What a great place to spend a few hours bird watching. Those who read my blog (I know the 2 of you) will know this is my third visit to see the Brown Shrike, though this time I was trying for some improved photographs and as you can see I lucked out in that department. I did try the scope / mobile combination as well as the K20 + 300mm lens but even though I had better views than my last visit it just wasn't close enough for my gear and the sooner I can get the money together for the Sigma 500mm lens the better but hey I digress.
YES IT REALLY IS THE BROWN SHRIKE!
Whilst there I met Bob a local patch birder who was most helpful in getting some extra sightings in the area and 2 guys from Derby who had come down early in the morning and whom I joined for a walk around the patch. Once finished with the shrike I followed the river south in search of a Water Pipit that has been seen in the area but apart from a Kingfisher, several Pied Wagtail there seemed to be no sign of it. A large flock of Pipit type birds caught my attention but these seemed to be mainly Skylark and I'm sure the odd Meadow and Tree Pipit. It was further around the bend of the river the Water Pipit appeared though it didn't stay still long enough to even get a record shot. Also down at this end of the patch was a Little Egret a bird I see regularly at Leighton Moss but not something seen much in this area.
LITTLE EGRET WITH A GREY HERON IN THE BACKGROUND
The walk back to the spot I saw the shrike brought a grounded Green Woodpecker, Blackbird and a distant Greater Spotted Woodpecker. The shrike didn't seem to be showing so not having much time I decided to head back. The walk back gave 2 Stonechat, several Tit flocks including Long Tailed but no sign of the Firecrest that has been amongst them in the area, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, 20 Fieldfare, Reed Bunting and a Cetti's Warbler. Anyone looking for the Cetti's (it was more luck than skill that we came across it), there is an open area to the right with barbed wire and a sign saying 'private keep out'. In the distance you will see some reed beds but we noticed it behind a Reed Bunting in the reddish looking tree to the left of the reed beds. It was its call that attracted us to it at first, very loud and distinctive and the fact I'd heard on at Leighton Moss 2 weeks before helped.
A rainy day alone took me up to Leighton Moss in search of the reported Snow Geese. I know it was a little late and to be honest I didn't have my hopes up but an email last Tuesday from Mike containing 2 distant photo's sent me on my way. Also in the email contained directions to a viewpoint that gives breathtaking views of the whole area on which the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides sit and upon finding it I set myself up in the rain to see what I could find. I spotted the 4 Snow Geese straight away but after setting my scope up I lost sight of them. A couple from Lytham joined me and after pointing out the general direction I'd seen them we were soon back onto them. With the rain falling and the place being very exposed I decided to move down to the Eric Morecambe hide but not before seeing 30+ Graylag and 2 Little Egret.
SNOW GEESE WITH GREYLAG COURTESEY OF MIKE FOLEY
The Snow Geese were also visible from the Eric Morecambe hide along with 3 Great White Egret. Waders included 25+ Curlew, 3 Dunlin, 30+ Redshank, 2 Greenshank and 50+Lapwing, Pochard, Wigeon, Shellduck, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler rounded the visit up before moving off to the public hide.
REDSHANK, SHELTERING FROM THE RAIN? (CLICK TO EXPAND)
The public hide brought more 'ducks' with a single female Scaup, Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Teal. A Greater Black Backed Gull flew over whilst 3 Cormorant roosted on the little island. There were also several winter plumage Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan and dare I mention the Coot that seem to gather in numbers here.
As I headed back south I called in at Pine Lake to see if I could see the Slavonian Grebe and this time much to Reece's disappointment there it was at the north end. Also on the lake were 4 Goosander, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and yes more Coot.
ABOVE BLACK-HEADED GULL BELOW ROOSTING OYSTERCATCHER (CLICK TO EXPAND)
After Pine Lake I decided to pay a brief visit to Hest Bank. I say brief as even though the tide was in there wasn't much about as a springer spaniel was causing havoc as it ran up and down the area. I did manage to see several Redshank, Black-Headed Gull, 500+ Oystercatcher and the odd Lapwing. It's the first time I've been here but I'll call in again as you can view most of the area from the car if it's raining.
The last call was Conder and with the tide being so high I thought there might be more about but just the odd Redshank, Curlew and a single Oystercatcher on the creek. The lake was slightly better with 4 Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Redshank, Curlew and Goldeneye.