Frustrating ticks

The Safari has been out and about to all sort of weird and wonderful places this last week. The week started well with friend LGB phoning to say a couple of Little Terns were on their way to wards us past his watchpoint down the prom. Great stuff and a big thank you as they aren't a species we can guarantee to see on Patch 2. The eventually came past but were a little distant to 'enjoy' properly still they made it on to the list, Little Tern (147, P2 #48). More enjoyable was the lone Black Tern (14, P2 #49) milling around going back and forth with 11 Arctic Terns followed by a couple of Common Terns (149, P2 #50). So at last we got to see one of the throng of Black Terns that passed through the country last week, what a relief! No chance of getting any of those on the Year Bird Challenge though, the easy two we'll pick up later in the seaso...
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Somehow we missed all the Black Terns

The Safari could practically smell the Black Terns the other day. We had family matters to attend to on the South-side so wasn't able to get out early. News came in from far and wide of prodigious numbers of the wafty little waifs including not more than a mile from our destination. What better than to pop in to one of the sites before our visit to give Monty a run and fire off a few shots. But when we arrived the water was devoid of life bar a handful of gulls. We had a good walk round and still came across nothing of note apart from hundreds of people enjoying a lovely spring Sunday afternoon in the fresh air. We had to leave to go visiting and once home discovered that had we stayed another 30 seconds or so we'd have been in luck. Not only that one of our Twitter chums  @arborist2222 was watching several all the while we were there ...

Warbletastic – and not before time

The Safari has again had a few short nips over to the sea wall and Patch 2.  The other morning we were fortunate enough to see two Linnets out the back at work. We say fortunate when in reality they are now very scarce here after being a regular breeder until the Gorse hedge got too severely hacked in our absence one year. They were seen just after a heavy shower so were probably migrants from who knows where and were feeding voraciously on Dandelion seeds. We raced down the corridor to grab the camera as they were only a few feet from the window but as is always the way they annoyingly had done a flit by the time we got back and were not seen again. Now fueled up and with brighter weather after the shower they were keen to get on their way.By lunchtime conditions had deteriorated a bit. Looking out to sea it was as hazy as hell, focus...

Still flippin Arctic

The Safari has been on a trip up north with our birding chums from the South-side. We'd agreed to meet in the reserve car-park but only minor traffic on a Sunday morning had us due to arrive a few minutes early so we bunked into the old quarry for a quick look.It didn't take long to find one of the resident Ravens (134, YBC #113) sat in a tree-top.A scan of the rock face opposite had us finding the nest with four well grown almost ready to fledge youngsters in it.The female came in to give the nippers a feed, the nest site was high up at the far end of the quarry but even at that range we could see the red gape of the youngsters with our bins. but we missed the family moment with the camera only catching the female as she left.There was a Peregrine on a ledge too but other than that just the multitude of raucous Jackdaws. We thought we hear...
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Quick catch up with spring now springing

The Safari yet again has had only a few opportunities to get out this week and even when we have its been very much time constrained during the day. We've added Swallows to all our various patch lists now (P1 #33) P2 #45 & Garden #25) with the last one being over the garden this arvo while waiting for a delivery. A Willow Warbler (Garden #24) quietly sub-songing at the bottom of the garden at Base Camp before work yesterday was a bit of a bonus; the first here since 2012! There must have been a bit of an overnight arrival as there were two on Patch 1 too (P1 #32). Patch 2 yesterday gave us our first Manx Shearwaters (133) of the year when two sped northwards almost at the horizon, not entirely sure how we're going to get these on our Year Bird Challenge. The sea has been mostly very quiet.We've been reminded to record some of the plants...

A much better day but only poor pics

The Safari went a few miles north to meet up with GB and JH for a mooch along the prom again.The tide was well down and there were two ferries at anchor waiting for the tide to rise before they could get into Heysham dock, they have a 5.5m (18ft) draught, with our very long lens we couldn't get both of them in frame together.In front of the ship and stretching to the left is the 'new' shingle island King's Scar which has arisen about a mile offshore since the dredging of our smaller port has stopped. Looks good for nesting sea/shore birds like Ringed Plovers and terns (hopefully to include Little Terns). It isn't totally covered by most high tides now but how much higher can it get? Maybe that's what the ancient village of S(h)ingleton Thorpe was built of that was a good way off the current coastline. The village was lost in a storm in the ...

Spring continues to drag its heels

The Safari had family duties on Saturday and ended up on the South-side at a beach we used to frequent as a nipper but one we've not visited for many many years. We parked up in the against the developing dune at the side of the car park and with Wifey watched the Starlings and House Sparrows rummaging around in the vegetation for invertebrates and scraps. Behind us we heard some Linnets and above us Skylarks sang. As we waited for the rest of our party to arrive Wifey wondered why Monty's coat couldn't be iridescent like the Starlings' feathers...now that would be something - an iridescent dog!Once the others had arrived we set off on a dog walk along the back of the dunes seeing a Skylark sitting on the grass not 20 yards away and totally oblivious to the gang of lads knocking a football about...you guessed it - no long-lensed camera toda...

Spring seems to have unsprung itself

The Safari had a day off work yesterday and was out early on a cold blustery morning. The wind direction was totally wrong for migrants to fall but we left Base Camp off full of hope as birders always do. The now usual Cetti's Warbler was heard as we parked up at the gate to the wetland and seconds later the Blackcap in the boundary hedge fired up too. Other than those two regulars it was quiet, very quiet! We met up with old friend LR and set off to see what we could see.We listened along the way for any hint of Grasshopper Warblers but there was nothing to be heard. Down at the viewing platform the water was almost devoid of life, the male Mute Swan driving anything away that came too close to his mate on their nest in the reeds. Close by behind us were a Wren and a Chiffchaff and a something doing an unidentified song. It sounded re...

Mad migrants coming through

The Safari has been extremely busy at work with the culmination of the project happening yesterday afternoon. We have been a small cog in a large wheel getting a Dementia Friendly Family Garden built and not had much time for checking the rest of the grounds, lots of machinery disturbance along with the usual dog walkers from dawn til dusk and beyond.As you can see the press were there in force. Full press story here. We're hiding at the back somewhere in the top pic.We've  had few opportunities to nip over the road to see the sea and we new have there's been nowt to see anyway. The other day we had a couple of Gannets (129, P2 #40) cruise by and at low tide a gang of eight Carrion Crows were working their way along the more-substantial-than-usual strandline. Meanwhile a flock of 10 1st year Black Headed Gulls headed south-west al...

Wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

The Safari was up early today in eager anticipation of the change of wind direction to southerly. It was cold out though everywhere was white frosty, it was misty too.As soon as we opened the car door at the wetlands we heard a Cetti's Warbler burst into song which was then answered almost immediately by another on the opposite side.We set off with high hopes, passing the first Cetti's Warbler, a Chaffinch and a Blackcap singing in the hedge. Further away Blackbirds and Song Thrushes sang heartily.Nearer the reserve we began to hear Chiffchaffs but in the distance did we hear a Grasshopper Warbler? We stopped and listened - nothing, walking on a little further we thought we heard it again and stopped - nothing - - we put it down to either losing our hearing a bit or we were just catching the trill at the end of a Wren's song. It was co...