Blog Post: A Marshside mix – guest writer and Marshside regular Martin Campbell

Marshside observations from a Marshside regular At this time of year, there are thousands of birds, pretty much everywhere at Marshside, alternately picked out by the low winter sun and disappearing in the overcast gloom. There has been days of perfect light as well as some dark, gloomy days, some of those fortuitously relenting to the winter sunshine eventually. There's a wide variety of ducks on the pools, including high numbers of wigeon , teal and pintail . The handsome male pochards stand out with with their stunning red eyes reflecting the sun as they drift in the wind, viewed well from Nel's hide. Days of perfect, lovely light display golden plover as their name suggests, golden and shimmering in the winter rays of the sun. There are an estimated 2,200+ golden plovers over-wintering here, a few of them are already beginning to show the black of their stunning breeding plumage on their underparts. Seeing these flocks wheeling through the skies is mesmerising, their golden shimmers twisting and turning in the sun. Alongside these are roughly 4.300 lapwing , peewit or green plover as they used to be known. The sun once again uncovers the beauty of their plumage. Iridescence giving rise to shades of blue, green and purple. From Fairclough's (Hesketh Road), groups of winter black headed gulls , all face into the wind, just like the plovers and redshank are easily spotted feeding in the shallow waters. From Nel's Hide little grebes give their locations away with their neighing horse like calls whilst little egret and pied wagtail are frequently observed regulars from Sandgrounder's Hide. Winter peregrines give amazing and spectacular displays of hunting skills and are often viewed from Fairclough's platform (Hesketh Road) these flybys frequently throw the ducks and waders into mass panic. Scattering them in all directions until some sort of calm is restored, often temporary as they are always on high alert, the redshank often poised even more acutely than anyone else. Photos: Two male pochards and "peregrine panic" by Martin Campbell Cover photo: Little grebe by Martin Campbell