Enjoying the November sunshine

The national BBC weather forecast had this weekend as wet and miserable. It may be in the south east but whatever they say, we seem to get the opposite so after a fine starry night it was no surprise to have to clear ice from the windscreeen before my morning visit to Rishton Reservoir.

The air was cold and crisp with not a breath of wind. As I arrived at the entrance to Cut Wood I was once again delighted to hear a Nuthatch calling. I soon got onto this male along with a Treecreeper and several Tits and Finches. These now regular sightings mean it's looking good for this species to finally colonise the place. Down by the reservoir there wasn't much happening other than whistling Mallards getting frisky and a sole juvenile Great Crested Grebe. The water level is at full height now and hopefully we should get some winter duck coming in.

The mist closed in around the water so it was time to head home for breakfast and then set out to the coast for some birding. The obvious draw was Cockersands where an American Golden Plover had been the last couple of days. We arrived as the tide was receding and enjoyed good birds and good company for an hour or so. there were lots of duck and waders around - whistling Wigeon this time and 'aooohhh'ing Eiders. Graham Clarkson and I reminisced about the times gone by and how the birds have changed. Thirty years ago, the fields behind us would have had Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers and the nearest Eiders were the few at Walney.
Anyway, Bernie and I enjoyed the view, the sunshine and the birds - As well as the Wigeon and Eide, there were Pintail, Teal, Shoveler and Great Crested Grebe as well as hundreds of Lapwings, Golden Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin and Turnstones. A few Skylarks and Linnets made their presence known and the sight of a female Merlin bombing low across the mud is always a pleasure.
We eventually headed towards Conder Green passing great flocks of Curlews in the fields. Whilst watching the Redshanks, I'd commented to Bernie on how it was one of the easiest waders to ID with its broad white trailing edge to its wing. The retort was simple - "It's got red legs! Simple!" That was me put firmly in my place but you could get it confused with Spotted Redshank - "They've over-wintered near here the past few years. And so without further ado, we found ourselves watching two Spotted Redshanks at Conder Green!
Spotted Redshank
After a very pleasant lunch at Cafe d'Lune, we headed for Pilling Lane Ends and even though the tide was out, there were birds to be seen though distant - a few thousand Pink-footed Geese with four Barnacles amongst them, a herd of Whooper Swans and an adult Peregrine sat on the marsh.

We made our way south to Warton Bank to see if we could get the Great White Egret. On arrival we scanned the Marsh - Mute, Whooper and Black (!) Swans, a couple of Little Egrets but not the big one though Bernie had noted a large white bird on the marsh as we drove down the lane. We had an immature Peregrine and another Merlin on the marsh as we and another couple searched in vain. The others sloped off but one last stop and scan revealed a long white neck. Quickly, I got the scope out again and there it was, right on the edge of the saltmarsh. There must be at least three along the Lancashire coast at present. I can remember the first for Lancs - a distant white blob on Banks Marsh several years ago. Another amazing change in the avifauna; "Who'd have believed it?".

Finally I called in at Brockholes to drop off some more Bird Reports - they seem to be selling well there. If you haven't got your copy yet. there on sale at Brockholes, In-focus at Martin Mere, Marshside and Leighton Moss!


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