Back to the marshes

As I filled the feeders this morning, I could hear the familiar mournful whistle of a Bullfinch so I was pleasantly surprised to get three of them including two unringed females. Good numbers of Gold, Green and Chaffinches have been visiting lately as well as two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. A couple of Redpoll were heard over the garden at the weekend but I've not seen them down yet.
A visit to Rishton Reservoir in the murk yielded four Wigeon but nothing else of note apart from a lot of Tit and Wagtail activity. I checked Parsonage Reservoir - just three drake Tufted Ducks, two Little Grebes and a few Snipe again - but visibility was poor and it was really gloomy so I decided to pay a visit to Hesketh Out Marsh again.

The light was reasonably good but there was nothing close to the observation point - not surprising really as there is no screening of ones approach at all (please get this rectified, RSPB!). At the back of the first pool I noticed an odd Shelduck - a Ruddy x Common I reckon from the image above.
A juvenile Marsh Harrier came over the bank and headed out over Banks Marsh and a juvenile Merlin sat up on a fence post for a while. There were several Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck on the far pool but it was otherwise quiet. Colin Bushell and his wife turned up briefly - he'd just got back from Peru and had been out on Banks Marsh for the Dowitcher - and then Bob Ashworth appeared; looks like we all had the same idea. On the way out I stopped for a mixed flock of birds in the hedge - there were several Goldfinches and Chaffinches but at least one Brambling was a nice surprise.
From there I visited Old Hollows Farm again. It was a lot different from last time though the weather was still rather fine. There were stacks of Wigeon on the pools along with Teal, 800+ Golden Plover, Lapwings, Redshank, a few Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and a few Whooper Swans. Greylag and Pink-footed Geese were out on the marsh and a Peregrine stood watch froma pile of stones. A female/juv Merlin was chasing the smaller birds and what was probably the same Marsh Harrier as earlier put in an appearance. I searched for the Long-billed Dowitcher to no avail though a single Spotted Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and 38 Little Egrets were notable. Certainly more birds here than back home - ah well, you appreciate them all the more!

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