Brockholes, near Preston 20.6.17

Sunny and very warm day

As the June heatwave continued, an enthusiastic group assembled at the Visitor Village hoping the sunshine would bring out the birds and minimise the expenditure of energy by group members.  It was wisely decided to target the hides on Number One Pit throughout the morning and reserve a relatively short walk along the River Ribble for the afternoon.

Setting off through the reedbed along the northern edge of Meadow Lake, the group were enticed by the song of warblers which remained frustratingly hidden from view. However more expansive views across the lake revealed moorhen, lapwing, black-headed gulls, coots, a grey heron and a single oystercatcher accompanied by its single fast maturing chick.  Reaching The Lookout hide, views across Number One Pit revealed a wider range of birds – a reed bunting and (immature?) grey wagtails on the near shoreline; coot, mute swans, mallard, oystercatchers, a little grebe and a great crested grebe on the water; a redshank and a single starling along the far shoreline; and sand martins swooping over the water (although no sign of their usage of the sand martin wall).

A walk down to the next hide yielded more sightings of a pied wagtail, redshank, common sandpipers, oystercatchers, starlings and the great crested grebe on and close to the central island. To everyone’s delight, a nearer small shingle/rocky island hosted a rare sighting of a close congregation of oystercatcher, common sandpiper, redshank and ringed plover allowing informative comparisons of shape, size and colouring.  Onward down and around the southern tip of the lake revealed little of note – the scratchy song of a hidden whitethroat; a perfect view of a highly illuminated hovering kestrel; (for some) a small weasel scurrying across the footpath; and a fine view of a difficult to identify member of the finch family, possibly a female or immature linnet.

After a hearty picnic lunch in the increasingly warm sunshine, the group sauntered eastward from the Visitor Village to the bank of the River Ribble and headed northwards towards the weir.  The shallow slow-moving river was home to a scattering of black-headed gulls, mallard, a single oystercatcher, carrion crows, a single lesser black-backed gull, and a single grey heron which, for reasons best known only to them, was being vigorously worried by the gulls. And then, a flash sighting of a kingfisher by one member of the group which led to a thorough visual search of the far bank, and, hey presto, the male kingfisher appeared to all, dived majestically to nab a small fish, perched on an exposed branch to show off its electric plumage, and then raced along the river to show off its turn of speed.  The final stretch up to the weir allowed good views of sand martin burrows in the eroded banks and sand martins obligingly swooped overhead, but unfortunately no goosanders! With a final view of a distant kestrel and a goldfinch feeding assiduously off a lone thistle on the far bank, the group returned to the car park.

Comparing notes post event, chiffchaff, whitethroat, long-tailed tit, and a common tern were also sighted by keen-eyed members of the group, as were an impressive list of butterflies (meadow brown, ringlet, common blue, speckled wood, red admiral, large skipper) and a day flying moth (narrow-bordered five-spot burnet) and numerous dragonflies and blue and red damsel flies – clearly a very productive and enjoyable day! (SC with help from DC and MH)

Bird list (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mallard
  4. Great crested grebe
  5. Little grebe
  6. Grey heron
  7. Common buzzard
  8. Kestrel
  9. Moorhen
  10. Coot
  11. Oystercatcher
  12. Ringed plover
  13. Lapwing
  14. Common sandpiper
  15. Redshank
  16. Black-headed gull
  17. Herring gull
  18. Lesser black-backed gull
  19. Common tern
  20. Woodpigeon
  21. Swift
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Sand martin
  24. Pied wagtail
  25. Blackbird
  26. Sedge warbler
  27. Chiffchaff
  28. Whitethroat
  29. Long-tailed tit
  30. Great tit
  31. Starling
  32. Magpie
  33. Jackdaw
  34. Carrion crow
  35. Goldfinch
  36. Reed bunting

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