Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Mothing Patching and Twitching

The Safari out the moth trap out after we'd got back to Base Camp from our trip up north. We were eager to have a look inside the following morning but saw that it had rained over night so decided that a very (aka reasonably) early visit to the nature reserve might produce something of note...and we still need that pesky Garden Warbler for our Patchwork Challenge. Unplugging the moth traps elecrics we left it to go birding. It turned out to be a good move. Within minutes of arriving at the reserve we had a Curlew (MMLNR #94) go over. There wasn't much small bird activity in the scrub other than a Blue Tit or two and a Blackcap tacking away so we went to the viewing platform and had a look over the water. Not a great lot happening it was a peaceful early morning scene, the Great Crested Grebe youngster is now nearly as big as its parent and the young Mute Swans had a practice flap showing their fully feathered wings. 
On the way down the track we had a Whitethroat flitting around in the thick Brambles and then had the idea of having a look from the Panoramic hide/screen where we had a total surprise. Two juvenile Black Terns (181, MMLNR #95) were hawking insects over the water across on the far side. We knew they'd been there while we were oop norff but hadn't expected to see them as they'd been reported as 'left'.
Not the best pic of Black Terns you'll ever see!
We watched them until they took off high to the east and were lost to sight. Moving through the scrub we had a Lesser Whitethroat, more Blackcaps but no Garden Warbler! The new 'Channel' scrape held a few Teal but they all fluched when a dog-walker quietly dressed in a fluorescent day-glo yellow work jacket came past...all but one bird went, the remaining one was a/the Garganey
It was quiet along the embankment a wagtail flew over us but it was 'only' a Pied and not a still not seen there Grey Wagtail. A bit of rain was in the air so we wandered along to the FBC hide to avoid getting wet. Again it was quiet, no sign of the Black Terns now were much closer to where they'd been - typical!!! But a large bird coming south over the barn caught our eye, Heron? Buzzard? A gull? No, an Osprey (MMLNR #96), it didn't even look at the water down to its right it just kept a straight purposeful line due south and was soon past us.
We retraced our steps along the embankment an heard a total of four Cetti's Warblers including one on the 'wrong side' of the dam. From the scrub a Chiffchaff sang and we saw a couple more Blackcaps, a Song Thrush was battering seven shades out of a snail was a species we've not seen there for a while, don't they go quiet and secretive during the summer...and still no sign of that pesky Garden Warbler!
We got back to Base Camp and made breakfast for Wifey but before we could open the moth trap she asked if we were going out somewhere with BD...well if you allow us like that we'll take advantage!!! Half an hour later we picked up BD and headed over the river on a twitch with two targets, one easy the other not so.
Our first twitching target was spotted from the driver's seat as we drove up the track. There on the wires across the field was the juvenile Cuckoo that's been hanging around for a couple or three days...in exactly the same spot as one a couple of years ago. Overflying, coasting, juvenile Cuckoos must come across this field and it cries out to them as being very likely full of food, or they spot the caterpillars as the fly over.
Which ever way it is this one had no problem seeing caterpillars in the grass and was swooping down to collect them every few minutes, big chunky ones with spikey bits; we've no idea what species of caterpillars but we do know that if we got on our hands and knees and thoroughly searched the field we'd probably not find a single one.
Time to look the other way, out to sea which was rapidly approaching on what was a very high tide. There were a lot of gulls present, mostly Black Headed Gulls but not so many of the larger species, one of which was what/who we were after. A good scrutiny of all those present gave us a large number of Great Black Back Gulls and a few each of Herring and Lesser Black Backs, our quarry didn't seem to be present. We scanned again and again as the tide rose but to no avail; we did see a trickle of Wheatears going through on the rocks below our feet, the marsh held four Little Egrets and a host of Redshanks and Lapwings. As the tide rose ever higher large flocks of Oystercatchers came by, flushed off their favourite sandbanks further out in the river-mouth.More gull-looking had us finding a couple of Mediterranean Gulls, a second year bird with a little black in the wingtip and an adult. We were able to get other birders onto these. As the tide rose most of the larger gulls flew off round the corner out of sight but one held back a few minutes and could have been the Caspian Gull we'd come for, photo-evidence from BD's long lens will be required to prove us right or wrong, most of the time it had it's back to us facing the wind.
A flock of about 30 Linnets swirled around and Sandwich Terns flew deep into the bay to roost, we heard the 'shreeepp' of Dunlins and watched the Golden Plovers jockey for position on the last parcels of dry(ish) land.
A lone Linnet landed on the rocks not too far away, hang on a mo, that's got a yellow bill...then it flew revealing a different wing pattern to the Linnets and when it flew past it made the typical squeaky call Twite make. Great stuff and BD had only just asked if there were any about and we'd said it's too early.
It was good for butterflies too including a now very scarce round these parts a rather worse for wear Wall.
The Sea Asters by our feet had a Peacock and a Painted Lady nectaring on them and BD showed us a couple of very fresh basking Small Tortoishells, he'd also seen a Small Copper and Common Blues along with a Large White, other White sps and numerous Grasshoppers.
With gathering omminous looking black clouds gathering we looked at  the time and discovered we'd long overstayed our allowance, time to head back to Base Camp and have a look in the mothy.
Another Willow Beauty was nice, as were two (Svensson's?) Copper Underwings.
A couple of micros had us scratching our head, both of which we ought to have known.
Phycitodes sp
Worn White Shouldered House Moth
This morning we had an extra day off to go to the docs later but that gave us another chance to get to nature reserve for a couple of hours or more.
Again it was pretty quiet, no sign of the Black Terns over the water from the viewing platform and not much moving or calling in the scrub, a Water Rail did scream from the reedbed though. We took our time and watched and listened as we walked down to the Panoramic Hide we spotted a movement in the pile of dead brash. We looked hard at the flits until a Lesser Whitethroat came in to view and then another, the bird still obscured was obviously darker browner. Then it came out and briefly showed itself very well, the elusive Garden Warbler (MMLNR #97) was no longer elusive...at last! In the scrape there were three Snipe fresh in. We met up with TS and had a chat as our second Curlew of the year here flew over at great height.
We went our separate ways and then both of us independently saw the Black Tailed Godwit (MMLNR #98) flying over. Not much more was noted other than three Cetti's Warblers. We didn't go round to the FBC Hide as we'd done yesterday as the Tuesday Group were leathering in to the reeds with an assortment of heavy duty cutting tools.
By the bridge we spotted a bright orange fly which we know to be a Turnip Sawfly.

