Egrets and Herons

As no-one was available to twitch to Norfolk, I decided on a relatively local twitch and some high-water birding. Fist call was Poynton, south of Stockport, where a Cattle Egret had been in residence for several weeks. There was no sign in the reported place but a walk further down the path found the cattle and there, partially concealed was the egret. Eventually it decided to fly around and so I got some clearer if not close views.

Next, I decided to head for Parkgate on the Wirral, a place I hadn't visited for some time. It was a good two hours before high tide when I arrived and the car park was filling up quickly. Most birds were well out and there was a shimmering haze over the marsh. A Peregrine sat out on the marsh and another flew overhead. there were several Little Egrets flying in and around the pools along with the expected Teal, Pintail, Wigeon and waders. A couple of Merlins put in an appearance along with a Buzzard and three Short-eared Owls.

There were plently of waders and a few Pink-footed Geese and the Skylarks were singing all over the place. At high tide, the sea still hadn't covereded the whole marsh like it used to do but further out there were a few indications of activity. Snipe started to take flight and then a Water Rail was seen, only to be attacked by a Grey Heron. The crowd soon got onto the scene as the Heron killed the rail and attempted to swallow it whole. A few Crows came to have a look as did three other herons but after about 15 minutes of effort, it got it down it's neck - I saw another rail run for cover! It was distant but I just about got an image of it.

Finally I decided to put in a brief call at Wigan Flashes to see if I could pick up a Willow Tit. After a drenching from a passing shower I heard a distant wheeze that didn't belong to the singing Greenfinches. A minute later I heard it again and locked on to the bull-necked tit with Blue and Great Tits. It's a bird I've not seen for a couple of years as it's virtually disappeared from Lancashire and only remains in the Wigan - Warrington area locally.


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