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 from a garden, there were a couple of Blackbirds in their usual spots by the shrubbery and a very optimistic Woodpigeon coo-coo-coooo-coo-coo'd in the chilly distance. We not noticed the small flock of finches in the largish Sycamore tree we pass beneath, that is until we looked up to see what had made that call that was so unusual we've never heard the like of before. There, with the half a dozen Greenfinches, was a much larger 'finch'. The Greenfinches circled round and landed back in the top twiggery where they often sit up in the Sycamore tree but the odd one kept going over the rooftops in the direction of the park giving another couple of single calls. So what was this call like? Loud, slurred disyllabic and quite musical.
We asked the Twitteraty the question as it to what it might be and within minuted renowned birder AM @leicester_llama came back with Pine Grosbeak or something escaped - well we had a listen on Xeno-Canto and knock us down wiff a feaver we soon found this, the first European recording we listened to and it doesn't half sound reeet like what we'd heard earlier especially the single calls in the middle of the recording - we didn't hear it make any double calls. But was it a Pine Grosbeak or something else??? Unfortunately we weren't able to get out later and have a search for whatever it was so it'll remain a mystery.
The reason we were unable to get out is because we were on our way to Manchester with Wifey. And why were we going to a big city? To see Queen with Adam Lambert of course - again. And as with last time a couple of years ago it was an awesome gig. Monster graphics and lighting effects with of course a good two hours and more of belting rock n roll almost all different tunes from the last tour; well Queen's portfolio has a fair few songs to choose from - only 14 albums!
Photos from Wifey's camera.
|Frank the friendly robot|
|Adam - "I want to ride my tricycle"|
Adam Lambert, a runner-up in a USA X-Factor series, was just nine when legend Freddie Mercury died - he doesn't pretend to be Freddie he's got enough 'camp' ego of his own and to be fair although Freddie appears in some incredible 3D graphics Adam is still the star of the show, cracking voice, great stage presence and wicked sense of humour 21st Century Queen wouldn't exist without him.
A tricky drive back to Base Camp through some serious snow showers and motorway warning signs showing 'Severe Weather Expected Tomorrow Expect Delays' gave us a taste of things to come in the morning.
The morning came and with it cold cold cold but not a flake of snow in sight. With sunshine to good to waste we called CR and arranged a quick trip round Marton Mere.
The feeding station was busy with a maximum count of 29 Blackbirds feeding on windfall Apples under one tree with a couple of others lurking further the back too. Monty managed to get his lead tangled in LGB's very expensive tripod legs at the Viewing Platform and while we were carefully extracting him we missed a short flight from one of the Bitterns. The water was mostly frozen with a couple of open areas holding good numbers of waterfowl but it was the gulls roosting on the ice we were most interested in. Would the recently returned Iceland Gull be on there?
Before we entered the hide we had to 'tidy up' after Monty and lose the plastic bag - in doing so we missed another Bittern flight this time C managed a 'record' shot. Dohhh only an idiot would have a dog.
There wasn't much else on offer and we soon ran out of time anyway.
So no Bittern pics or Iceland Gulls to add to our Year Bird Challenge tally but we were greeted by this beast as we drew up outside Base Camp.Black Tailed Godwits flew by. We'd bumped the dial on the camera and knocked the settings to Lordy knows what.
While scanning the gulls two Ravens cronked as they flew seawards. Only the second time we've seen them here. By the time we'd seen them they were past us hence the backside shots.
A last look from the Viewing Platform gave us three Redshanks sat on the ice before flying off to the south.
But better was to come. we had a very brief view of a Bittern and called out to some visiting birders in the nearby hide. We didn't get a reply so went to chat to them and discovered they hadn't seen it. While we were chatting one of them spotted a Fox out on the ice at the far end of the mere. We'd seen probably the same individual dart across the path near the bridge down that end earlier.Bittern flew from where we'd seen it land a few minutes earlier and this time we managed to get a couple of dodgy shots off.
Not perfect but we're happy enough. Better still the second one followed a couple of minutes later.
Time to go; with a big smile on our face!
This morning we had a half hour looking for the Iceland Gull at it's favourite waste disposal depot. There were hundreds of gulls on the roof but mostly out of sight. Our best bet was going to be getting a pics of them as they left the roof en-mass and hope the Iceland Gull could be found on the photo. We might have been better with a wider angle lens as we weren't getting many in the frame.
A movement down to our right caught our eye, a Dunnock was doing a bit of kerb crawling picking up tiny morsels of ???? as it went.
Where to next? Back at the waste depot and/or a brief visit to Marton Mere in amongst Christmas duties.
In the meantime let us know who's got cold feet in your outback.