Local Spring twitching

The last few days have certainly been eventful in birding terms. Last Thursday there were some Dotterel on the top of Pendle so I managed to persuade Bernie to accompany me to the top of the hill that evening. The wind was rather blustery on the top and we soon found a few birders searching for the birds that hadn't been seen for ages. We searched the favoured habitat just south of the trig point but to no avail. As we were working our way back up I got the call - they were on the northern slope - I could see the assembled throung (less than ten hardy souls) in the distance so we set off apace. However half way there we could see the group disband and we got the news that we were dreading - they'd flow off. Ah well, my first dip in 25 years of going up Pendle in May.
Sunday was a day that I was let out - Bernie was busy decorating a wedding cake - and so I decided to do some local birding. First stop was a favourite place of mine - Upper Hodder Bridge. I remember coming here nearly 35 years ago with the Southport RSPB group and having to sit outside the pub whilst everyone else went in for a drink - it was a hot day and they did at least bring me out a lemonade. The place was fantastic and I've always enjoyed exploring it.
Over the last two years, I've regularly come accross a Kingfisher here but I haven't seen it this year. A Grey Wagtail bobbed under the bridge and a dipper zoomed by. Just along the (very muddy) path I could hear a Garden Warbler singing in much the same place I've heard one over all these years.
It was being rather elusive, keeping rather low in the bushes but eventually came up and gave me a brief opportunity for a picture.A Chiffchaff sang out and several treecreepers were calling, clearly recently fledged. The rest of the woods were full of the regulars and a Redstart sang from the top of an Oak tree.Then I got a message about a Dotterel on the top of Pendle again - I ummed and aahed as I got back to the car and drove in the general direction but I decided to give it a miss and see what I could find in Bowland. I stopped on Champion Moor for a while - Wheatears were very agtive as were a pair of Stonechats, whilst a Grasshopper Warbler started to reel. From there I went to Croasdale Fell where I normally come accross Whinchats. A Red Grouse welcomed me in the drizzle, telling me to 'go-back, go-back'. I ignored its advice and a little further on came across a male Stonechat chacking away. Then I heard the subtle song of a Whinchat and found the bird amongst the bracken stems - I never tire of these birds, especially in fine breeding plumage.
Then, another text from Billy - Red-necked Grebe at Brockholes. Now that's a bird I had to see and an hour later I was admiring its fine summer plumage along with the regular posse. It's been a long time since I'd seen a summer plumaged bird (1985 in Sweden I think!), so this was very welcome.
I was now well and truly in twitching mode so I decided to go to Mum's in Ainsdale (via a flock of Dotterel on Plex Moss of course!) Though nowhere near as obliging as Dotterel can be atop Pendle, it was nice to see a flock of 16 birds on the old patch. A couple of Whimbrel joined them and then a bird of prey spooked them. They flew around for ages and then disappeared into a distant field. Mum wasn't in so I called in at Marshside for the Garganey that sat obligingly on Junction Pool (as you can see from this rubbish picture.)


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