Midget gem

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
Early start at Hesketh hoping that some mud was showing again after a week without any tidal top ups, but its still too high for small waders. The visit started well(ish) with a pair of Egyptian Geese flew over the car as I arrived in the car park. A full patch tick even though they probably squeak if you squeeze them. A relatively quick visit, but still 2 adult Spotted Red on Shelter Pool and another one further up the reserve, Greenshank, 2 GWE, Avocet (doesn’t look well), 2 Peregrine (ad, juv), 3 Ruff (2ad, juv), 8 Dunlin, 3 Golden Plover, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Jackdaw through. There was a lot of geese over and I half expected my first Whoopers, but they didn’t materialise. A quick call in at Marshside, and the 4 Cattle Egret were on Fairclough’s – part of the southern influx from last month moving north I ...
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Petrel heads

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
An early morning jaunt to Ainsdale today as the weather looked favourable for a few Leach’s. The wind had too much South in it, but a decent amount of West when I first got there and I was rewarded after about half an hour with a cracking juv Sab’s gull fairly close in to shore fighting its way south towards Formby and the Wirral (a juv was also picked out at New Brighton about an hour later, again close in, so maybe the same bird). I was joined by John Dempsey and he picked out a distant Leach’s quite far down the beach towards Southport and we watched it briefly before it disappeared in the surf. Also single Manx, 2 Kittiwake, 10+ Guillemot, another 30 or so Auk sp., a few Gannets, 6 Pintail, 7 Golden Plover + the usual waders, terns and gulls. 2 interesting LWHG’s – first one clearly a hybrid LBB/Herring, bu...
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The Redeemer

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
After the disappointment of last weeks Semi-P debacle, messing up a probable 3rd for Lancs on patch, it was nice to somewhat redeem myself by finding a cracking moulting adult American Golden Plover at Marshside today. Initially very distant, its very white super, slim build and constant movement made it stand out at the back of the marsh. On its own at first, I struggled to get some sort of image. The first ones are particularly grainy, but the light was perhaps better at this point. It was flushed about 4 times in the first half an hour so had to keep refinding it to get some better images – it gradually landed nearer, but was never really in decent image range. A cracking bird through the scope though. The strong sunlight didn’t help either. A couple of shaky videos too – the fresh westerly may be helping w...
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Calidris ferruginea

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
  A thoroughly miserable morning at Hesketh weatherwise, but a close encounter with one of my favourite waders eclipsed the rain and the wind and was worth the early start and the drenching. Curlew Sandpipers are a fantastic bird – stunning in their range of plumages with their elegant structure and long curved bill. The birds today were 3 nice fresh juveniles with a lovely peachy wash on the breast; scalloped mantle, scaps and coverts; and a strong super making them stand out at long range against the duller, plainer and dumpier Dunlin. These juveniles were fearless, maybe I was the first human they had ever seen, and they fed right in front of me down to just a few meters. The weather and light impacted the images, but I managed a reasonable video to give a feel of the experience. The scope views were just amazing. It’...
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Return of the Tringa

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
A early morning quick visit to Hesketh was superb today – there had been a clear fall of waders with 2 Spotted Red and min 8 Greenshank feeding loosely together on one of the first pools. Also 3 juv Ruff and a couple of Whimbrel all in the first full sweep! A Great White Egret was fishing in one of the gutters – what a difference a few days makes. A few record shots here, as most birds were distant in HOM’s usual fashion. This picture pretty much sums that first scope sweep up – 2 Spotted Red together, a Greenshank and a GWE. A Sparrowhawk caused a bit of a stir as it flap, flap, glided in and landed on one of the posts. The resident Avocet was still on the main pool as was a single Dunlin – as I was watching that bird I saw it look up and then I heard a Little Stint calling. The bird was in a flock of 5...
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Ob-skua

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
The usual tour around the Ribble sites this morning – felt very autumnal early on at Hesketh especially with my 1st Pintail (an eclipse male) back on patch, 50+ Wigeon and the same of Teal. A few waders knocking about including the singe Avocet that’s been resident for the last few weeks, 2 Greenshank, 8 Dunlin, and around 40 Golden Plover in the near fields. There was a flock of about 500 flying about by the river, but they settled in an unviewable spot. A Wheatear was feeding along the fence line, and a Chiffchaff was calling from the hedge, but very little else in terms of small stuff. Finally, a fantastic juv Merlin was hunting over the marsh and then let up on one of the posts for a short while. On to Banks where one of the fields was full of Wagtails and Pipits. 20 or so Whites and 6 Yellow were mixed in with the Pi...
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Hokey Cokey

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
An early start at Hesketh and I was greeted with a rainbow as I pulled into the carpark – I knew it was a sign that the rain was coming, but it seemed dry so I started off up the path. A minute later and I was running back down it, cursing the demise of the worst shelter in the history of shelters (but still better than none at all). The rain bounced off the car as I waited for a break in the weather. The same thing happened the next time I ventured out, and by the third soaking I just soldiered on along the bank, squelching as I went (in, out, in, out, shake it all about). A nice Marsh Harrier was quartering the reserve, and then settled down for a short while – looked like the adult I saw yesterday. Also a Sparrowhawk perched on the fence and best of all, a fly through Hobby – only my 3rd of the year in the Ribbl...
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Terned out nice again

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
A midday walk along Ainsdale beach with Claire for the high tide was a real spectacle – I’d forgotten just how fantastic it is here when the waders get pushed in by a big one. A couple of stubborn dog walkers/bird flushers disturbed the birds, but the poor forecast probably put plenty off even though it actually turned warm with a haze of sunshine. Nice to see some Ribble birding regulars out as well. The terns screeched and floated around in circles, settling on the beach when they got chance. Several hundred Sandwich, fewer Common and the highlight being an adult and juv Little – beautiful birds with such a distinctive call, it was great to watch this pair at fairly close range. A short video of the adult here – it was ringed, would really like to have known the origin of it. I’d actually come looking for g...

Shear luck

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
Started the Dorset holiday with a 4 hour sea watch off Portland on Sunday afternoon as the weather looked good for bringing in some birds. Better than I could have expected with the highlight being finding a west bound Great Shear that gave a decent view as it shot through. Also managed to get the other 2 birders on site on to it as well, smiles all round. The Balearic Shears gave some amazing views feeding in with a close Gannet group and some close in Sooty’s added to the excitement. Final counts – 1 Gt Shear, 34 (min) Balearic, 3 Sooty, 8 Bonxie, 12 Fulmar, lost count of Meds (mostly juvs) plus plenty of common stuff like Kittewake, Manx, etc. A superb afternoon! Yesterday I went back at dawn to see if there was anything still coming through, but the wind had died down so just a single Balearic west of any note. However there wer...
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Musical youth

Posted on - In Wading through Wigeon
A very early start at a murky Hesketh Out Marsh this morning. It felt great to bird in conditions other than “scorchio” although the reduced visibility provided by the light drizzle had a knock on effect with the photo quality! Up to 3 juvenile Arctic Tern were perfecting their fishing techniques on shelter pool and it was very relaxing watching them dancing through the air and splashing down in an almost rhythmic motion – I managed a quick video of one touch down after learning their training route. The other juveniles of note were 3 Yellow Wagtails using the reserve fence to bound down into the water logged grass and probe for insects. They were constantly calling, but never came close enough for good pictures. Great to know that these 2 species have both been successful in the area again this year. Waders were repr...
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