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...

More spring arrivals

The Safari has been out n about recently. We've caught up with a most of the early migrant birds including a surprise, been herpetoligically challenged for a while and seen some quality solitary bees in new places.On Friday we spotted a Tawny Mining Bee in the street at Base Camp, a first here. CR has loads in his garden only 400 yards away and offered the opportunity to come over and take some pics on Saturday but we had family duties so couldn't take him up on his kind offer. Sunday saw us out early picking up BD on the way to the dunes. We parked up at our favoured spot and started to cautiously inspect every square inch of the dune along the track. We soon found our first 7-Spot Ladybird of the year, but that wasn't what we were after.Monty's keen nose sniffed at something on the road just in front of the car, we pulled him away as...
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Of fires, glyphosate and the annual dandelion cull

The Safari watched plumes of smoke rising from four fires over the Forest of Bowland (supposed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) as we drove back to Base Camp along the motorway last Saturday. The grouse shooting crew were burning the heather and everything in and under it sleepily coming out of hibernation in late March. Hedgehogs, Adders, Common Lizards, a multitude of invertebrates and any seeds lying on or near the surface get incinerated so as a few rich folk can kill lots of one species of wildlife. The following day we were having a mooch up the northern prom with Monty, GB and JH, looking across to the hills the fires were still burning and a fug of brown smoke hung in a narrow cloud across many square miles of lowland northern Lancashire at about 2000 feet up. Anyone else deliberately producing this amount of coloured smoke would...

The annual pilgrimage to dip the lesser pecker

The Safari left Base Camp without a winter jacket for the first time this year yesterday. We were on our way to meet up with our long-time birding buddies from the South-side for our annual rendezvous at the usual Lesser Spotted Woodpecker site.After a slight frost at dawn the day quickly warmed up and with sunshine and little in the way of wind forecast the decision was easily made to ditch the winter coat - a decision well made as it happened as we would have cooked had we worn it - the day was a scorcher for early spring.We arrived on site first and had a few minutes with another birder in the first hide which overlooks a large pool/small lake. A Great Spotted Woodpecker (118) drummed in the trees to our right. We're certain we've heard this already this year but neglected to add it to our year list. Numerous Chiffchaffs chiff-chaffed, W...

A bit of warmth is great isn’t it

The Safari has enjoyed another sunshine filled day today, well we would have done even more if we'd been able to get out and about a little more. We didn't get a look at the flat calm sea early doors but did have a little run out at lunchtime to the waste depot. Driving round the corner we saw there were a lot of gulls on the roof today but up at the top and out of sight from the only car parking spot.Most were Lesser Black Backed Gulls as is expected at this time of year, most of the Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls that frequented the piles of rubbish only a couple or three weeks ago are now in their breeding colonies/areas, whereas the Lesser Black Backed Gulls are still moving through.The gulls didn't move around much at all, we could have done with a Buzzard flying over to mix them up a bit and prove to us the Iceland Gull was defi...