No snow at Marton Mere

The Safari had an exciting day last Saturday. It started with a  bang! Well not so much as a bang but a loud call from a large finch-like bird that was loosely associated with a small flock of about half a dozen Greenfinches. We'd had a little bit of a lie in and were a few minutes later than usual taking Monty out on his first walk of the day. We took our normal route but as is now the norm didn't go as far as the field to meet his friends as it's a total quagmire and the amount of doggy pressure it's getting is giving us cause for concern for any overwintering butterfly eggs or caterpillars, how will they survive such trampling? We'll have to wait and see what the populations are like next spring and summer. Anyway that's by-the-by we took our shortened route just to the little field not really noticing much on the way, a Robin sang ...

Gee tha’s a cold wind

The Safari had a quick shuffy at our spreadsheets and discovered we'd not seen a Woodcock on Patch 1 before the other day making it the fortieth species we've found on the Patch so far this year. Not only that the Ring Necked Parakeet that flew over Base Camp on Wednesday was the 33rd species for the garden this year and the first of its kind ever! it came from the north...but from where??? We've heard one up at Monty's walkies field which is to the north of us, could it be that one and just how many are there around town now; three have been in Stanley Park now, an increase of two in recent days.Yesterday we joined the Wildlife Trusts Living Seas team for a rather chilly and very blustery two seawatch from the top of Rossall Tower. Storm clouds gathered and the sea tossed and turned but there was a good turn out despite everyone realising ...

Billhooks at the ready

The Safari was able to get a good half hour or so at Lunt Meadows after our family duties at the end of last week. The sun was very bright and we thought the main attraction wouldn't be out n about until long after we'd had to leave. Long time birding chum JG was able to join us and told us of a Red Kite seen locally the previous day, we looked but there was no sign of it today.  Walking the riverbank we could see hundreds of Pink Footed Geese in the arable fields, they weren't too far away and the noise of their conversation was a delight to the ear. We stopped at the viewing screens from where the Short Eared Owls are often seen but word on the street marsh was that we'd just missed one having a quick fly round. We waited and waited as long as we could but eventually had to leave and head towards the car park. From our next vant...

Wither has it wandered we wonder

The Safari had a morning on the North Blackpool Pond Trail yesterday. A conservation event had been organised with the Freshwater Habitats Trust to clear Willow trees that were growing in the pond to create a larger and unshaded area of open water. The pond is one of their 'Flagship Ponds' meaning it's one of the top 10% best ponds in the country. Its location between long-term footy fields and a housing estate probably means that there's never been any nutrient input like manure or fertiliser spread nearby and seeped in making the water too rich. The only inputs are blown leaves and rain!...and the leaves issue is being sorted.It was a chilly frosty morning and everyone was eager to make a start once the formalities of the health n safety briefing and the tools talk had been completed.Fortunately we had chain-saw wielding A from the FWT ou...

We like it at the lake

The  Safari saw a Flickr pic from PE the other day after we'd visited Stanley Park lake to have a look at the Scaup, but he hadn't posted Scaup pics but an interesting looking hybrid duck, presumably a male Pochard x Tufted Duck. With a bit of decent weather and hopefully some sunshine we arranged a lift with CR for an afternoon visit. There were a lot of Tufted Ducks on the lake but it didn't take long to locate the Scaup, they'd hardly moved since our previous visit a couple of days earlier.The Gadwall didn't seem to like the Scaup coming too close and regularly acted aggressively towards themThe light was marginally better today but all the Scaup were asleep, a small number of Pochards were having a doze nearby. It was when we were checking these few Pochards we noticed that the hybrid was with them, and like them was mostly as...

A quick but successful sprint round Marton Mere

The Safari took advantage of a sunny morning yesterday and picked up CR for a swift rush round the nature reserve. We had family duties in the afternoon so were time limited to make sure we got back to Base Camp to make all the necessary preparations. We had a particular target in mind and after the double success of the Scaup and Ring Necked Parakeet at Stanley Park the other day C was 'expecting' to see the Bittern(s?) and Otters, not that he's ever seen the latter here. At the wetland a Water Rail called from one of the pools and a Meadow Pipit got up from the long grass around the northern edge. At the main gate we decided to go round anti-clockwise for a change taking us to the Woodland Watch hide first. Here a Grey Squirrel mooched about with a small number of Chaffinches and a Dunnock. Over to the left two Apple trees had shed their ...

Over to t’other coast

The Safari has had a few days away across on the east coast. Lots of sightseeing along the Cleveland coast and in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park (aka North Yorkshire Moors dead zone - there's almost no wildlife at all!) but not a lot of time for wildlifing.We went to the picturesque Yorkshire harbour town of Whitby via Brough and Barnard Castle, where the castle is impressive looming large and austere above you as you drive across the river. As ever we did a Buzzards v Kestrels count during the journey, a not very productive Buzzards 2; Kestrels 0. Dead things were also recorded apart from the horrendous number of Pheasants, more of the 40,000,000 released in the autumn must get hit by cars than by the flying lead they are bred for, the only other thing we could identify was a drake Mallard. Along the motorway we had a Jay car...

Otterly brilliant

The Safari hasn't been out as much as hoped this week. Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our large Elm tree. There wasn't anything inherently wrong with it it had just become too big for the small space it was in and had begun to send up suckers all over the garden which could easily become a digging out problem in a couple of years time and could pop up in neighbours' gardens too. Sadly it means that there will be no chance of the local White Letter Hairstreak setting up a satellite colony at Base Camp as was the original hope when we planted it. Perhaps now the small subservient Rowan will be able to grow and maybe one day attract a Waxwing or two if the Blackbirds leave any berries for them.Many thanks to CP and his skill with the StihlToday we took Monty down to Marton Mere for a quick spin in the sunshine, once the early morning rain ...
Continue Reading » Otterly brilliant...

Twitching the dowtwichers

The Safari had a pretty good week out n about this week. We had a couple of morning visits to Marton Mere where we had a few Redwings and a lot of Blackbirds feeding on the Hawthorn berries along the wetland hedge.Lawson's wetland looking south eastAt the Viewing Platform many of the 300 plus Coot suddenly scarpered across the water for cover, we hoped the Otter or Bittern or perhaps a Marsh/Hen Harrier would come in to view but no such luck, it was a cat that had frightened them, not a fluffy one but a giant helium filled one - don't forget folks balloons blow so don't let go! Well all balloon releases are is glorified large scale littering; we can't believe they've not been banned yet and if nonsense like this waste of natural resourses weren't filled with helium they wouldn't float off in to the ether to land who knows where and cause wh...

Stealth rotovating by Hawfinches?

The Safari was able to get out on a couple of longer trips last week. The first was northwards up to Leighton Moss with CR. We arrived on site about half past 9 and went straight to the causeway that runs across the centre of the reserve. There were already a few people waiting at the grit trays where the Bearded Tits come to get grit for their gizzards as they change their summer diet of soft and squidgy insects to the harder and needing grinding up seeds of the Common Reeds they live among. Word on the street was that none had been seen so far that morning, which didn't surprise us as we normally get there far too early and spend ages standing around freezing our ******s off waiting for them appear. Fortunately it wasn't cold today and they did tease us by calling repeatedly both in front and behind us, at least we knew they were awake al...