There was nowt else of note on the way back to the Land Rover other than a singing Chiffchaff and a coupe for Migrant Hawkers, neither of which would settle for a pic. It was quite warm but with an increasing and increasingly cool wind there weren't as many dragonflies around today.
Where to next? Back to work, wonder what Patch 2 will give us.
In the meantime let us know who's spotting the invisible caterpillars in your outback

Monday, 31 August 2015

A brilliant day on safari with our friends from Yorkshire

The Safari met up with our AFON mentoree, AH, and her family for a day's wildlifing. We were supposed to go over to her local reserve on the far side of the Yorkshire Dales and watch her ringing and find out how she's been getting on, as well as getting the grand tour of the reserve but the stars aligned against us and a half way meet was arranged at the big reserve to our north instead.
We had a superb day in the warm sunshine with an amazing plethora of wildlife seen.
here's a selection of what we saw in no particular order. We almost bit a pic of a Kingfisher, much nearer than last week in the Midlands, but youthful excitement and over-exuberance meant it wasn't to be.
Black Tailed Godwits - a small section of the flock
Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar found by the young lad on whose arm it is crawling
Great White Egret (180)
Greenshank, the first three we saw - more were to be seen later
Told you
Heron hiding in the reeds
Heron in the marsh
Marsh Harrier - the only one of this year's youngsters left on site
Red Deer fawn
Red Deer hind and fawn
Young Red Deer stag
Spotted Redshank
Juvenile Robin - cute as can be
A welcome return to our 'tick' list was a Stoat, it's been far too long since we've seen one of those sinuous little beasties bouncing around as if powered by an over-tightened elastic band. Not so the other mustelid at his site, the Otter, we could hardly look anywhere without seeing one at the farthest two hides. No pics though, sadly too far away.
We've not told you too much about the day's adventures as we're going to leave that to Alicia and we're also fairly sure her pics will be a tads better than ours and might (better had!) include a lovely portrait of a Kingfisher.
Here's a bit of video of the Red Deer, all very Serengeti-like

Where to next? We've been out n about on safari over the holiday weekend and Alicia will be sending us the second installment of here Scottish trip shortly - that'll certainly one to watch out for!
In the meantime let us know who's 
In the meantime let us know who's bouncing around with too much youthful exuberance in your outback.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Underwing hell

