Tuesday 28 February 2012

Wembury 28th February 2012

Today I headed out to Wembury on the bus despite feeling a little groggy after finishing my night shifts yesterday morning. It was overcast but very mild and the walk was full of bird song - song thrush, chaffinch, greenfinch, great and blue tit, rock pipit and dunnock along with a stonechat and 2 cirl buntings. A rook flew over carrying a beakful of twigs and catkins were opening on the trees. Various plants were flowering including celandines, periwinkles and three cornered leeks.


Celandine sp.

Three cornered Leek

I found a micro moth in the toilet block, I think it is a parsnip moth and I managed to get a crap photo of it in a pot as it was very feisty and would not stay still for a second.

Parsnip moth?

The highlight bird wise were 2 winter plumaged Slavonian grebes diving quite close to the shore at high tide, they were diving together before splitting up and moving further offshore where 3 summer plumaged great crested grebes were resting together. Also seen were a grey plover, curlew, oystercatcher, a pair of cirl buntings along with the 2 singing males, a little egret and a grey heron. 2 Canada geese were noisely flying around The Mewstone along with a pair of fulmars prospecting the cliffs. Amongst the rock pipits feeding on the seaweed mass on the beach was a bird that looked good for a Scandanavian race bird with its blue head and very pink flushed breast. I didn't find any turnstones along the beach today, they have been thin on the ground here this winter.

Mallard numbers have dropped to 6 males and 5 females along with the 2 feral type birds feeding together.
The 2 feral mallards feeding along Wembury beach

Interesting find of the day was what looked like an owl pellet on a fence post by the footpath along the old HMS Cambridge site. I wasn't sure if it was a pellet or a fox turd that somebody had placed on the fence as it had a tapered end but it didn't smell and I could see some bones in it so I potted it up and brought it home to dissect, finding a skull of some small rodent amongst all the fur and other small bones. I'm not sure what produced it, maybe a barn owl, and I think it is a field vole skull I found inside it.


Skull and jaw bone found in the pellet

Pellet skull

Pellet jaw bone


Friday 24 February 2012

South Devon Bus Trip - 23rd February 2012

I've had quite a bit of time off over the last few weeks due to loads of night shifts which I hadn't requested and a few days annual leave and now it is coming to an end as I am back on night shifts tonight and then back to normal day shifts. I've managed to do lots of birding in my time off and as it was cloudy, mild (15c) and misty but dry I decided to head out towards Slapton Ley on the bus to do some final birding.

I caught the bus to Aveton Gifford and had an hour to head off down the tidal road to look for the juvenile Bewicks swan that is overwintering there before catching the next bus to Slapton Ley. The tide was out and the Bewicks swan was typically right at the end of the tidal road and so it was a brisk, 10 minute walk to where it was roosting on the mudflats on the opposite side of the river with some mute swans. Its smaller size was obvious and it had a white body with a grey toned neck but its head was tucked under its wings. Eventually it woke up and headed into the water to feed but it stayed on the opposite side of the river while the mute swans all crossed over to where I was stood. It was quite vocal at times, calling while lifting its head up and down and the yellow on the bill has increased since I saw it back in December last year.

Bewicks swan (left) and mute swan (right)

Bewicks and Mute Swan

Juvenile Bewicks Swan

Also seen were 2 little egrets, 2 common sandpipers, a little grebe and 2 Egyptian geese with 6 very small, fluffy, black and white goslings, looking very out of place on a misty February day.

As I was walking back to the bus stop I disturbed a green sandpiper from the mudflats by the road bridge, it flew away silently before disappearing into the nearby marshy field. I was surprised it was silent as it flew off as I always remember them as being quite noisey when disturbed when I used to see them regularly in my youth back in Ipswich. It is only the second time I have seen green sandpiper here, having seen one bird flying off as I went past on the bus a few years ago.

Arriving at Torcross I met up with David as he had decided to join me and we walked over to Beesands Ley so I could have a look for some smew which have been reported from here for a few days now.I checked out the Ley and visited the bird hide for the first time but there was no sign of any smew. I did see the strange male tufted duck/red crested pochard hybrid which has been knocking about in the area for a few years now - it looks like a male tufted duck but has a very natty looking gingery red tufty crest like a male red crested pochard. Also seen were 2 male and a female teal, shoveler, pochard, gadwall, tufted duck, coot, moorhen and mallard while water rails were squealing in the reeds and lesser black backed gulls bathed on the Ley amongst the usual herring, black headed and great black backed gulls.

