Going the distance

With a bit more time on my hands than normal, I thought I’d restart the blog – it might be a one off, or maybe the start of a new chapter – who knows. Today’s social distancing was immensely enjoyable with just the birds, the wind and the odd fellow marsh wanderer for company.

A dawn start at the golf course was my first proper go at migrant hunting this year. Ironically, the first birds that sailed past was a bunch of 8 Cattle Egrets heading east from their marine lake roost.

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A chilly walk round the course added a singing Cetti’s, Siskin overhead calling and a group of 9 Redwing through which were all new patch birds for the year. Plenty of calling and singing Chiffs too. The 3 Scaup were still in tight formation on Rimmers, pretty much moulted into breeding finery.

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Next was about 4 hours walking up and down the sea wall along Banks Marsh – pretty much from Crossens to Hesketh in total. All the “good geese” were at the west end, with the Grey-bellied Brant giving some of the best views I’ve had of it in nice light. Watching it bashing up the Pinks was great, such a charismatic little goose with a serious attitude.

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The close ups are great, but I like this atmospheric one the best – geese rising in the background.

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Next up was a distant Whitefront that looked like a nice Russian at first with its pale plumage and pinkish bill, but as it came a little closer, it was the pale lone Greenlander that’s been out there for a few weeks – it’s an interesting bird and certainly looks much different to the resident darker pair that also showed.

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At least 11 Barnacle also out there and whilst scanning the geese, 7 Eider flew along the estuary (3 ad male, 2 fem, 1 imm male) which were also new for the year. The cream headed Marsh Harrier patrolled distantly and at least 3 Merlin were terrorising the Meadow Pipits. Non-goose highlight was this Hen Harrier that ghosted past me into the wind – what a beauty!

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Bumped into Ian Walker and his wife out with the dog on the bank and then had one last go from the Wildfowlers pull in on Marine Drive were I picked up the Todd’s working its way along distantly with some Pinks.

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Then the Brant dropped in and the 2 birds crossed paths – terrible image, but a great moment.

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The 3 Greenlanders were all on view and the last bird before departing was a Water Pipit calling overhead – lovely end to a fantastic few hours. What welcome relief from the meeting filled, hectic week dealing with our current situation.