Tern it in

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An early start again to see  yesterday’s reported Wood Sand near Stanley High School at Marshside. It didn’t disappoint and was feeding away close to the public footpath on the pools. It had disappeared by the time I’d done the golf course and returned, but maybe it was just hiding in some of the rushy edges – cracking bird in the early morning light.


I left Marshside as the loud speaker system cranked up for the Triathlon, and decided to head for Hesketh Out Marsh. The 5 pairs of Arctic Tern were putting on a good show, as were 2 day flying Barn Owl at the far west end.


There had been a mini influx of Eider with 5 on the reserve (2m, 3f), also singing Corn Bunting and a couple of fly past Yellow Wags


The Terns made me think about the Docks, so I headed over to have a look how the Common Tern colony was shaping up this year. As always, it was a great spectacle and nice to see 5 Arctic in with them too – 2 pairs look to be nesting. It’s one of the best places to compare these 2 and it gets even more interesting later in the year when the 1st summer birds start to drop in.



Finally a GBB looked like it had been up to no good as it loitered at the end of the pontoon – look at that bill!


Ding dong the Spring is gone

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Around 8 hours of birding at Marshside and the surrounding area over the last 2 days, and the going has been tough. The waders have all but disappeared and there doesn’t seem to be much on the move, but a couple of highlights none the less.

First was a site first for me in the form of a Red Kite moving through early Friday morning – it caused havoc with the Godwits on Rimmers and then bedlam in the Gull colony on Suttons – great birds.


The 2nd was 2 Spotted Flycatchers on the Golf Course found by Pete Allen this morning – they were mobile and difficult to get close to, but provided some entertainment with their aerial acrobatics.

The Cattle Egret was still around, Crossens Inner yesterday, Suttons today. A few Corn Buntings at Banks and plenty of Reed Warbler singing around the marsh.

Try again tomorrow…..

As you were

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The weekend’s been a bit of an anti climax after Friday, despite some promising weather over Friday night. Although it’s hard to be disappointed when birds over Saturday and Sunday have included the Temminck’s again on Saturday (although more distant – 1st pic from Friday), Garganey, 2 Glossy Ibis, 4 Curlew Sand, 2 Eider, 10 Arctic Tern, my first Whinchat of the year (finally), 2 LRP, 4 Yellow Wags, 8 Wheatear, GWE and a few stunning Ruff’s still knocking about (pic courtesy of my dad).

It was nice to see my first Avocet chicks of the year today – 3 on Rimmers. You can just about make them out in this pic!


Morning Stint

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An early morning visit to Marshside paid off today when I found a Temminck’s Stint feeding along the mud edge on Rimmers Marsh. Originally picked up distantly from Hesketh Road Platform doing its mini Common Sand impression, I walked up to the bench at the junction with Marine Drive for a better view.

After 10 minutes of desperate searching (my record images thus far were not ID’able), It picked its way into view again feeding on the grass and mud edge. Not the most striking wader in the world, but they have a subtle beauty, and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 20 minutes with the bird before I had to leave for work.

There was also still 6+ Curlew Sand in the Dunlin by Marshside Road. Earlier in the week they had crept in to double figures with 11 on Tuesday morning, with a few Ring Plover mixed in and a single LRP.

The male Garganey also put in appearance on Tuesday morning.

IMG_6039 (Copy)

The marsh is on fire at the minute, what’s next…..

Cattle Market

I knew Marshside would be busy today – good birds and good weather always bring a crowd. I got out early to avoid the heat haze and the herds. The golf course was quiet, but a female Sparrowhawk perched up nicely in a tree for me.


The wader flock on Rimmers had grown in size and now 6 Curlew Sands probed the mud with around 200 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover and c50 Ruff. Couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of the Lapwings – imagine if that was rare! I found a Cattle Egret punking it up near to Avocet Island and this was the 1st one on the reserve for a while – hopefully now the cattle are back, they’ll return in bigger numbers and breed on the marine lake.


The 2 Glossy Ibis dropped in, but then seemed to go missing later on in the morning.


On to Crossens for the geese, and a smashing Tundra Bean showed really well in about 1000 Pinks – even managed a quick video Tundra Bean


A male Eider looked out of place on the grass, as they always do, a Common Sand was bobbing round the pools (honest) and a Peregrine was distantly perched up.