Offshore I found a great northern diver quite close in to the beach and busy munching away on crabs it brought to the surface. Later I found it further offshore with a second bird, and I watched one bird snorkeling while the second bird dived underwater. A distant diver was seen flying East offshore, it appeared quite pale looking and was probably a red throated diver.

We had lunch in The Cricket Arms at Beesands which was very good, it looks very much like it is a part of the group that includes The Ship Inn at Noss Mayo as it has a similar decor and menu.

Heading back to Torcross I had a quick final look at the Ley again and disturbed a redhead smew from the reeds right in front of me, it flew across the Ley and landed right out in the middle of the Ley where it was joined by a second bird, giving great views. There have been up to 5 smew reported but there were only 3 reported on Tuesday and now it looks like there are just 2 left. I used my binocular doubler but again it reminded me I need to get myself a scope. It did help in getting some good views but the light transmission is not very good especially in the mist and murk of the day, the views through the binoculars without the doubler were much sharper and brighter.

We walked over the beach back to Torcross, stopping off to look at the outlet where Slapton Ley drains out of a man made channel under the cliffs, across the beach and in to the sea, only the second time I have been to see it. We picked some daffodils flowering in the ruins of the Cove Hotel which smell and look great and then headed home, having had a very enjoyable day. And in the last 4 days I have seen all 3 sawbills - red breasted merganser on the River Exe on Monday, goosander at Loe Pool on Tuesday and smew today at Beesands, not bad going.

Feral ducks at Torcross

Wednesday 22 February 2012

A wild (?) duck hunt in deepest Cornwall - 21st February 2012

Today I decided to head down to Helston in Cornwall to have a look for the female bufflehead that has been seen at the nearby Loe Pool for the last couple of months. It was first seen in October at a time when a load of North American birds were seen in the UK following Autumn storms so presumably it is a wild bird.

It was a cloudy day but it soon brightened up and I arrived in Helston at around 10:30 after a 2 and a half hour train and bus trip (£24.80 return!). I headed off to the Boating Lake in Helston where amongst the ducks I found a nice male pochard and 2 pairs of shovelers, the pochard being very tame as it bummed bread scraps with tufted ducks, mallards, coots, moorhens and mute swans.

Tufted Ducks looking for bread scraps

A very tame male pochard

Tufted Duck

The shovelers were seen displaying towards each other and the tufted ducks were displaying and giving a strange little whistling noise to each other, a sign of the coming Spring.

Gulls were also bumming bread scraps amongst the ducks and roosting and bathing on the lake. Cormorants in summer plumage were also roosting on a small island in the lake.

Juvenile Herring Gull

Black headed Gull

I headed off towards Loe Pool to the small bird hide by the water side and there it was, the bufflehead diving away on the opposite side of the Pool. It was with a pair of goldeneye and its small size was very noticeable compared to them. The male goldeneye was seen displaying to the bufflehead when the female goldeneye was underwater - naughty! I had my binocular doubler with me and I managed some good views of the bird but it spent very little time at the water surface and would often move to an area of water out of view from the hide.

While sat watching the bufflehead from the hide another birdwatcher joined me and after a few minutes chatting together he called a bittern and I managed a brief one second view of the bird disappearing behind the reedbed to the left of the hide.

The bird "hide" at Loe Pool

The view from the bird "hide"

Also seen on the Pool were around 40 pochard roosting and feeding in a loose flock, a coot, a male and 2 female tufted duck and 3 very smart male goosanders with 5 redheads. Lesser black backed gulls were bathing amongst a flock of herring, black headed and great black backed gulls.

In the woodlands I had a good hunt for treecreepers with no luck but I did see a few goldcrests with long tailed- and coal tits, a male great spotted woodpecker, a sparrowhawk and 2 chiffchaffs, one with a silver ring on its right leg. Redwings were nervously flitting about in the trees and on the woodland floor and a raven honked noisely as it flew overhead.

A Cettis warbler was heard calling and a female teal was disturbed from a marshy area, doing its Harrier jump-jet impression with a near vertical take-off amongst the overhanging branches. Celandines were seen in flower in the marshy areas by the path.

