Source Wading through Wigeon

Catcher in the rye

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After searching for and expecting Black Terns at Marshside all week, I noticed that 5 had been seen this afternoon at Nels so I drove over for a look. There were still 3 there distantly from Marshside Road when I got across so I parked up at the Sandplant for a walk and a closer view.

A quick look from Junction Screen at the wader flocks and a nice Spotted Fly popped up in the trees to the side – looping out from time to time to snatch its afternoon tea. Smart birds and always brighten up a days birding.


A walk down to Nels gave better views of the Terns, but too far for my camera. Ken Morrison then sent a message saying the other 2 were by Sandgrounders so I nipped there hoping they were in range. Always on the move, twisting and turning they were not easy, but I got a couple of images that you can at least see what they are!



A Drinker Moth caterpillar on the way back to the car was nice to see – probably 5-6cm’s and a lovely golden patterning. Thanks Graham J for the confirmation on the ID.



Source Wading through Wigeon

Double DiStint

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An early morning visit to the golf course was a non event again – tough year for me on there. A Hare was sunning itself by Fairclough’s but I could see that most of the birds were at the far end of Rimmers.


A scan from the Junction Screen showed that yesterday’s new influx of waders were still feeding in the muddy grass fringes of the pool. 3 Curlew Sands (all in breeding plumage) fed in a squadron, plenty of Dunlin and Ringed Plover plus best of all I found a breeding plumage Little Stint. They’ve been rarer than Temminck’s this Spring, in fact this is the only one I know about in the area so it was great to see – a bit like a mini Sanderling in this plumage.



A quick wander up to the Halfway Screen and I picked up a Greenshank calling overhead which then settled in with the Godwit. Never an easy bird at Marshside.


Thought I’d try the Sand Plant Road for high tide, but as it was a relatively low one, I had to walk out on to the sands to get close to the water. 4 new birds for the patch in 5 minutes in the guise of Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Sandwich Tern and Sanderling – that’s 151 species for the year.


After the sea scanning, I grilled the Dunlin to look for different races. Quite a lot of variation with some short billed pale birds a nice foxy red one. You can never be sure, but I think 3 ssp. in total out there today.





Up to Hesketh and the only birds of note was a colour ringed Avocet that I’ve seen in previous years and a ringed Arctic Tern – sadly too distant to read the ring, but hopefully someone will before the end of the year as it would be interesting to know where that’s from.



I took Sadie to Martin Mere in the afternoon, and in between the chaos of the play park and the lego creature trail, we had a brief look at the Mere and the Temminck’s was showing quite well on a distant spit (thanks to WWT for the hide mounted scope), as were a number of LRP. Didn’t have time for the Black Tern, but nice to get both Stints on the same day.

Source Wading through Wigeon

Tern it in

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An early start again to see  yesterday’s reported Wood Sand near Stanley High School at Marshside. It didn’t disappoint and was feeding away close to the public footpath on the pools. It had disappeared by the time I’d done the golf course and returned, but maybe it was just hiding in some of the rushy edges – cracking bird in the early morning light.


I left Marshside as the loud speaker system cranked up for the Triathlon, and decided to head for Hesketh Out Marsh. The 5 pairs of Arctic Tern were putting on a good show, as were 2 day flying Barn Owl at the far west end.


There had been a mini influx of Eider with 5 on the reserve (2m, 3f), also singing Corn Bunting and a couple of fly past Yellow Wags


The Terns made me think about the Docks, so I headed over to have a look how the Common Tern colony was shaping up this year. As always, it was a great spectacle and nice to see 5 Arctic in with them too – 2 pairs look to be nesting. It’s one of the best places to compare these 2 and it gets even more interesting later in the year when the 1st summer birds start to drop in.



Finally a GBB looked like it had been up to no good as it loitered at the end of the pontoon – look at that bill!


Source Wading through Wigeon

Ding dong the Spring is gone

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Around 8 hours of birding at Marshside and the surrounding area over the last 2 days, and the going has been tough. The waders have all but disappeared and there doesn’t seem to be much on the move, but a couple of highlights none the less.

First was a site first for me in the form of a Red Kite moving through early Friday morning – it caused havoc with the Godwits on Rimmers and then bedlam in the Gull colony on Suttons – great birds.


