The Safari took advantage of some early morning sun in the weather forecast and planned a trip down the coast to the local lizard hotspot. CR drove the few miles south and pulled up in what he thought was a rather unusual spot, it was the right place and it is possible with a bit of luck to spot our quarry from the driving seat of your motor.
It wasn't to be today as we had to walk up and down the bank a few times, taking care not to let our shadows fall on the vegetation. It took a while but eventually persistence paid off. Hiding under an extensive amount of overhanging Marram Grass was the first Common Lizard of the morning. Cautiously we approached as close as we dared to get a good luck at the little beauty.
They like bare patches of sand that are lightly covered by vegetation. For some reason they don't seem to like to bask out in the open as they do on boardwalks, or rocks, at other places. Maybe next time we should take a rake to pull away some of the excess dead grass to make spotting them a tad easier.
We walked up and don a few more times, the sun was warm but the wind was still chilly. As the sun gained a bit more strength we found a second, smaller individual right down at the far end of the bank but up high at eye-level. Again it was well concealed and we were lucky to spot it.
At first glance we thought it had lost the tip of its tail but when checking this pic we found it does indeed have a full tail.We were able to get CR on to it before we made the fatal error of moving a little too quickly too close and it darted back down its almost invisible burrow in the sand.
With that one gone we had a check on the first one before we had to leave and it was still there warming up.
|Can you see him? Would you have spotted him?|
As CR drove away we took the liberty of having a look and yes we were able to see it from the passenger seat of the car as we passed.
The weather deteriorated as we approached base camp and then got worse throughout the rest of the day so we were rather fortunate to have had such good views.
The following day we got news of a family of Tawny Owls in a local woodland. We saw one there many years ago while leading a moth and bat night and heard one calling when we helped out with moths and bats on a nearby Bioblitz about three years ago. We arrived at the site to see a pair of Stock Doves at the nest box, never seen one at that site before, but way above them in the topmost branches of the tree we found two fledgling Tawny Owls (YLPC #111). They weren't easy to get a pic of, trying to hold a heavy lens still while pointing it almost vertically isn't easy and we fired the ISO up to the giddy heights of 10,000 to get anything a shutter speed to knock out our wobbling.
There was no sign of the adults, with the Stock Doves going in the nest box they probably weren't in there! Maybe they were hiding in one of the Ivy covered large trees scattered about. Fortunately one our chums, PL, got a pic of an adult later in week.
Behind us is a pool where a Little Egret was fishing.
With time to spare we wandered up through the woods and beyond with Monty coming across our first singing Blackcap (140) of the year, Chiffchaffs and eventually a singing Willow Warbler (141) but we couldn't get the camera on to any of them.
In the afternoon we met up with GR and had a mooch along Fleetwood Prom spotting not a lot apart from a couple of very brief views of what was probably a Harbour Porpoise out beyond the distant light surf.
A couple of scans of the golf course didn't give us any Wheatears but we did eventually find one on the beach. The local flock of Linnets gave us the run around, mostly as they kept being flushed by dog walkers. But with a little luck and patience we managed a couple of pics of a singing male.
Today we met up with CR again and went for another look at the Tawny Owls but they were nowhere to be seen this morning. There were plenty of other birds calling and singing in the woods, Nuthatches, cheeky Blue and Great Tits, Robins, noisy Wrens and singing Blackcaps. But again none of them were for posing for the camera so we drove round to Marton Mere in the hope of some summer migrants perhaps a more unusual one or two.
It didn't take long to hear a Blackcap and a Song Thrush hopped around in front of us until a camera was pointed at it and it went shy a flew in to cover. Cetti's Warblers sang all around us but remained invisible. By Heron Hide two Cetti's Warblers one either side of us tormented us by singing loudly at each other but refusing to show although we did see a presumed pair of Lesser Whitethroats (142) there to add to the one we'd seen earlier, a possible fourth was nearby too but could have been the first one that had moved across the path while we were looking for the Cetti's Warblers. Also from there we heard our first Reed Warblers (143) of the year.
The embankment, south east corner and Bird Club hide were quiet but coming out of the hide C noticed a couple of small bees resting on a fence post. They looked like a species of mining bee but neither of us were sure which one.Tawny Ming Bee, as were the males seen earlier with their prominent white beard.
We looked for more as we passed the profusion of flowers on the Blackthorn bushes but none were seen.
At the damp meadow there were a few patches of Cowslips in flower and far fewer than in previous years patches of Snakeshead Fritillaries. Where have they gone? Surely the bulbs haven't drowned over the winter months???
Above the Fritillaries the gulls were going bonkers and eventually C found the culprit, a very high soaring Buzzard which did drop lower and drift off to the south.The feeding station was disappointingly devoid of life so we didn't stay long.
The walk back to the car gave us a lone Swallow (MMLNR #66) hawking insects in the lee of the line of fruit trees alongside the track.
So a grand morning out despite the disappointment of not seeing the Tawny Owls and the frustration of not being able to get the camera on the warblers but as ever with wildlife there's always a surprise and always something new to see even if you don't see what you set out to see.
Where to next? A safari up the motorway beckons...
In the meantime let us know who's tipping the scales in your outback.