Flowering Celandine sp.

Heading back towards Helston I stopped off in the bird hide again and the bufflehead was still busily diving away on the opposite side of the Pool. I was just about to head back to Helston to catch the bus back to Redruth train station and home when it flew over the water before landing in front of the hide. It gave great views quite close to the hide although it still spent very little time on the waters surface. I watched it for around 10 minutes before I had to leave to go and catch the bus, having enjoyed some really good views - hopefully it will be considered a wild bird and will be a British life tick for me.

A wild (?) goose chase - Part 2

Monday 20th February and David took me to Exminster Marshes for a walk to try and see the elusive red breasted goose. It had been reported the day before as showing in a flock of brent geese at Powderham Marsh with another flock of brent geese reported at Exminster Marsh so I had my fingers crossed that I would see it.

David went to have a look around the reclaimation yard by the Swans Nest pub while I headed off to Powderham Marsh. Walking down the lane at Exminster Marsh the brent geese were showing very well in the fields right by the side of the road but a quick scan didn't reveal the red breasted goose so I carried on towards Powderham Marsh.

Reaching Powderhan Marsh my heart began to beat a little faster as a flock of around 200 brent geese were busily feeding in the field right by the side of the path. I managed to get right opposite them as they honked and squabbled noisely as they fed. I did find a bird with green plastic rings on both legs and the bird with a speckled white head that I saw back in January but no sign of the red breasted goose.

I headed back towards Exminster Marsh, meeting David at the Turf Hotel on the way back, seeing avocets and red breasted mergansers on the river as a bird watching boat trip cruised past giving its usual commentary.

On reaching the viewing platform at Exminster Marsh the brent geese had moved to the back of the marsh by the railway line and so we headed back to the car park to get a better look but by the time we got there the geese had all flown downriver towards Powderham! I watched as a large swirling flock of geese flew around the Turf Hotel before they all headed off in the direction of Topsham, presumably with the red breasted goose amongst them - bugger!

A fox was seen wandering across the marsh heading towards where the brent geese were feeding and this may have been the reason why they all flew off towards Powderham. I am beginning to believe that I am just not meant to see this bird!

Anyway, I did find a barnacle goose feeding amongst the Canada geese on the marsh along with a male and 2 female pintail, around 50 golden plover, black tailed godwits and a female stonechat. Gadwall were busy nicking food off the coot on the small reservoir where a female pochard and some tufted duck were busy diving. A peregrine was seen perched on the electricity pylon and a water rail was seen briefly running across the footpath by the canal.

And so we headed back to Plymouth and I had as usual failed to see the red breasted goose - maybe I will have better luck next time?


River Tamar Boat Trip 19th February 2012

A bright and sunny but very cold morning with a sharp frost and it was that time of year for my annual bird watching boat trip along the River Tamar and Lynher, this year without Mavis.

I checked out the small patch of woodland by the Tamar Bridge as I had a bit of time to fill before the trip started. The wood is being tidied up as part of a conservation scheme and where the woodland floor has been cleared around 10 very nervous and flighty redwings were feeding with blackbirds before they all flew off into the tree tops and out of sight. Also heard were 2 male blackcaps sub-singing deep inside adjacent bushes but I didn't see them.

On boarding the boat we headed up the River Tamar, passing the white feral goose that hangs out with the mute swans at the quayside. As we headed past Kingsmill Creek the most unusual bird of the day was seen, a male common scoter busily diving along the shoreline and a surprise so far up river. It was still there on the return downriver where the knob on its bill and the yellow bill marking were very obvious. I have seen a female common scoter on the trip before, back in 1998, but it was an unexpected sight.

Also seen were around 100 avocets, the usual peregrine perched on the electricity pylons, a common sandpiper, a little grebe, a bar tailed godwit with some black tailed godwits, around 200 lapwings on the mudflats at Cargreen, a greenshank and the usual waders and wildfowl.

The boat managed to get upriver to Pentille House, the furthest upriver I have ever been on this trip. However I didn't see any spotted redshanks which I had hoped for. I missed out on seeing them last year as the boat was unable to sail upriver to where they are usually seen, but this year there were none to be seen in their usual place along the shoreline just North of Cargreen.

