The Safari was visited by Santa who scuttled down the chimney with a trail-cam...We like Santa! The drive down to the family was quite eventful but with no Roe Deer in the usual motorway junction/interchange. In our regular motorway count Buzzards narrowly beat Kestrels 3 v 2. We did see a nice herd of five Roe Deer in an area we've never seen them before. A flock of Pink Footed Geese rummaged across a stubble field while a large but not far from the end of the motorway not too far from Ma n Da's a large (but not that big by current standards) flock of several hundred Woodpigeons was settled in the tops of line of tall trees.
After family fun and feastings was enjoyed and we'd got back to Base Camp and started tinkering with our new trail-cam, checking the settings etc etc etc until we found a set of half charged up batteries and took the card out of the regular camera. we went outside and placed it on the edge of the patio.
Not expecting anything of note we flicked through the pics it had taken in the night...
There's no bait there, in fact we couldn't find anything in the flower bed that might have been of interest...Not seen a Fox in the garden for years...just how often do they come in? It's a wonder Frank doesn't get more excited in the garden cos if he gets a sniff of one when we're out mayhem usually ensues! Bait will be out tonight to find out which way they are/it is coming in...what a great start!!! Well chuffed and the logistics of lots of projects already being worked out.
After a bit of brekky we headed out to the nature reserve.
Frank was with us and we parked at the wetland which meant the morning was going to be a long walk for him. A Coal Tit singing just outside the reserve entrance gate was pick of the slow sniffy walk in. The previous two days the Long Eared Owls have been present but difficult, today they were back to being invisible. The swines! A Whooper Swan was on the water. Walking a little beyond the 'owls' we heard two very close shots fired followed by two more...from a second gun, too close together for a reload. Shooting/Armed Trespass is not allowed in the area we heard the shots come from. Frank was slow but we eventually reached the embankment where we could see what was going on - two guys working the perimeter of the closest field with a black Labrador.
Anyone recognise them? Let us know and we'll pass the details to the Boys in Blue. Maybe they should get a letter from our Legal Dept too.
Unfortunately we didn't get a clear shot of the second guy with the green wooly 'shooting' style hat on.
At 11.35 they let of a single shot which flushed about 45 Shoveler, half as many Teal and all the gulls from the east end of the nature reserve.
15 Cormorants were on the bund, one already had its white breeding thigh patch, two had flecks of white appearing. Five more Whooper Swans flew in of which we managed to get this horribly blurry pic of two of them. Think you just about be able to tell they are Whoopers.
Viewing the water from the hide we enjoyed the spectacle of about 1000 Teal being harassed by a Great Black Backed Gull. Just two male Pochards were found. Seven Gadwall were secreted through the Teal. Yesterday a huge count of nearly 250 Wigeon had been made but there was nowhere near that number today. A Cetti's Warbler sang from the reeds to our right.
We came out of the hide and saw two Redwings land in a bankside tree. As we approached to get within range for a pic PL came in to view. We took our eye off the Redwings and promptly lost them. But he had seen the leucistic Blackbird - it's not been seen since the summer as far as we know. Again a dreadful pic - it was at this point we discovered the camera was still set up for yesterday's indoor family pics - b*gger! At least four other Blackbirds hopped in and out of the Bramble thicket along with a Song Thrush.
We could still hear Whooper Swans on the water so went to see if we could get a better pic. They were with nine Mute Swans poking around in the reedbeds so no chance of a pic.
Behind them, sat on a post, being mobbed by Magpies was a Buzzard. The first one we've seen actually 'grounded' within the nature reserve. Buzzard and Whooper Swans in the same FoV at the nature reserve - must be Christmas!
Continuing the circuit we heard an unknown number of Fieldfares chacking away in the scrub behind the Feeding Station. At the FS itself there was very little save for a couple of female Pheasants.
Then it was back to Base Camp with a very tired and very very wet Frank for a left over turkey and stuffing butty or two and more fiddling with the trail-cam getting it set up for tonight's vigil.
Where to next? Might be back there tomoz, a Raven was seen in/over the nearby park this arvo - could that be 100 if it sticks around??? A Bewick's Swan would be nice.
In the meantime let us know who's breaking the law of the land in your outback.