tidying up habitats just for the sake of it - as has been done recently on the top field, they've stripped out all t...

Still searching for a Siberian sprite

The Safari has been diligently counting the birds in the park on Patch 1 most mornings much to Monty's annoyance as he would prefer to join his mates on the now very soggy field for a run around and rough n tumble before breakfast. So far we have had little migrant joy with mostly similar numbers of Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and Goldcrests recorded each morning, although the first Song Thrush since they went quiet at the end of the breeding season could have been  from elsewhere rather than a local bird.A morning visit to the nature reserve was a quiet affair, nice to hear several Skylarks, including a flock of 11, and Meadow Pipits going over though but not a lot else obviously moving - we still haven't had that 'big day' of visible migration.A quick peek under the refugium gave us another juvenile Great Crested Newt, maybe we should ...

Missed in the mist?

The Safari woke up in a bit of a dilemma this morning. Last night's rain came a good few hours too early to drop a good crop of migrants but there could have been something somewhere. Where to go? We wanted to catch up with a Yellow Browed Warbler and had a choice of two locations. It was either Patch 1 where there are some big Sycamores that they like or Monty's favourite field where there are some good patches of trees and scrub and is closer to the coast. In the thick clinging wet mist we opted for the latter. We pulled up in the car by the entrance gate to see a little male Sparrowhawk sat there waiting for breakfast of House Sparrow, a big flock of which roost in the thick bushes to the right in the pic wot we took through the car window - the moment it heard the motor of the window winder it was off.Winding our way round the pathways ...
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Where’s all the migrants?

The Safari was at the nature reserve fairly early this morning. Unlike our last visit there were plenty of Blackbirds particularly in the well berried Hawthorn hedge along the allotments. What a shame the farmers have already flailed off almost every berry on the roadside hedges round these parts - it's almost as if they don't want any wildlife in our countryside, those hedges have no shelter, no berries, no undergrowth and consequently probably hardly any invertebrates either. At least there's plenty of berries on the reserve although the Apples are taking a hammering from human thieves. A trio of Chaffinches flew over southwards as we walked down the track, a sign of some visible migration but we didn't see or hear much more, the seven incoming Tufted Ducks looked like they'd just flown across the field from the park lake. The usual ...

It might only be five minutes but arrrghhh!

The Safari is a little miffed! At the end of the previous post we told how we'd narrowly missed the Otter and a couple of Ravens down at Marton Mere well we did the same trick again the following day.We took Monty for a wander along the cliffs at Chat Alley on the rising tide with the intention of looking out for the 10 Bottlenose Dolphins that had been seen in the far southern corner of the bay off Hilbre Island the day before. The sea was too choppy there were white horses everywhere so spotting any cetaceans was going to be very tricky especially as we only had our bins with us, they'd need to be really close in to be able to see them. So we concentrated on the cliffs themselves as we walked northwards. All very quiet until a single Wheatear was found flitting about dropping in to the long grass to pick off some morsel sheltering from th...

Not quite dipping out

The Safari has been out most days this week. Most mornings we've been round Patch 1 at the crack of dawn mostly counting the Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens we come across. The other day we had a 'good' count of three Moorhens although with two juveniles around there should really be at least four present, and a singing Chiffchaff was a nice bonus to the usual 'extras' of Goldcrest(s) and/or Coal Tit(s). Visible migration has been slow to get going, Patch 1 has only given us a single Chaffinch and a couple of Greenfinches which could have been local birds although we rarely see them in or over the park and these were quite high 'overs'. The same morning as the singing Chiffchaff we had one grounded at Base Camp too.'Vis mig' over Base Camp has been limited to a solitary Meadow Pipit - where are they all??? - and a few skeins, up to a maxi...

Two trips to the Southside

The Safari has been enjoying the many superb pics of the recent Leach's Petrels along our coast - this one by young EM is a real humdinger! And what about these - awesome and a clever trick to get them. Unfortunately the wind didn't stay strong enough long enough or from the right direction for us a to get a pic of the little mites, yes we are a bit disappointed not to add Leach's Petrel to our Year Bird Challenge tally! We had to go down to the Southside on family duties on Thursday and to tire Monty out a little before we went visiting we had an hour's mooch around the excellent Lunt Meadows reserve. We say it's excellent but today it was rather quiet. The drive down had got our hopes up for a good morning's birding with a Jay flying over the car and both Buzzard and Kestrel seen close to the roadside in quick succession.At the first...

Maybe we didn’t peak too soon after all

The Safari went back out for the high tide the other day . The wind was still strong but by now had too much north in it, south of west is much better direction for bringing seabirds close to shore along our coast. But it had been windy a while and any birds blown in to the bay should start to come out and past us as the tide dropped. With the wind in that direction we had to walk well over a mile up Chat Alley to find somewhere sheltered enough to put the scope up. An adult Kittiwake a fair way out got our hopes up but there wasn't much else about, even the local gulls were keeping their heads down. Then we spotted it, a tiny dark dot between the crashing white of the breaking waves. We stuck with it watching as it weaved its way through the maelstrom of foaming water. What an awesome little bird a Leach's Petrel (172) is. Nothing mor...