Heading up the River Lynher we soon found the spoonbill roosting on the saltmarsh near Trematon. It had its head tucked under its wing and its back to us but it eventually woke up. It looked over its shoulder at the boat where it showed its distinctive black spoon bill with its yellow tip before flying off up the creek and out of sight, never to be seen again.

Also seen were 2 greenshanks, around 4 little grebes, 2 male and 3 female red breasted mergansers, a female pintail flying over with some wigeon, around 30 avocets, a sparrowhawk, lesser black backed gulls amongst the gulls roosting on the mudflats and the usual waders and wildfowl.

Getting back to Saltash I was glad to get off the boat as I was freezing cold but it had been a very enjoyable trip.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A new moth at Wembury 14th February 2012

After finishing 4 night shifts on Monday morning I headed out to Wembury on Tuesday 14th with David for a walk in the sunshine and fresh air. The temperatures have risen back to around 10 degrees and it was a pleasent walk along the coast despite it being the half term school holidays. There were quite a few people out and about with their kids but the upshot of this was that the cafe was open and we had our first Chunk pasty of the year for our lunch - yummy!

Bird wise I found 2 dunlin amongst a flock of around 35 turnstone feeding on the rocks at the tideline as the tide went out, the count of 35 turnstone being the highest count I have had at Wembury this winter due to the generally mild weather. Also seen were 1 curlew, oystercatchers, 2 redshank and a smart bar-tailed godwit, the first I have seen at Wembury at this time of year, no doubt displaced by the recent freezing weather snap.

Other birds seen on the walk included a singing song thrush, a goldcrest, a pair of bullfinch, 2 little egrets, a male stonechat, a grey wagtail and 3 male and 7 female cirl buntings sitting in a hedge by the stubble covered wheatfield. The mallard numbers have dropped although they were difficult to count amongst the rocks at low tide but the white and the pale brown farmyard types were still amongst them.

Stopping off for a wee in the toilet block on the way back to the car I was surprised to see a moth. I had no pot with me and had left my camera at home but when I checked the guide books at home I identified it as a dotted border, a new moth for me.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

A wild (?) goose chase

A bright and cold day and with David doing a twilight shift I decided to head to the River Exe to try and see the red-breasted goose that has been spending the winter there. It has been reported with the brent geese on the fields at Turf for a while now and while I didn't see it on the boat trip on Saturday it was seen from the boat trip on the Sunday.

I caught the train (a nice First train) to Starcross and walked up to the viewing platform at Exminster Marsh and back and drew a blank, surprise, surprise. There were no geese in the fields around Turf but I did see brent geese on the nearby mudflats. On the walk back a large flock of around 400 brent geese landed on the mudflats at The Goatwalk, making a huge din and arriving from the direction of Darts Farm but after a while they all took off and returned back to the direction of Darts Farm, presumably the red-breasted goose was amongst them.

The mudflats at Turf

A red-breasted goose spent the winter on the Exe in 2009/10 and I saw it distantly and briefly in January 2010 but it was subsequently considered an escaped bird. Another or the same bird spent the winter of 2010/11 on the Exe with a second bird but I never saw either of them. And this year a first winter bird has appeared and so far I haven't seen it either. But is it a wild bird or is it an escape? Who knows.

I failed to find a treecreeper in the small wood near Powderham Park where I usually manage to see one but I did find a chiffchaff as a consolation and a smart male great spotted woodpecker. The fallow deer were showing well in Powderham Park where the grey herons were on their nests in the treetops.

Fallow deer in Powderham Park

At Exminster Marsh the usual ducks were seen including a few smart male pintail. A peregrine was perched on top of a pylon and caused havoc amongst the birds as it flew around on short sorties, putting up lapwings, starlings and around 100 golden plovers. 7 greylag geese were seen amongst the Canada geese and gadwall were following the coots around the small lake to try and steal some food from them. A Cettis warbler was heard singing and a female stonechat was seen on the fence posts by the path.

Unusual sight of the day were 3 foxes out in the open, 2 of them noisely fighting at times and looking like boxing mad March hares as they chased each other around the marsh. One of the foxes very kindly flushed a snipe for me as it ran across a boggy field.