The Safari was able to put the big light out on the moth trap but only due to sad circumstances, the lovely elderly lady next door passed away peacefully the night before last. Our neighbours on the other side are away on holiday both events allowing the use of the big light. An excited night followed but with hindsight we needed have been so eager to get down stairs and have a look at first light. At least we spotted the Common Wasp on the top egg box and that made us turn the others slowly and warily, there were two others lurking within. For the moths underwings out-numbered all-comers 24, of the three common species but mostly Lesser Yellow Underwing, to eight, three of which were micros, the very common Light Brown Apple Moth (2) and Codling Moth (1)
All of which somehow reminded  us that we've had a couple of Patch 2 ticks this week we've forgotten to tell you about, namely three Teal (P2 #61) and Common Sandpiper (P2 #62) along with some good skua action which included a possible Pomarine Skua yesterday seen circling very high northwards, only trouble is we had a it down as a Bonxie and the group of far more experienced seawatchers and better telescoped birds a little way to our south thought it was Pom - final verdict? Skua sp, dohhh! Far more easily IDd was the really close Arctic Skua giving a Sandwich Tern a mild bit of grief, one of the best views of an Arctic Skua we've ever had; too close for the scope really, bins woulda been better.
Wifey had to work this morning but we had a day off as we're another year closer to our telegram today so went down to the northern estuary for a shuffy at the waders. We got there a little late as the tide was well up but it couldn't be helped. The normal wader roosts were already almost underwater and most of the waders had been washed off. The nearest patch of mud held a couple of dozen Lapwings and a small bird hidden among them, was this what we had come for? No, the Lapwings were forced to walk up the bank a little by an incoming wavelet and our mystery bird turned into a Little Ringed Plover, a nice find, never seen one of those here before. A wander past the yacht club had us find all the smaller waders - about a flippin mile away on the far bank!!! Time to give up and go elsewhere, we'll try again another day over the holiday. although the tide will be even higher then and will probably flood over the road.
Our elsewhere turned out to be the nature reserve. We walked in from the north very briefly seeing the first Goldcrest of the autumn at the site work its way down the ancient hedge along the original bank of the pre-1741 mere.
The warm sun was tempered by a rather strong south westerly wind, we'd been sheltered from it on the estuary but in the lee of the denser patches of scrub Common Darters chased each other around their shadows on the path being easier to see than the insects themselves. Occasionally they'd land on the path and present a photo opportunity but they spotted our movement miles off and were gone in a flash. There were Brown Hawkers in abundance too along with a few Migrant Hawkers, one of which almost settled long enough for a pic. 
Concentrating on the eastern end we scoured the scrub for the elusive Garden Warbler without success, there were plenty of Woodpigeons in there and a lone Blue Tit.
Can't string this into a Garden Warbler
The scrape looked promising but there wasn't so much as a feather on it from which ever angle we viewed it from. Don't let the blue sky in the pic above fool you, we got a drenching from a heavy shower which we just knew must have dropped something so we went round to the embankment to look over the mere for a Black Tern or something similarly exotic - nowt, there was zilch there out of the ordinary.
Studying the water we counted 13 Shovelers, a couple of Teal well tucked away in the edge of the reeds and right at the far end a pair of Gadwall were found. From the reeds to our left a Cetti's Warbler fired up and we heard another round by the 'Panoramic' Hide a little later. A couple of Reed Warblers scooted across the reed tops but other than the 'regular stuff there wasn't much else, then Wifey phoned for her lift home - her car was in for a service. On the way back to the Land Rover we had enough time for another look at the scrub where we found our first Shaggy Ink Caps of the year and not more than a yard away a big clump of another Coprinus sp fungus.

Back at Base camp we turned on the puter to input our moth sightings on to our spreadsheet and our bird sightings on to Birdtrack, then we had a peek at the FBC website to see if there was owt about - beejeeezuzzz wouldya look at that - how'd we miss those Little Ringed Plovers? Must have flown almost right over our head - and we didn't even see TS!!! We just knew that shower would drop something! Does that count as a dip?

We put our sighting on later but before riting this blog - obviously...
It all goes to prove you can't see everything all the time, but it was a tad miffing!
Wifey's  car was ready at 5 o'clock and as the sun was still out we decided to walk down to the garage to collect it rather than both of us go in the Land Rover, much more sustainable...and we saw our first Painted Lady flying low along the roadside grass verge - wouldn't have spotted that from the driving seat! So not such a miffing day after all.
Seeing  as it's our buffdy here's a sort of relevant song, guitar played by a local lad from not far up the road near the in-laws

Where to next? Might try an early start on the nature reserve in the morning providing there's not too much quaffing of quality ales this evening.
In the meantime let us know what's missed is mystery in your outback.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Did we tell you we've been on a twitch?

