Hesketh Out Marsh - 17th January 2010

Reece wanted to head up to Marton Mere to see if the reported American Bittern was around but as we had little time I thought and hours visit to HOM would be better. I pulled in to a very full car park to see an almost full viewing point and BBC Radio Lancashire interviewing Graham the RSPB warden we'd met on last weeks walk.
Raptors were present in small numbers including 2 Merlin, 3 Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier (seen before I arrived). Teal, Wigeon and good numbers Shellduck as well as Pinkfooted by the Ribble and over head. A few Redshank showed close and Curlew, Snipe and Lapwing showed in the distance, the latter also in the nearby fields. 2 Bewick's were a good sighting on the Warton side, 11 Whooper flew over and 4 Mute in a nearby stretch of water. As well as the odd Skylark fly by c20 Fieldfare fed in the field by the carpark.

RSPB Marshside guided walk - 10th January 2010

Thanks go out to Graham the warden for the reserve who showed a goup of us around on what was a very cold morning. Although we visit Marshside quite a lot on our trips out we took our first trip around the back of the sand plant and learnt the best places to look for certain species. Sightings on the 2 hour walk included 6 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 2 Kestrel, 50+ Skylark (+ many smaller flocks across the marsh), Meadow Pipit, 20+ Linnet, Dunock, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Redshank, Curlew, Wigeon, Pinkfooted Geese, barnacle Geese and a Blue Snow Goose (not sure if we can tick that).


Life tick for Reece when we sat in McDonalds drive through car park eating some 'lunch'. We searched through the Gulls and spotted a Yellow-legged amongst the Black-headed, Common and Herring Gull.

At Cuerden Valley Park yesterday we saw 3 Common Buzzard (2 of them at Stags Lodge), something we haven't seen in the area for at least 18 months. Back this afternoon at Stags Lodge a Common Buzzard was being mobbed by 2 Carrion Crow.

Martin Mere & Marshside - 8th January 2010

With Reeces school closed because of the weather and me not in work due to my 3.30am return from Ireland we decided to put the day to good use. First stop was Martin Mere but not the Ron Barker hide, when we eventually headed down there all we saw was 15 Lapwing.
We started in the warmth of the Raines hide were several hundered Whooper were on view though no sign of a Bewicks. Also seen were Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shellduck, Coot, Greylag, Pinkfooted, Blackbird and Ruff. The Swanlink hide we added a Black-headed and Herring Gull plus the white Ruff we've seen on our last few visits.

 The feeder hide added Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow, Blue & Great Tit, Greenfinch and Robin.


The walk between the hides brought Fieldfare and Redwing though we missed the Brambling that was reported at the feeders in front of the Infocus shop. The final stop was the hen Harrier Hide somewhere we haven't had much luck from in the past but with the sun shining through the glass it was quite warm so we stayed for a good look around. We were rewarded with 2 Water Rail showing very well also a Little Egret and a Meadow Pipit as we left. Amongst the already noted we spotted Tufted Duck and Pochard.


After seeing our first Short-eared Owl on new years day we added two more sightings on our Marshside visit as well as 2 Merlin. Waders were scarce but not a suprise with all the ice around though we did manage the odd Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit. In the distance we saw large flocks of both Teal, Wigeon and Shellduck as well as Pinkfooted Geese scattered across the marsh. Gulls included Greater Black Backed, Herring, Common and Black Headed.

Ireland 5th - 7th January 2010

The trip was very much work related and no chance to get out birding but I did see one or two whilst on the trip worth noting. I took my binoculars and camera with the hope of sea watching on the 8.20 ferry from Holyhead to Dublin but with Tuesday being the day the weather turned the crossing wasn't the best and even though I saw a few different species I couldn't get any photos and very few I could identify in the short time I saw them. Black Headed, Common, Herring, and Yellow Legged Gull were all noted. Waders included Curlew and Knot plus two other species flying feet from the surface and out of reach for an proper identification. Redwing were common across all days as well as Rook, Magpie and Chaffinch. A Pied Wagtail visited my place of work everyday regardless of the heavy snow and the 3 Hooded Crow on my last day were a suprise. The only photos I managed to get were of a sheltering Hare in an area next to the site I was working, initially there were 2 and boxed (I'm sure I've read somewhere its the females that do this) briefly before one decided to move off.


A Tawny Owl was my last sighting of the trip but that was whilst driving at 2am along the A55 on the way home this morning.

West Lancs Birding - 1st January 2010

The day started well (at least for Reece) with the sighting of 5 Ring-necked Parakeet on the power cables on Curlew Lane near Marton Mere. I know 'down south' they are now considered a pest in the capital but to see them so far north and with temperatures of -2 (according to the cars gauge) was a little suprising. Also along the lane, a place always worth a look if your traveling to Martin Mere, were Corn Bunting 10+, Common Buzzard, Fieldfare 2, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Rook and Jackdaw.
Martin Mere was a little quiet and as usual we started at the Ron Barker hide were we bumped into Iain who I first met early December in the same hide. We set up and had a glance around with Wigeon, Teal, Grey Heron, Shellduck, Mallard, Lapwing, Cormorant, Moorhen, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Geese, Stonechat and a Little Grebe on show. The woodland walk contained the usual mix of birds including Blue & Great Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow, Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Woodpigeon and 4+ Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 1 of them drumming. Brief visits to all the hides to the Swan Link included Pintail, Coot, Pochard, Greylag, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Carrion Crow, Redshank and Ruff including the mainly white one we saw on our last visit.
Next was on to Hesketh out Marsh with Little Egret and Mistle Thrush being added to our days list. We parked up and had a breif glance out across the flooded marsh with just Shellduck and Redshank visible. We then decided to walk down the public footpath to see if there was much else across the reserve and where the path turns left back into the fields we flushed our first Short Eared Owl. How we had missed it sat on the post to the right about 10 feet in front of us I'll never know but we watched it fly out across the marsh and then get mobbed by a Carrion Crow before disapearing out of view. 4 Mute Swan and a large flock of Whooper Swan, to far to check for Bewick Swan which Reece was hopping to see. Several Little Egret, Teal, Wigeon,Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and Fieldfare rounded the visit off.
Finally we headed over to Marshside which seemed very quiet bird wise, none of the numbers of Lapwing I saw in early December and no sign of a Golden Plover or Godwit I'd seen on the same visit. Teal And Wigeon were still there in numbers along with a few Shoveler, Pink-footed Geese, Greylag and Canada Geese. We did go in search of the reported Snow Goose but couldn't find it anywhere. We did manage to see the Great White Egret before it headed out towards the Ribble, also several more Little Egret and a Stonechat near the sand works. Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Jackdaw finished the day off. We did have a quick look for the much reported hunting Short-eared Owls but with the cold wind blowing in our faces we finished the last of our coffee and headed home to the warmth.