The Safari arranged to meet up with CR for an early morning jaunt in the big park.We arrived a few minutes after 08.00 and walked straight to the lake as CR was after getting some pics of the Great Crested Grebes doing their weed dance. However we couldn't see any grebes at all.
The sun was peeking over the trees on the other side of the lake and lit up the woods we were looking into. Before we set of we had a bit of a list of target species to add to our Photo Year Bird Challenge. It wasn't long before we came across a photo-opportunity of one we should have had on our list already. This morning we'd already heard several but not seen them tucked up in dense patches of vegetation. This one kept moving from song perch to song perch keeping a wary eye on us all the while. This must be one of the few Wren (YBC #89) pics in which its tail is stuck up at a jaunty angle.
We wandered as far as the big logs where kindly folk have put up loads of feeders, unfortunately they were all empty today so we retraced our steps expecting to bump in to CR somewhere along the lakeside. We hoped to find a couple of other woodland specialists but we had no luck, didn't even hear a peep out of them. At the bridges CR txtd to say he was down by the Heron Island. Passing a lively but 'unpicable' Goldcrest on the way. There was a Great Crested Grebe down there but you need two to tango.
Up in the trees on the little island we counted 27 nests although we doubt if all were occupied. Some had birds sitting tight barely visible over the edge of the large structures. Others were still standing around in their pairs, not having laid any eggs yet.
With no grebe action we moved on spying a Mistle Thrush (YBC #90) fly across the road and landing in the top of a tree.
A few Shoveler were nicely lit up in the morning sun but a little distant so we carried on round hoping to catch up with our woodland target. C had brought a bag of seeds and laid them down in small handfuls to see who might approach, mostly the Feral Pigeons.
Eventually we did manage to attract some Blue and Great Tits, many are now paired up and food isn't the only thing on their minds. Several pairs of Blue Tits were investigating holes and crevices in the few remaining older trees, far too many seem to have been cut down recently which could be the reason we were struggling for some of target species. So far we had two out of five of the hoped for ones.
While waiting for the woodland birds the sun was positively warm on the top of our shoulders for the first time this year and very welcome it was too, Looking the other way across the lake the bright sunshine made for interesting silhouettes like this Moorhen.
By now we'd run out of time. C was starting to head back to the Heron Island and we were going back to the car he saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, we'd expected to have heard one drumming by now but there hadn't been so much a s a single peck from them. It landed high in a tree and wasn't seen again. Then we heard a Nuthatch calling in the distance and we both headed towards the sound. After a good deal of searching we found it, or rather them - there were two.
Even though we'd walked a good way they were still a long way off and well up in a big Poplar tree.
Poor we know but never mind they all count. After enjoying the Nuthatches (YBC #91) we went our separate ways. Almost back at the car we heard a Goldcrest singing and went to look for it. Minutes later we found it in a small Fir tree hunting spiders and the like just above head height. Goldcrest (YBC #92) was the fourth addition to our YBC tally and a bonus as it wasn't on our list of five hoped-fors.
So in to the first week of March and we've photographed 92 species out of 112 seen/heard, a strike rate of 82% but we've probably got way more than half of our final total.
In other news we dipped on the local Iceland Gull at the waste depot again yesterday - not a gull in sight! And again yesterday in the park with Monty we saw a Moorhen (P1 #24).
Once back at Base Camp this morning a commotion by the gulls had us racing outside bins in hand to find the first Buzzard (Garden #19) of the year circling high northwards roughly over CR's place. A Pied Wagtail (Garden #20) passed over while we were out too, migration has started at last. On the way back from th park this afternoon with him we had Patch 1's first Lesser Black Backed Gulls (P1 #25) of the season.
All good stuff, we could get used to this birding m'larky - apparently having birds nearby is very good for you.
Where to next? Might try to the nature reserve tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's not seeing the wood for the trees in your outback.