The Safari seems to have been neglectful of our duties and not informed you we went up north a-ways with BD at the weekend to see if we could see an American visitor to our coast.
We drove up in sunshine and arrived at the site only to be told our quarry was no longer in the roadside creek only a few yards away but had flown onto the estuary where there was a huge expanse of mudflats for it to enjoy and huge numbers of Redshank in which to secrete itself. Off to the estuary we went and found a small crowd of telescoped birders stood on the seawall. The only trouble was we could tell they hadn't found the bird as they were all looking in different directions. We'd have to wait til the tide rose and limited the amount of mud available and probably forcing it back to the creeks. 
Cloud rolled in from the south and a cool wind picked up. Out on the river something flushed about 500 or more Lapwings off the flats but the distant Redshank flock stayed put on the deck. We saw four Little Egrets, no sign of the Spoonbill that had been here for the best part of a week though - it would be reported again the following day, would have been a nice bonus bird for our Year List Challenge with Monika, we've not seen one for a few years now dipping out on one a couple of years back.
People drifted away, some giving up and others going to have a look back in the creeks, we chose the later as the sky become more and more threatening and a brief but ferocious squall whipped up out of nowhere. 

We got to the little roadside car park and had a look in the creeks from a variety of angles to no avail, just a few Mallards, a Redshank and a Curlew where there. At the furthest point of our short walk there was a rumble of thunder and the heavens opened - we'd set off in sunshine and hadn't brought a coat! A very fast dash to the Land Rover was made without getting too wet. Once the rain eased something made us look over the hedge onto the pool on the opposite side of the road to the creeks and there on the point of the furthest island was a very pale undersided bird with a handful of Redshanks. It was too dark to see it properly but it looked mightily suspicious.
Scanning further round there was a Greenshank and a Little Grebe of note. Something flushed some of the Redshanks but all wings showed thick white trailing edges - no joy, then a lone bird flew over the road and a shout went up 'white rump - long trailing legs' - Lesser Yelllowlegs (179) in the bag!
Once again we walked down the road to see where it had landed on the far side of the marsh. Once again the rain came down this time we weren't so lucky and got a bit soggy running back to the Land Rover.
We drove round to the other side and eventually got terrible views in torrential rain in almost night-time dark light, it wasn't even tea-time! BD fired off a few record shots and then it was tick n run; or at least tick n drive as the rain fell even heavier. Thanks v muchly to the folk who generously allowed us a look through their scope standing aside in the deluge while we had a quick peek.
Where to next? Bank holiday weekend and we've a couple of safaris lined up for you and we should be able to get the mothy out tonight - with the 'big' light for a change.
In the meantime let us know who's been braving the deluges in your outback.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

We have been out on safari - honest

The Safari has been out n about but not had many photo opportunities this week. We'll start off with a bit of a moth we found early the other morning settled high up on a window at work. It took a good tip-toe  stretch to get the phone anywhere near it.
Word on the virtual street is that it's Agriphila straminella, a common enough species but we'll have to check the records to see if it's been recorded at work in the past.
Patch 2 has been a bit hit abd miss, when it's been quiet it's been very quiet but when it's been good there's been some superb skua action. Yesterday we watched two Arctic Skuas giving a poor Sandwich Tern a right royal mugging. This morning only one was seen but there have been up to half a dozen out there relieving the 300 or more Sandwich Terns of their hard earned fish.
There was a huge shoal of dish this morning which had attracted a good number of gulls, terns and Gannets but none were diving, the fish must have been visible but just too deep so as to be out of reach, there can't have been any marine predators like our blubbery friends the Bottlenose Dolphins or other larger fish to drive them to the surface.Talking of the dolphins a short piece of video appeared on the social media from the weekend of a pod of about 30 Bottlenose Dolphins just out of range from us in the mouth of the River Mersey off Liverpool filmed from a small boat
Other birds of note this morning were a juvenile Kittiwake and three Manx Shearwaters, the fist of those we've seen for a fair while now. Today was too choppy but yesterday's much calmer conditions gave us a Grey Seal in the middle distance.
We had our last children's group of the holiday yesterday afternoon and this time we were at a site we rarely get to explore on the beach in the town centre. We took the kids with their pots and nets to the pools round the pier legs and there they caught hundreds if not thousands of Brown Shrimps. However, there was little else, certainly no large Common Prawns but they did find some tiny juveniles barely bigger than plankton! A few Green Shore Crabs were netted mostly very small ones, the biggest being about an inch and a half across the carapace. A lone piece of seaweed was where they found a Sand Goby and couple of very tiny juvenile Blennies.
After they'd exhausted the possibilities around the pier legs we had a look in a runnel. My word the water was warm, felt almost tropical as we picked out a variety of shells from the shallow pool. The standline beyond the pool gave us a Curved Razor Shell and several broken carapaces of Masked Crabs
There hasn't been much wind recently, which thankfully is what you'd expect in the summer, so there weren't too many shells washed up. The oddest find of the year must have been the black pudding lurking on the sands...how'd that get there?
If only we'd taken a tub of mustard with us!
You just never know what you're going to find.
Where to next? Last day at work before the holiday tomorrow and we might be able to get a little adventure in.
In the meantime let us know who's doing the mugging in your outback.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Odd ball plant at the nature reserve

