Didn’t feel too Spring like at 6am on the Golf Course this morning and the light was really dull, but a few nice birds knocking about. The adult Med with the bad leg was on Southport Golf Links this morning – here’s an image of it from yesterday on Hesketh Golf Course.
Several Redpoll through including a nice male feeding in the Willows – couldn’t get a decent image of it, but here’s one just for the record.
A single Siskin, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Blackcap, multiple Chiffs, 2 Fieldfare and a Jay the best of the rest. I didn’t see or hear yesterday’s Nuthatch, but was really pleased with that full patch tick
A single Swallow heading East over Rimmers was my first hirundine of the year (and I still hadn’t seen Sand Martin by the end of the day). Plenty of Ruff, Godwit and Redshank feeding plus a hundred or so Golden Plover, and 4 Snipe. The Sand Plant was quiet, but a nice Merlin was resting up.
On to Hesketh Out Marsh, and the throngs of winter duck have pretty much departed – just a handful of Teal and Wigeon left. These have been replaced by Avocets with around 75 present today including this colour-ringed bird that looks like it’s from a UK scheme (sighting submitted). UPDATE – This bird was ringed as pullus at Seal Sands, Cleveland on 24th May 2015. It’s been at Hesketh twice before in 2016 and 2017 and also near Barrow-in-Furness in late July 2015.
A female Hen Harrier gave a circuit of the reserve, a Marsh Harrier did the same, but with a Shelduck entourage and 2 Grey Partridge flushed from one of the hedge bottoms – great to see them, not had one here for a while. 3 Spotted Reds still about, one of which is getting quite dark.
Banks for the geese and there were masses out there – another clear influx. Looks like we’ve got most of the Pinks left in the country – around 20,000. Most of them were too far to go through properly, but trying my best, I was over the moon to find the Grey-bellied Brant among the hordes. Too far to photograph, but I watched it for half an hour and it hasn’t changed its character – still charging the Pinks on a regular basis. It looks almost black and white in the shimmering heat haze, but the brown tones show through, especially when breast on and rearing up. It’s a great looking bird – I hope it sticks for a bit and comes nearer as I’d love a chance to study and photo it again at closer range.
See what I mean about the distance! Here’s one from last year
Another bird that if you get the chance to see, it’s well worth the effort. Still probably the favourite bird I’ve found – I know the species is shrouded in mystery and controversy, but this bird ticks all the boxes – Seb Reeber liked it when I sent him pictures, as did one of the writers of a paper on Grey-bellied Brant who’s studied them on their breeding grounds.
More info on last year’s sighting here 2018 Brant images
Sticking with controversial geese, the North American Canada was also out there looking every bit as distinctive and wild as it always has.
Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t get close to the vast majority of the birds and could only dream about what’s in them – really hope I get one chance for a look through at a reasonable distance. The only other geese of note that I could find were the resident 4 Barnacles on Crossens Outer. 3 Great White Egrets out there too and a couple of Peregrines rounded off the magnificent 7 raptor species. No Osprey today, but the one of a few days ago hovering over Rimmers was an absolute joy.
A super 7 hours on the Ribble – this late goose gathering, concentrating the birds onto the southern part of the estuary seems to be becoming a regular thing and it’s great……