One of the foxes on Exminster Marsh

I caught the train back to Dawlish Warren and spent some time sea-watching by the lifeguard hut. A distant red-throated diver was seen briefly between dives, showing a very black throated diver like pale flank patch. 3 Slavonian grebes were diving together close to shore before moving further out and the Bay was dotted with great crested grebes, some in summer plumage and some displaying to each other including those in winter plumage. Further out 5 female eiders were diving together before going to sleep and single gannets were diving offshore.

Best bird though was the long staying and returning female surf scoter which was in quite close to the sea wall, showing very well in the bright sunshine and probably the best view of it I have ever had. I used my Swarovski "doubler" on my binoculars, I am not a great fan of it and rarely use it but it was helpful today. However it has reminded me that I really must get my telescope sorted out as I would have had much clearer and easier and more comfortable views with a telescope. The diver, grebes and eiders would have been much easier to see as well.

And so I headed home on a nice First train again, having had a good day despite not seeing the red breasted goose and now more determined to get myself a telescope.

Monday 6 February 2012

River Exe and River Plym bird days

Saturday 4th February and it was that time of year, my annual birdwatching boat trip on the River Exe with Mavis and Mike. It was an early start, 05:00hrs (!), and it was a cold and grey day but we had a good days birding. It was 3 degrees on leaving Plymouth but on arriving at Exmouth it had dipped to minus 2 degrees so a warmimg breakfast in the cafe on the quayside helped to warm us up for the 09:30 start to the boat trip.

A razorbill was busy diving for fish by the boat as we cast off, giving good views. Heading out to sea some sanderlings were seen on the sand bars exposed by the low tide. In the estuary the usual birds were seen, highlights being the resident Slavonian grebe preening itself near the wreck but seen distantly and an adult winter plumage Mediterranean gull amongst some black headed gulls. Also seen were a male tufted duck and a male shoveler along with the usual waders and ducks. A large flock of Brent geese were very flighty around Turf but I failed to find the red breasted goose amongst them. The resident common seal was seen swimming past the boat before diving under the water and out of sight.

Snow flurries eventually gave way to drizzle and then light rain which started just as we arrived back at Exmouth at the end of the trip which was lucky. We headed on to Bowling Green Marsh to find it frozen over. The American wigeon usually seen around Dawlish Warren had been reported from here the day before but only a few shoveler, teal and wigeon were seen roosting on the ice. 2 lapwing, a dunlin, a curlew, 2 snipe and some fly over black tailed godwits were seen as we ate our packed lunches. A fox was seen wandering along the hedgerow at the back of the marsh.

The viewing platform overlooking the River Clyst had been renovated but was fully exposed to the wind and rain so after only a brief look we headed off into Topsham via The Goatwalk where good views of avocets were had along with 10 coot bobbing about on the river, no doubt displaced from the frozen marsh. Cold and wet, we decided to call it a day and headed back to Plymouth but it had been a very enjoyable day as usual.

Sunday 5th February and I headed off to Marsh Mills to have a look for the yellow browed warbler that has been reported from here for a while now, this being the first free day I have had to go and have a look for it. I was out of luck despite the the help of the eyes of some fellow bird watchers but I did see 3 siskin, a male great spotted woodpecker, a male bullfinch, a female blackcap, goldcrest and good views of a very obliging and very handsome firecrest. A green woodpecker was heard yaffling and a grey wagtail flew over calling. Amongst the leaf litter were quite a few distinctive looking fungus, I'm not sure what they are called.

Fungus Sp.

After a couple of hours wandering around the small wood I headed off to the River Plym where the spotted sandpiper showed very well in its usual place on the mudflat opposite the sewage farm outlet and a greenshank fed nearby. Also seen were 2 little grebes, 3 Canada geese, a little egret and a male kestrel.

Spotted Sandpiper


Snowdrops were flowering in abundance,  a sign of Spring despite the cold but sunny weather.



Some violets were in flower by the footpath near the bridge over the railway line, another sign of Spring and quite fragrant when I got close down to them.

Violet Sp.

Walking back to Sainsburys I found an interesting fungus growing on a tree trunk, again I'm not sure what it is called.

Fungus Sp.

Fungus Sp.

