24 March 2012

Maybe tomorrow...

Ok, so for the second weekend running I chose to spend my Saturday morning trudging around 'The Patch' - It happens every year, spring arrives and I get that uncontrollable urge to stomp around the sacred paths, paddocks, pasture and boggy stuff searching for recent arrivals for a few weeks until come mid-April, the little black beepy box starts giving it some beepage and I forget the hallowed turf of KMR in favour of additions to my BOU England, Scotland & Wales list.
Anyhow, this morning I arrived at the rather late time of 7.30am. Now this aint an admission that I overlay, no siree, I was up and ready to go at 6am but a glance out of the window and not being able to see my motor on the drive due to some fog enveloping everything it could touch, forced me to wap on the kettle a few times and await some clearage. By 7.10am, it still hadn't lifted, however with no one online on FaceBook to ridicule, I gingerly made my way to the car and carefully(!) drove to the res'.
Upon arrival, I had a mooch about the Sailing Club Marsh just incase the Jack Snipe was 'showing' - It wasn't. Mr/Mrs Water Rail had also left home early so I headed for the shoreline to look for the Black necked Grebe that had been relocated earlier in the week by Mikipedia. No sign of that either, although, as the following images depict, I wasn't exactly viewing in prime conditions...

Move along, nothing to see here.
One or two Chiffchaffs were singing and a couple of Blackcaps, so with hopes that perhaps maybe there might just be a grounded Wheatear or even Ring Ouzel knocking about, I headed for 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field'. Upon arrival at said field, it was obvious it was a waste of my precious time so I took a break and had a KitKat.

Knowing that he is a fiend for year ticks and to ease my boredom, I sent a text to Mikipedia informing him of the presence of at least three Blackcaps. He replied that he was on his way so I headed in the direction of the Sailing Club for our rendezvous. En Route I came across this ghostly grey gloved hand beckoning me into the marshes! Although it had been a shit morning, I refrained from being seduced into a watery dunk

After meeting up with Mike, we had another search of 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field' (to no avail) before making our way to the Viewing Platform. The sun had now decided to get its shit together and quickly burnt off the offending fog. The lifting of the cloud curtain revealed the jewel like pinnacle on the mucky waters of King's Mill Res' -

Abit of a 'vis-mig' session in 'The Weedy Field' prouced nothing more than a few Mipits so with the sun now BLAZING and NO Hirundines being seen, we departed to the cafe for a brew.

Mikipedia was far from impressed on the mornings offerings
The final tally of shit after 6hrs looked like this (I'm only giving you the interesting stuff) -
1 Black necked Grebe
8 Chiffchaffs
3 Blackcaps
9 Snipe
1 Willow Tit
1 Stoat
4+ decent female joggers with firm arses
1 cup of tea
and a KitKat...

The title of this post says it all.

18 March 2012

Return to the patch (again & again)

Ok, so it was Saturday morning (17th March) and for some reason I made the decision to head down to my old stomping ground, King's Mill Res', and do some proper birding instead of that silly twitching nonsense. Upon arrival at KMR, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of vehicles in the car park! That usually means no other birders have arrived before me but more importantly that there would be minimal numbers of dog walkers and bread throwers!
Due to the peaceful atmosphere my first area of coverage was the scruffy ditch adjacent to the car park where a Water Rail lives and luckily he (or she) was in! I attempted to 'pap' it but my Mobi-Scoping kit just wouldn't focus down close enough. I told him (or her) that I'd be back later to try again, said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways. I headed to 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field' (AKA The Lawson Mardon Paddock) and as I expected, there, on the short cropped turf and perching upon various stuff like posts, upturned baths and wheelbarrows, was NO Wheatears! Too early?
Prime Wheatear turf (minus Wheatear).
Prime Wheatear Posts (minus Wheatear).
Prime Wheatear wheelbarrow (minus Wheatear).
So not dejected in the slightest, I carried on with my ornithological hunting but with the volume being raised by joggers, dog walkers and bread chuckers, I headed towards the viewing platform in order to avoid being trampled. Nearing the platform, I had a quick scan over to the SE and noticed a small raptor circling to the left of Hamilton Hill. I then noticed a much larger bird being rattled by a corvid! The bigger bird was actually an even larger corvid - RAVEN! I locked my scope onto it and enjoyed a good 3 or 4 minutes of aerial acrobatics as the two birds seemingly playfully jostled until the Crow got bored and the Raven sauntered off south east.
I then met up with Rich Challands. We did the obligatory 'stand near the SW corner and look at Snipes & Teals' stuff and spoke eloquently about cats & their owners and then it was time for me to leave.
KMR is about 6.8 miles from my house and should take (according to google) 17 minutes by car. So it was only right for Rich to wait 'til I got home before he should text me with news of a Jack Snipe at the Sailing Club Marsh. Needless to say, I was back at KMR within 12 minutes but alas even with no traffic on the roads(!) I was too late. The Jack Snipe had been flushed. By a dog? A Jogger? Horse? Stray cat? Elephant? Nope! It had been flushed by a fucking FROG! Yep a FROG!
Luckily Rich had seen where it had ditched back down so there was no choice other than to slip on our wellingtons and get stuck into the marsh. It didn't take long for our ingenius plan of clapping, shouting, jumping and smashing cymbals together to work as the little snipe soon got fucked off with it and silently erupted from the boggy ground. It circled above our heads a few times, obviously wanting to ditch down again but due to our presence it bottled it and chose a smaller pond over the railway. Chuffed with that, we went to see if the Water Rail was still at home. It was.

Mr or Mrs Water Rail posed majestically before she had to nip to Asda
I left for home again but I'd only gone about two miles when I received a text from Wayne Collingham. I had to go back AGAIN! Spinning the motor round, I tanked it back, dumped the motor on the entrance track, met Rich and ran over the A617. Wayne was stood in the middle of 'Thee Olde Wheatear Field' looking at this -

Gorgeous Miss Wheatear trying to say ''I've been here all morning'' But I know she's lying!
On a serious note, in almost 18 years of watching KMR, the majority of my Wheatear sightings have been in this field and most have been discovered in the second, late morning, search. Is this because they continue migrating for a few hours after dawn before hitting the deck for the day? Does anyone know?
The excellent morning was topped off with KMRs first singing Chiffy of the spring. I then got in the motor, turned my phone off and went home. My late afternoon/evening was spent having a Cuba meeting with the Cuba Crew. We discussed little and drank lots. The latter being the cause of my failure to get out birding today.

I'll never learn.