The 2nd was 2 Spotted Flycatchers on the Golf Course found by Pete Allen this morning – they were mobile and difficult to get close to, but provided some entertainment with their aerial acrobatics.

The Cattle Egret was still around, Crossens Inner yesterday, Suttons today. A few Corn Buntings at Banks and plenty of Reed Warbler singing around the marsh.

Try again tomorrow…..

Source Wading through Wigeon

As you were

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The weekend’s been a bit of an anti climax after Friday, despite some promising weather over Friday night. Although it’s hard to be disappointed when birds over Saturday and Sunday have included the Temminck’s again on Saturday (although more distant – 1st pic from Friday), Garganey, 2 Glossy Ibis, 4 Curlew Sand, 2 Eider, 10 Arctic Tern, my first Whinchat of the year (finally), 2 LRP, 4 Yellow Wags, 8 Wheatear, GWE and a few stunning Ruff’s still knocking about (pic courtesy of my dad).

It was nice to see my first Avocet chicks of the year today – 3 on Rimmers. You can just about make them out in this pic!


Source Wading through Wigeon

Morning Stint

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An early morning visit to Marshside paid off today when I found a Temminck’s Stint feeding along the mud edge on Rimmers Marsh. Originally picked up distantly from Hesketh Road Platform doing its mini Common Sand impression, I walked up to the bench at the junction with Marine Drive for a better view.

After 10 minutes of desperate searching (my record images thus far were not ID’able), It picked its way into view again feeding on the grass and mud edge. Not the most striking wader in the world, but they have a subtle beauty, and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 20 minutes with the bird before I had to leave for work.

There was also still 6+ Curlew Sand in the Dunlin by Marshside Road. Earlier in the week they had crept in to double figures with 11 on Tuesday morning, with a few Ring Plover mixed in and a single LRP.

The male Garganey also put in appearance on Tuesday morning.

IMG_6039 (Copy)

The marsh is on fire at the minute, what’s next…..

Source Wading through Wigeon

Cattle Market

I knew Marshside would be busy today – good birds and good weather always bring a crowd. I got out early to avoid the heat haze and the herds. The golf course was quiet, but a female Sparrowhawk perched up nicely in a tree for me.


The wader flock on Rimmers had grown in size and now 6 Curlew Sands probed the mud with around 200 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover and c50 Ruff. Couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of the Lapwings – imagine if that was rare! I found a Cattle Egret punking it up near to Avocet Island and this was the 1st one on the reserve for a while – hopefully now the cattle are back, they’ll return in bigger numbers and breed on the marine lake.


The 2 Glossy Ibis dropped in, but then seemed to go missing later on in the morning.


On to Crossens for the geese, and a smashing Tundra Bean showed really well in about 1000 Pinks – even managed a quick video Tundra Bean


A male Eider looked out of place on the grass, as they always do, a Common Sand was bobbing round the pools (honest) and a Peregrine was distantly perched up.


A message from Kim and Sean that they’d found a drake Garganey on Rimmers provided a welcome detour as that was a nice year tick, despite the distance!

IMG_5935Another quick look at the geese with my mum and dad rounded of the day. The Tundra was still there, but had moved to the back of the flock. Always a great bird to see – never tire of them.

And that was that, now to enjoy the garden, where’s that Hobby…..


Source Wading through Wigeon

When the Arctic meets the Med

You have to love Spring migration – a real medley of winter and summer species with a good sprinkling of common migrants and a dash of the exotic. Marshside has been on superb form this week, helped by some serious hours put in by the cream of the local regulars. No new finds today, but a couple of sessions before and after work resulted in some amazing close up views of some of the recent highlights.

4 Curlew Sands were performing well on Rimmers. They’re one of my favourite birds so I just sat and watched them for an hour first thing. One of the birds nearly in full breeding plumage looked stunning in the morning light.



Some video of them feeding here Curlew Sand 1 and Curlew Sand 2

As I was watching them, one of yesterday’s Glossy Ibis drifted over me and then settled down only 20 meters away – fantastic. It fed for a bit and then moved further into the the marsh, but not before I got this video, Glossy Ibis, and a few images.


Later on in the afternoon, someone had clearly uncorked the Wheatear bottle, as they were everywhere – The Sand Plant was awash with them running, hopping and flashing their white rumps, but sadly no Whinchats in tow.