The Safari had a meeting to attend which was close to the nature reserve and once we were done we were able to have a sunny hour our so over there.
We had a couple of targets for our Patchwork Challenge to find. A quick look from the hide down from the new Visitor Centre, which is looking good with it's new artwork, gave us very little other than the two Garganeys over in the scrape.
We had a look down the dyke and across the fields but there wasn't anything to see. Once near the scrub the dragonflies started to make their presence felt. We had Common Darters basking on the stone path, several Migrant and Brown Hawkers
At the 'new' rear scrape there was a Green Sandpiper (MMLNR #93) asleep in the farthest corner...it always seems to be the farthest corner for us pic-wise at the mo.

We had a chat to GN who was gathering dead hedge material for tomorrow's volunteer group. He'd had a bit of fun disturbing a Wasp nest. While chatting a Cetti's Warbler called from the reeds beyond the bush behind him, the first he'd heard for a while.
He also showed us some plants that had come up put of the seed bank after last winter's construction work. Several lovely blue Cornflowers had come up, how long has that seed lain dormant in the soil? There was also a pretty pink flower we didn't recognise at all. Any ideas anyone?
Rather straggly, about a foot tall at most, with only a few lanceolate leaves.
From there we had a slow walk through the scrub listening out for a chance of Garden Warbler but the scrub was just about silent, nothing was calling or moving in there other than a couple of Woodpigeons, not really surprising given the temperature and time of day, we'd have more luck in the morning.
Out of the scrub on the old track the butterflies were impressive, a Peacock, several small Whites some may well have been Green Veined Whites but wouldn't settle and a fair number of Common Blues. Gard to count as they kept doubling back behind us and then the same or others overtaking us as we walked. Best were a couple of Small Coppers.
Nothing else of any new note was on found on the way back. But annoyingly once near the Land Rover and under the trees all the gulls went up in a noisy panic, a few minutes earlier we'd have stood a chance of seeing what all the fuss was about.
Where to next? A look at Patch 2 and our final kid's group on the beach of the holiday tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's hiding in the farthest corner in your outback.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Moths, bats and an old lady