A message from Kim and Sean that they’d found a drake Garganey on Rimmers provided a welcome detour as that was a nice year tick, despite the distance!

IMG_5935Another quick look at the geese with my mum and dad rounded of the day. The Tundra was still there, but had moved to the back of the flock. Always a great bird to see – never tire of them.

And that was that, now to enjoy the garden, where’s that Hobby…..


When the Arctic meets the Med

You have to love Spring migration – a real medley of winter and summer species with a good sprinkling of common migrants and a dash of the exotic. Marshside has been on superb form this week, helped by some serious hours put in by the cream of the local regulars. No new finds today, but a couple of sessions before and after work resulted in some amazing close up views of some of the recent highlights.

4 Curlew Sands were performing well on Rimmers. They’re one of my favourite birds so I just sat and watched them for an hour first thing. One of the birds nearly in full breeding plumage looked stunning in the morning light.



Some video of them feeding here Curlew Sand 1 and Curlew Sand 2

As I was watching them, one of yesterday’s Glossy Ibis drifted over me and then settled down only 20 meters away – fantastic. It fed for a bit and then moved further into the the marsh, but not before I got this video, Glossy Ibis, and a few images.


Later on in the afternoon, someone had clearly uncorked the Wheatear bottle, as they were everywhere – The Sand Plant was awash with them running, hopping and flashing their white rumps, but sadly no Whinchats in tow.


Finally, the Snow Goose was performing really well on Crossens Outer as well as a very distant Tundra Bean, which proved just too difficult to photo in the swirling heat haze. Even worse were 2 GWE’s on Banks with necks even more impossibly shaped than normal. Despite the glare, I managed a quick video of the Snow Goose here, Snow Goose, and a couple of images that weren’t too burnt out.


What will the weekend bring, Black-winged Stilt anyone…..

Make a joke and I will sigh

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Birds popped up all over the marsh today only a few hours after I’d checked the same sites. Little did I know how apt the Black Sabbath track playing on the radio this morning on the way to Marshside would be, but the birds were certainly playing games with me today.

That aside, I had some quality time with a wide range of waders, and although I didn’t find anything rare, it all ended well.

The Ruffs were play lekking on Rimmers with at least 40 birds involved at one point, and the various colour combinations are really starting to take shape.


The Sand Plant had a nice fall of Wheatear with at least 10 birds present, although they seemed to move through in a wave as I was there and by the time I’d left there were far fewer. There is also a Ringed Plover on eggs on the lower tier so care is required when wandering through the site. I watched a photographer (no bins) virtually stand on it without even seeing the bird, let alone the nest – sign of the times!


I tramped around various other sites including Ainsdale and drew a blank for anything new, so after a tip-off from Stephen Dunstan that there were some big Dunlin flocks on the estuary, I decided to walk up the Sand Plant Road for high tide.

The waders didn’t disappoint and as well as thousands of Dunlin there was also several thousand Knot, and several hundred Ringed and Grey Plover including at least 2 of Richard Du Feu’s Orange leg flag/blue colour ring combo birds – unfortunately they were too distant to read.


My first 4 Bar-tailed Godwit for Patchwork Challenge, plus 3 Whimbrel and a Turnstone made for some variety, but nothing unusual in the Dunlin.


The incoming tide pushed the waders in to my position and I had some amazing close up views of the birds – the black and white spangled Grey Plover and Knot in orange summer garb looked fantastic.


Just as I got home, I got the message about the Snow Goose on Crossens Outer. I cracked mid afternoon, and after an ice cream bribe, I took Sadie back out with me and managed a distant view of the Goose with finders Pete and Mark. They also put me on to an LRP on Crossens Inner, but sadly I dipped the Wood Sand, they’d also seen this afternoon. Never mind, that was still 18 species of wader and the ice cream was pretty good.

And you will laugh and I will cry.



Hop it

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Eyes Lane has been pretty good over the last few days with 4 LRP, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Bl t Godwit on the fields as well as a decent number of Corn Bunting and some showy Yellowhammers.