Finally, the Snow Goose was performing really well on Crossens Inner as well as a very distant Tundra Bean, which proved just too difficult to photo in the swirling heat haze. Even worse were 2 GWE’s on Banks with necks even more impossibly shaped than normal. Despite the glare, I managed a quick video of the Snow Goose here, Snow Goose, and a couple of images that weren’t too burnt out.


What will the weekend bring, Black-winged Stilt anyone…..

Source Wading through Wigeon

Make a joke and I will sigh

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Birds popped up all over the marsh today only a few hours after I’d checked the same sites. Little did I know how apt the Black Sabbath track playing on the radio this morning on the way to Marshside would be, but the birds were certainly playing games with me today.

That aside, I had some quality time with a wide range of waders, and although I didn’t find anything rare, it all ended well.

The Ruffs were play lekking on Rimmers with at least 40 birds involved at one point, and the various colour combinations are really starting to take shape.


The Sand Plant had a nice fall of Wheatear with at least 10 birds present, although they seemed to move through in a wave as I was there and by the time I’d left there were far fewer. There is also a Ringed Plover on eggs on the lower tier so care is required when wandering through the site. I watched a photographer (no bins) virtually stand on it without even seeing the bird, let alone the nest – sign of the times!


I tramped around various other sites including Ainsdale and drew a blank for anything new, so after a tip-off from Stephen Dunstan that there were some big Dunlin flocks on the estuary, I decided to walk up the Sand Plant Road for high tide.

The waders didn’t disappoint and as well as thousands of Dunlin there was also several thousand Knot, and several hundred Ringed and Grey Plover including at least 2 of Richard Du Feu’s Orange leg flag/blue colour ring combo birds – unfortunately they were too distant to read.


My first 4 Bar-tailed Godwit for Patchwork Challenge, plus 3 Whimbrel and a Turnstone made for some variety, but nothing unusual in the Dunlin.


The incoming tide pushed the waders in to my position and I had some amazing close up views of the birds – the black and white spangled Grey Plover and Knot in orange summer garb looked fantastic.


Just as I got home, I got the message about the Snow Goose on Crossens Outer. I cracked mid afternoon, and after an ice cream bribe, I took Sadie back out with me and managed a distant view of the Goose with finders Pete and Mark. They also put me on to an LRP on Crossens Inner, but sadly I dipped the Wood Sand, they’d also seen this afternoon. Never mind, that was still 18 species of wader and the ice cream was pretty good.

And you will laugh and I will cry.



Source Wading through Wigeon

Hop it

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Eyes Lane has been pretty good over the last few days with 4 LRP, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Bl t Godwit on the fields as well as a decent number of Corn Bunting and some showy Yellowhammers.

But back to Marshside this morning and the golf course at dawn. Still nothing unusual, but the cacophony of bird song was worth the early start. Quite a few Reed Warblers now chugging away in the reed bed and my first Whimbrel of the year on Rimmers.

A few Swift hawking the Sand Plant, a pair of Wheatear, and a few Sedge Warbler but nothing much else there.


A quick look from Junction Screen produced a French colour ringed Avocet building a scrape, but the water is still a little high for most other waders.


After that, I had a walk along Crossens Inner. Not far from the road, I heard a Gropper (Grasshopper Warbler) reeling in the scrub and managed to get some great views of it over the next half an hour or so. Sadly the bird had lost its tail, but it seemed to be getting on ok, here’s a video of it enjoying the sun (shame about the traffic noise) – Gropper on Youtube

Little else on the inner marsh bar the remnants of the last couple of weeks’ White Wag passage and a pair of Stock Dove – stunning birds in the sun with their emerald neck patch.


All the Pinks that I thought had left seemed to be on Crossens Outer again, and the flock held at least 2 Russian Whitefront and a Barnacle. I was hoping for the Cheshire Snow Goose, but no joy – a lot of birds right out by the tide line though so who knows.


On to Hesketh and another look at the Yellow Wags. The male Channel type is still in the same area and I managed a better shot of it today, as well as some nice male flavissima.


Whilst in the area, I thought I’d check the reserve for Terns as they should be back by now. I saw some distant birds on the fence that ends in the water and then bumped into Edward Jennings so we walked up for a better look. Both Arctic and Common were present so 2 Patchwork Challenge ticks picked up + a nice Greenshank and a female Eider to round off the day.