And so off I headed to the city centre to meet David for lunch as he was working a long day and then I headed home, having had a very pleasent if yellow browed warbler unsuccesful morning.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Ipswich 28th Jan - 2nd Feb 2012

After finishing 4 night shifts on the Friday we headed up to Ipswich on Saturday 28th to spend a few days with my family. The weather was turning cold, heralding a Siberian cold snap, but it was dry and sunny as we headed across the country. From the train between Plymouth and London the best sightings were greenshanks on the River Teign and the River Exe, 4 fulmars prospecting the cliffs near Teignmouth, a roe deer and at least 10 red kites.

Sunday 29th and Mum had to work so we had use of the car for the afternoon. We headed out to Needham Market and David dropped me off at Needham Market Lakes, a small nature reserve, while he went to look round the antiques shop. It was odd to see miniature power boats racing on the lake considering it is a nature reserve and a great crested grebe was seen skulking at the back of the lake keeping out of the way of the boats. A kingfisher in a classic pose on a branch overhanging a small stream was a good sighting and also seen were a little egret and common gulls amongst the black headed gulls.

The antiques shop had closed down so after an hour David picked me up and we headed off to Risby for some more antiquing.  While David looked around the antiques shops at Risby Barns I headed off for a walk in the surrounding fields, passing my late Great Grandmothers and my late Great Uncles bungalows on the way. I saw a hare running across the fields before it appeared to just disappear as it settled down into its run. Also seen were quite a few fieldfares flying over and a small flock of golden plover feeding in a ploughed field with some common and black headed gulls.

While driving around the Suffolk countryside it was surprising to see buzzards soaring overhead or feeding on worms in the ploughed fields. They are a common sight here in Devon but I never saw buzzards when I lived in Suffolk. However since moving to Devon in 1986 they have spread ever Eastward from their strongholds in the West, supposedly due to a lack of persecution from gamekeepers.

We headed back to Ipswich and visited the hospital to have a look around the grounds for some waxwings that have been reported there for a few weeks now but we were out of luck. However the next day (30th) we returned to the hospital on the way to Woodbridge, this time with Mum as well, and we found a flock of around 70 birds as soon as we arrived at the main entrance. They were sat in the tops of some trees trilling away quietly and looking like fluffy pink starlings and I managed to get a few photos despite the poor light.


More waxwings

Woodbridge was cold and grey but I walked along the river path for an hour while Mum and David went shopping and I managed some nice bird sightings. A lone avocet was a surprise and a male tufted duck was bumming bread scraps amongst the mallards being fed by passers by. 2 bar-tailed godwits were seen amongst the black-tailed godwits along with grey plover, dunlin and redshank. Little grebes were diving out on the river, at least 8 were seen.


Tufted Duck
Black- and Bar-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit

Tuesday 31st and David had to travel back to Plymouth due to work commitments but I went for a walk on Chantry Park, my old local patch and where I cut my birdwatching teeth in my teenage years. It brightened up as the afternoon wore on but it remained cold. I found a pile of feathers and a bill under a hawthorn bush which was all that remained of a goldfinch from a recent sparrowhawk kill.

Goldfinch feather

Stock doves were much in evidence feeding in the surrounding fields and flying overhead in small groups. Jays were very vocal and showy too. Numerous brown rats were seen and were quite oblivious to my presence as I walked along the paths around the small lake. A long tailed tit was seen carrying some lichen in its bill, a sign of Spring coming despite the cold weather.

The small lake at Chantry Park - my old local patch

Wednesday 1st Feb and Mum and I went for a walk at Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve with Mums friends Liz and John. It was bright and sunny but bitterly cold in the Easterly wind and large parts of the marsh were frozen over. A red-legged partridge was heard but I failed to see it. A woodcock was flushed from the side of the path, flying off over the trees and out of sight, maybe a recent arrival from the frozen continent. Pintail, wigeon, mallard and teal were resting on a small patch of unfrozen water with a male shoveler and a pair of gadwall. A lone black tailed godwit was feeding on the marsh and golden plovers were seen flying over nearby fields. Brent, greylag and Canada geese were also seen along with a single little grebe and single flyover snipe. On the way home we stopped off at Ipswich hospital to see the waxwings but were out of luck and they haven't been reported from here since we saw them on the Monday.

Thursday 2nd was sunny and bright again and I headed home on the train. Greenshanks were seen along the River Exe again but not the Teign. 5 red kites were seen between London and Westbury and a single roe deer was seen again.

 And so it had been a very pleasent but tiring trip with some good wildlife sightings.