Martin Mere WWT, Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh RSPB - 11th December 2009

I decided to take the day off work and with the wind and rain holding off (but not the cold) I dropped Reece off at school and headed over to Martin Mere.

On the walk down to the Ron Barker hide there were the usual mix of finches, Tits, Tree Sparrow, Robin, Blackbird and a female Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Upstairs from the hide were a large mix of birds but nothing much out of the ordinary and the only raptor showing was a single Buzzard. Pinkfooted Geese were in large numbers in a distant field as well as 10 Barnacle Geese, Whooper Swans flew over in small numbers also as I watched. Ducks included Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Shellduck while waders were restricted to Lapwing and a 10 Black Tailed Godwit.

 A couple of Heron, Pheasant, Cormorant and a Greater Black Backed Gull that flushed the Teal and Wigeon were the only other birds of note. My fingers were going numb with the cold so I decided to head for a coffee calling in the other hides briefly as I made my way back. Other sightings included a good number of Pintail, Greylag, a few Pochard and the surprise of a Ruddy Duck from the Swan Link hide. After a feed and a warming coffee I headed over to Marshside and just the Sandgrounders hide as I struggled with the sun from the viewing screens. It’s a while since I’d been here and was surprised by the sheer numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Black Tailed Godwit and Golden Plover. Pochard and Shoveler were around in small numbers as well as Pinkfooted Geese and the only raptors on show were 2 Kestrel, 1 being mobbed by 2 Magpie on the hedges to the left of the hide.
It was time to move on and with the weather being bright I decided to head down to Hesketh Out Marsh to see how the new RSPB reserve was doing after its opening.
Not surprisingly I was the only person around though before I left I was joined by 2 ‘grumpy old men’ who were visiting for the first time and a local birder who passed on his recent sightings from the site. I sat watching for several hours taking advantage of the lack of wind and rain but was slightly disappointed with the lack of species here, though maybe a walk up the flood defence wall would increase this. Redshank were on show in small numbers briefly taking to the air as they moved from pool to pool with their unmistakable call, also a few Curlew were apparent in the distant and became quite vocal as the sun began to set. Shellduck were around in small numbers and a flight of 6 Whooper Swan flew over mid afternoon. Robin, Wren, Lapwing, Cormorant and a large flock of Goldfinch took the species almost to its limit.
I’m undecided about my favourite sighting here, the toss up would be watching a flock of 8 Pied Wagtail and 6 Meadow Pipit feeding very close to the viewing platform throughout the afternoon or the Merlin that flew in several times (once almost taking a Redshank) in the last half hour before I left.


Later in the evening whilst taking my usual walk with the dogs I heard the local Tawny Owl calling from the Stags Lodge area of Cuerden Valley Park.

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