Source Wading through Wigeon

Polly’s puddle

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A quick visit to Marshside before work, and the site is now very dry with Polly’s reduced to just a puddle in the far corner. There were 1,000 Dunlin on there on Friday morning, none today!

The waders have been pushed on to the pools by Sandgrounders where 300+ Dunlin were feeding. The flock held single figure numbers of juvs and 2 birds in non-breeding plumage (why do all of these grey birds look large and long billed? Is it an illusion or a ssp difference?).

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In with the Dunlin was a newly arrived full breeding plumage Spotted Red. It kept its head in most of the time, but briefly popped its bill out for a preen – I can’t really ever see enough of these, they’re great!

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Also creeping around in the mud were several young Redshank and Avocet of various ages and a Common Sand.

Got to be a good chance of a Pec Sand or something here soon as there’s no water anywhere else….

Source Wading through Wigeon

Black Flag

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An early start at Hesketh to beat the heat. A Barn Owl as I arrived on the car park was a good start, and Shelter Pool had quite a few birds on it as I peered over the sea wall. Dunlin, Avocet, Curlew, Redshank and Avocet all feeding on the fringes, but best of all was a full breeding plumage Spotted Red at the bank edge of the pool – what a stunner! Managed a short video and popped it on YouTube – not too bad if you watch in HD given distance.

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The rest of the reserve was less busy, but still held singing Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sand, Eider, Greenshank, Snipe and the usual Terns. All distant as you can see! There had been a small influx of Teal with 11 birds on one of the pools.

On to Marshide, where Nels is now just a sludgy puddle, perfect for Plovers and only really Lapwing and an LRP now present. 2 Greenshank had been there earlier in the week.

As I’d driven in, I noticed Polly’s looked lively so I walked down to the bench and set up for an hour. Scanning distant waders, into the sun with bad heat haze is not ideal, and the soundtrack of flapping England flags streaming down the coast road didn’t add anything to the experience, but I enjoyed it all the same. Another Common Sand, 2 Knot, 100 Dunlin, Ruff and best of all an early Curlew Sand feeding with the Dunlin flock made 15 species of wader for the day. Pretty much impossible to photo (look at the Knot – the grey ones!) and only the Dunlin in the nearer channel shown well enough for images.

Plenty of Gatekeepers on the wing, Lapwing chicks running from reed to reed and another Ruff on Junction ended the day.

A nice heads up from Ian Walker this afternoon about a Glossy Ibis he’d seen from the north bank of the river probably on Hesketh East. That’d be a site tick for me and is only the 2nd record for the reserve so hope it sticks. Maybe tomorrow…..

Source Wading through Wigeon

No stone unturned

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Hardly been birding on the Ribble since my holiday, so it was nice to get out early this morning for a walk along the bank at Hesketh. There might be a heatwave coming next week, but it was decidedly chilly this morning in the stiff breeze. A great start when I came a group of waders on shelter pool and they turned out to be Knot – 25 in total, the most I’ve ever seen on the deck here. Even better was a full patch tick Turnstone hunkered down in the middle of them – it only stayed a couple of minutes and was off calling, but thankfully I managed a record shot as it took to the air.

The other highlight was only my 2nd local Hobby of the year having a half hearted go at a Starling pack before heading off towards the Fylde across the marsh. Great to see that both Arctic and Common Terns have got chicks, but there seemed to be less Arctic than my last visit – maybe last weeks big tide flooded some nests out. Both Tern rafts are being used and some of the chicks are quite big so hopefully they will fledge.

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At least 10 Avocet juvs, 2 Eider, 26 Dunlin, single Curlew, Corn Bunting, another single Knot and a calling Greenshank the other birds of note.

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After seeing a few juvenile Little Egrets on Southport Marine Lake yesterday afternoon, I thought I’d go have another look to see if I could get a more accurate count. After a few attempts, I managed 31 in a single scope sweep. Undoubtedly there are more in the middle of the island, but still an impressive count and a local success story.

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The Cattle Egret was sunning itself in front of Nels – giving a nice comparison with a Little.

Plenty of Black-tailed Godwit, a feeding Shoveler family, a male (semi) Ruff, Reed Warblers, and some smart looking juv Redshank with their orange legs and spangly feathering – but nothing else of note.

Finally, the Spoonbill was still on Polly’s (does it ever move from there), but at least it was on the front bank today so it was recognisable in the pics. 5 male Wigeon there too.

Earlier in the week, the Spotted Red was in front of Nels and a couple of Common Sands were on the Marine Lake – signs that the first waders are trickling back. Roll on the downpour…

Source Wading through Wigeon

Nairn better

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Just come back from a fantastic family holiday in Nairn near Inverness, where we managed to see most of the Highland and Speyside specialities in just one full day birding plus some stop offs after days out.

An extended stop at Killiecrankie on the way up saw 2 singing Wood Warbler – what a great place to have lunch and stretch your legs.

The caravan park that we stopped at was great, right by Nairn’s lovely beach and surrounded by Gorse, Broom and some forest full of Yellowhammer and Redpoll. A few pure(ish) looking Hoodies were around with various intergrades and pure Carrions.

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The days birding was mostly spent walking in Golden Eagle territory and we saw 3 different birds – an adult and a young bird together and a lone young bird that gave fantastic views overhead – the pics with the Buzzard are quite nice as a size comparison. Also in the area there was 2 Red Kite and 2 Ring Ouzel flying around the rocky slopes.

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A quick stop at Loch Garton had the female Osprey by the nest site (not successful this year), a male Redstart flicking about and Siskin and Great-spotted Woodpecker on the feeders.

Finally a look at a Black-throated Diver site only produced a distant view, but the bird had 2 chicks in tow which was great to see.

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A stop off by Loch Mallachie one afternoon added 3 flyover Crossbill sp. (sounded like Common to me, but who knows), 2 Crested Tit flitting about in the pine canopy (one calling), Tree Pipits and Spotted Fly.

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An Osprey carrying a fish over the A9 on the way to the Highland Wildlife Park was topped by a fly through White-tailed Eagle as we drove around the safari section – despite the picture, it actually showed well, flying pretty much over the car, but I couldn’t get out to photograph it!

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An early morning trip gave me great views of Short-eared Owl and 3 lekking Black Grouse distantly on a faraway hillside. Another Shortie we’d seen earlier in the week whilst driving was so pale it almost had the colouration of Barn Owl – I’d have liked to get an image of that bird.

The same morning, I came across this pair of Red-throated Diver settled on a road side loch – stunning in the morning sun with 3 Cuckoo’s as a sound track.

An early morning seawatch from Nairn harbour was fairly quiet with the standard Kittiwake, Gannet, Auks, Eiders and Scoter, but had some nice highlights with flyby Slavonian Grebe and Black Guillemot as well as a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphin.

The last day was spent over at Findhorn on the beach where a nice group of Common and Grey Seal where sunning themselves on a spit, and a few groups of Eider through.

After lunch we watched 5 Osprey fishing in Findhorn Bay whilst we ate some excellent cakes from the village bakery (my pear and almond tart was spot on).

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Finally on the way home, we popped into a Slav Grebe site and there was one bird sat out in the open plus a female Goldeneye with 7 chicks – great end to a really good holiday. Only really missed Ptarmigan and Caper, but the cable car was shut for the first and I didn’t even try for the 2nd given current status. Shows that you can see most of the superb residents with not too much effort (and a degree of luck).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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