The Safari has had a mixed end to our first week of retirement. We' been round Patch 1 a couple of times with Monty without seeing too much although two well grown juvenile Moorhens out on the lawn by the big pond was good to see, they probably hatched on the more vegetated and less disturbed smaller upper pond .
One morning we spotted a tiny moth on the outside kitchen window sill. It didn't look quite right for a couple of familiar common species so we took a couple of pics and then had an ask on Twitter who's experts came back with Small Dusty Wave. A common enough species which we'd already tentatively IDd it as, but one that hadn't already made it onto the garden list, always good to get a NFG!
That night we were back in Moth and Bat action leading an event at the top end of the North Blackpool Pond Trail. It was very well attended with over 60 people of which about half were children turning up.
On our bat walk as darkness fell we had both Soprano Pipistrelles, normal Pipistrelles, we heard them referred to as 'Bandit' Pipistrelles for the first time by one of the group - we've only recently seen that name in the literature. The Patent Bat Attracting Sticks came into play and didn't they do well. Everyone had great views as they whirled round the PBASs several times. Lots of people told us they had bats at home or at their holiday homes so hopefully they'll use the PBAS technology there and have great fun watching their own bats close up, Over the lake we had several passes of what were probably Daubenton's Bats, as they were skimming and sometimes touching the water although no-one had a torch quite powerful enough to pick out the white bellies at the range they were at. Turning our attention to the moth trap everyone gathered round the sheets laid on the ground eagerly awaiting the first moths to arrive. Before they did there were a lot of Chironimid midges, all black ones until one young lad presented us with a bright green specimen. There were lots of Crane Flies of various sizes all called by the alternative name of Bandy Long Legs rather than Daddy Long Legs by one little girl and an unknown beetle wit ha very broad head and a small caddis fly were potted. Eventually the moths began to appear as it became fully dark. Not a great selection but Large and Lesser Yellow Underwings wowed the crowd with their vivid colours and large size. Flame Shoulders were viewed as less impressive but a massive Old Lady had the crowd going "ooohhhh look at the size of that!"
All to soon the evening came to a close as the children's bedtime came and went. A cracking evening was enjoyed by all. Massive thank you's go to the CG and the Grow Blackpool team for the loan of the generator and to G U-P for helping lug the heavy brute around.
The following day we headed to the nature reserve early doors. It was quite a dull morning so we didnt take the camera, with that in mind we were convinced we'd come across something stunningly good and need an image but it wasn't to be. We walked the full length there and back without once needing to lift the camera if we'd have had it...it was exceptionally quiet. The only thing of note was an
Osprey that got LR and our pulses racing as it came over the tree tops but was in the end 'just' a pale-ish Buzzard flopping lazily southwards and a very mobile small mixed flock that had at least 5 Long Tailed Tits and three Whitethroats along with an unknown number of Blue and Great Tits and maybe some other bits n bobs too. A bit of a disappointing visit really. The biggy will come it's just a matter of making sure we pick the weather conditions and get the visit in on the right day. What it will be is anyone's guess!
That afternoon we went to the cliffs at the north end of town for the high tide spurred on by early morning reports of at least three Bottlenose Dolphins offshore early morning while we were at the nature reserve. We half expected them to put in an appearance as the tide rose or just after. It was a gorgeous summer's afternoon, warm sun - we half wished we'd worn shorts but then thought if we had we'd have ended up with sore sun-burnt knees - with hardly a breath of wind. The sea was calm with just a very light swell - ideal conditions for cetacean spotting...
The massive waste water pipe engineering works were underway with this barge, the Helge R, being filled by the dredger. It's a bit of a bizarre vessel in that it doesn't sink when it splits in two length-ways to drop its load of sand and mud away from the work site, a bit like the bucket on a grab-hire wagon. It's about three miles offshore.
|Although you could see a long way the visibility wasn't brilliant in the haze|
At the seawall end of the works there is a short section of the pipe still showing above the high tide waves before it disappears below the surface into a coffer dammed channel. By the end of the coffer dam posts we saw a Harbour Porpoise not far from the shore and definitely over what would be the beach at low tide. Sandwich Terns called loudly and fished close inshore, our maximum count at any one time all afternoon was 14 but there could easily have been many more than that coming and going up and down the coast. A long tailed raptor was too distant to identify and as we were straining our eyes at that we thought we saw the falcate dorsal fin of a Bottlenose Dolphin break the surface with a bit of a splash going the opposite direction much closer in. Well we searched and searched but saw nothing until much closer in still we saw a mother and calf Harbour Porpoises, break the surface several times. We don't think the adult was the same animal we'd seen earlier as we had several good views of it and never was there a hint of smaller animal with it. A couple of Razorbills (170) were sat on the sea nearby, can't believe they're our first of the year!
Still searching the waters to the northwest waiting for the Bottlenose Dolphins to appear out of the Lune Deeps we picked up another lone Porpoise a long way out, possibly the fourth individual of our watch. By now we'd run out of time and it was time to return to Base Camp to take Wifey and Monty out for a breath of fresh air before dinner.
We went to his favourite walk where he met some friend and Wifey chatted to their owners. A bit of bright sunshine brought a Speckled Wood fluttering our way which landed on some lovely bright red Rowan berries just within arms reach of our phone.
Yet another great day in Safari-land.
Where to next? Anything could happen anywhere this week! And we have a couple of cunning plans...Hopefully with a bit more time for ourselves now the rubbish wot we rite will be of a better quality - certainly hope so!!!
In the meantime let us know who's lurking in the dark in your outback