But back to Marshside this morning and the golf course at dawn. Still nothing unusual, but the cacophony of bird song was worth the early start. Quite a few Reed Warblers now chugging away in the reed bed and my first Whimbrel of the year on Rimmers.

A few Swift hawking the Sand Plant, a pair of Wheatear, and a few Sedge Warbler but nothing much else there.


A quick look from Junction Screen produced a French colour ringed Avocet building a scrape, but the water is still a little high for most other waders.


After that, I had a walk along Crossens Inner. Not far from the road, I heard a Gropper (Grasshopper Warbler) reeling in the scrub and managed to get some great views of it over the next half an hour or so. Sadly the bird had lost its tail, but it seemed to be getting on ok, here’s a video of it enjoying the sun (shame about the traffic noise) – Gropper on Youtube

Little else on the inner marsh bar the remnants of the last couple of weeks’ White Wag passage and a pair of Stock Dove – stunning birds in the sun with their emerald neck patch.


All the Pinks that I thought had left seemed to be on Crossens Outer again, and the flock held at least 2 Russian Whitefront and a Barnacle. I was hoping for the Cheshire Snow Goose, but no joy – a lot of birds right out by the tide line though so who knows.


On to Hesketh and another look at the Yellow Wags. The male Channel type is still in the same area and I managed a better shot of it today, as well as some nice male flavissima.


Whilst in the area, I thought I’d check the reserve for Terns as they should be back by now. I saw some distant birds on the fence that ends in the water and then bumped into Edward Jennings so we walked up for a better look. Both Arctic and Common were present so 2 Patchwork Challenge ticks picked up + a nice Greenshank and a female Eider to round off the day.

A for effort

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Some serious field hours and footsteps covered today, but very little reward – seems like the surrounding areas were scoring, but really struggled for any quality today. Let’s not complain too much, it was great to feel the sun on my back, but the birds just didn’t play ball today.

Started at the Golf Course at dawn and it felt like it would be a good day – 8+ Redpoll through and my first Tree Pipit of the year. A pair of Sparrowhawk chased through the scrub and Whitethroats were in fine song, but little else of note.

The Sand Plant still had a few White Wags around (there were still plenty on Crossens etc), a pair of Wheatear, the resident tame Dunlin and a few Willow Warbler including an acredula type


A quick look at Crossens Inner produced a Common Sand, but the geese on the outer marsh were too distant so I didn’t bother. On to Hesketh for a look at the Wagtails hoping for a Blue-headed (or better). No joy, but the flavissma  showed well with at least 4 males and 2 female.


Afternoon in the garden produced Swift, House Martin and  a Holly Blue – maybe I should have stayed at home.

As the littlest hobo used to say – maybe tomorrow….

Unfinished Business

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An excellent day on the Ribble – an early start, a few migrants, re-found the Brant and some good company.

Started early on the golf course and sand plant which were pretty quiet apart from the newly arrived Willows, Blackcaps and Chiffs. The sand plant had a nice pair of Ringed Plover, a Sprawk and the start of what became a huge movement of White Wags. Ruff continue to don their summer garb.

Really, I was killing time to start the search for the presumed Grey-bellied Brant I found last week. The poor images and limited views felt like unfinished business so that was the main priority of the day. Crossens Outer had the resident 2 Barnacles, but nothing else so I moved on to Banks.

After a couple of scans, I picked up the Brant distantly towards Hesketh Out Marsh so set off down the bank for closer views. The bird showed well in much better light and I managed some reasonable shots. Also 4 more Barnacles, 10,000 Pinks inc. at least 8 neck/sat collars.

I watched the bird for over 2 hours and was joined by Pete Kinsella and Mark Nightingale late morning. Having noted all the features of the birds, we decided to try the Hesketh fields for Yellow Wags as there was a very large number of White Wags on the outer marsh.

Almost straight away we picked up 2 birds flying over our heads and then a further bird in a ploughed field – they are simply stunning and the Spring’s first always surprises me with its intense colour.

A fox bounded through whilst watching the Wagtails and a few butterflies were on the wing – Small Tort and Peacock


Rounded the day off with another look at Crossens Outer and Mark picked up a nice Russian Whitefront in the several thousand Pinks – great end to a fantastic day.