The Safari was up and out at the nature reserve a few minutes after first light. We had hoped for a fall of some migrants but the overnight weather was back-to-front for that; it rained in the early part of the night and cleared up to leave a fine morning which meant a clear-out of birds was more likely than a drop-in. Not to worry it was still good to be on site before the dog-walkers (aka bird flushers). There wasn''t all that much for them to flush. A Whitethroat or two crept about low down,  Blackcaps 'teck'ed in the not yet ripe Elderberry bushes and unseen Willow Warblers/Chiffchaffs 'hweet'ed from the cover of the dense Hawthorns
A flit in a bush caught our eye and we stood and watched a party of Long Tailed Tits go about their business gleaning tiny invertebrates from the leaves and twigs as they moved single file through the scrub. There were a couple of Blue Tits with them but when they crossed the path we were able to get a count of nine, four Blue Tits and no less than FIVE Chiffchaffs in the flock!
Coming out of the scrub we rounded the bend overlooking the new scrape with caution, it was here we hoped we might find a decent 'drop-in' in the form of a wader, perhaps a Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank or something rarer like a Wood Sandpiper or even a Spotted Crake (if only!!!). From our view point we could only see about half of the scrape but there were two ducks in the middle visible just above the tops of the Reeds. Good job it had been raining heavily most of the night and these were weighed down with raindrops otherwise we'd not have see the ducks. They had seen us too so we ever so carefully raised our bins to see they were two Garganeys. Slowly we lifted the camera to our eye and fired of a couple of shots at the one showing most in the open. The second bird started to swim towards it and we were just about to get some pics of them together when the first dog walker came striding up from the opposite direction where a gap in the reeds meant the ducks could see him and off they went like a flash. Why don't these fools (polite version - it's Sunday morning) stop and wait when they see someone with a camera to their face, it's not like it's not obvious what's happening!
Still a bit dark and distant
Rain weighted Common Reed
We walked round to the FBC hide and had  a few minutes in there seeing the Garganeys again on the mere before they flew back to the channel scrape. Not long after that we saw two ducks fly off east into the glare of the rising sun which could have been them. A Reed Warbler flitted through the reed tops and a Water Rail called from the depths but other than those and the incessant mithering squeals of the juvemile Great Crested Grebe it was quiet. We gave it a few more minutes and were rewarded with a Common Sandpiper dropping in and flying up and down the mere calling before landing on the scrape. Almost what we'd been hoping for but the 'wrong type' of sandpiper.
Now it was decisions decisions time - do we continue on the full circuit or go back the way we came? Back the way we came won so off along the embankment we went seeing a Sedge Warbler on the landward side then hearing a Cetti's Warbler halfheartedly singing from the reeds on the lakeward side. The scrape was empty apart from a couple of Coots and a young Moorhen. Stopping in the scrub to see if any of the hidden 'tecks' were going to be a Lesser Whitethroat or a Garden Warbler the only two birds we could get the bins on to were Blackcaps. Behind us a Blackbird rattled its alarm call and we saw the tail end of a Sparrowhawk disappear at speed between the bushes.
In the more open scrub we watched a couple of Whitethroats but it was still pretty quiet and we were running out of time. Along the path bordering the reserve extention (actually both sides of the path here are in the reserve but one side is fenced) there is a large thicket of  Wild Raspberry, one of the luscious fruits was within reach - a real taste sensation! In the main (original) part of the reserve there is a small patch of Soapwort which we didn't notice but at the end of the 'extension' fence and just outside the reserve by an inch or two you couldn't fail to spot a much larger patch of those delicate pink flowers.
While doing some weeding in the garden back at Base Camp a Common Darter was over flying pond for several minutes trying to find a way to the water being thwarted by the anti-heron net. It gave up in the end a and flew off. Increasing cloud later in the afternoon brought about a dozen Swallows swooping low overhead, but as ever there wasn't a House Martin with them, still not had one at Base camp this year; no doubt there's be more if the tidy brigade didn't (illegally) knock the nests off their eaves.
Around tea-time we saw that our Extreme Photographer had sent us an email with some pics of a vole fin his garden, he wanted confirmation that it was a Bank Vole.
With such a lovely reddish fur it is indeed a Bank Vole and although we hate the word we have to say it is exceedingly cute.
In the evening we'd been booked to do our annual moth and bat watching session at a nearby park. The weather forecast didn't look hopeful but it was still quite sunny when we left Base Camp on the three mile drive. However we got to about half way there and it was like driving into the gates of doom - the sky went as black as the Obs of Hell (whatever they are but they're well known round theses parts) and a few raindrops on the windscreen soon developed into a full blown Noah-esque deluge.
We arrived to a distant rumble of thunder but the ran soon eased as we waited for the public to show up. Sure enough a small crowd of waterproofs-clad families began to arrive but the sky darkened again and more lightning showed from the south, where the weather was coming from. With everything sopping wet putting out the moth trap and its electrics wasn't going to happen but a bit of bat detecting was on the cards if the rain held off as the darkness grew. 8.30 was the start time and we had the bat detector switched on and ready to go, we'd even had a distant contact while we waited. As our leader began his welcome introduction lightning flashed all around us 1-and 2-and 3-an...wow that's just about overhead! And then Noah joined us with a bucket of tar, a couple of planks of wood and a big bag of nails and that was the end of mothing and batting.
Or was it???
Back at Base camp we got a call from our Extreme Photographer and took it in the kitchen so as not to disturb Wifey watching the telly. We moved a tea-towel and an Old Lady appeared and made bee (or moth)-line for the pot of tea-bags!
Outside the deluge continued so it was probably just as well the event was abandoned - hope we have better luck next year.

Where to next? There's a bit of a south easterly blowing today and heavy rain is forecast later, we might try to get out when (or just after) it lands to see if anything is dropped by the storm.
In the meantime let us know who's trying to nick off with the beverages in your outback.