Marshside RSPB 18.09.18

Very windy, but warm and with long sunny periods

A dozen of the Team arrived at the RSPB car park around 10.30am to be buffeted by the strong, south-westerly winds, and it wasn’t long before we sought the shelter of the nearby Visitor Centre over-looking the lagoons and marshes of this extensive site. We spent the next couple of hours or so, in the company of the friendly volunteers, happily searching out the different species that were sheltering on the pools and amongst the reeds. Although there were good numbers of birds, Canada Geese, Black-tailed Godwits, Starlings and even Curlew, they were mostly to be found on the far side of the site and getting good views was not always easy. However, such challenges simply spurred us on to further efforts and we derived much pleasure, for example, from identifying Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese which were mixed in with the much greater numbers of Canada Geese. Nearer at hand, a few Mallard and Gadwall pottered about, a lonely Little Grebe was to be seen dipping and diving in its restless manner, a young Moorhen swam busily around in the pool immediately in front of us, a Snipe took to the skies, startled by the Warden and a volunteer doing some work on the small island in front of the hide, and a female Kestrel kept patrolling backwards and forwards, providing spectacular close-up views of itself in the bright sunlight, and even coming to rest on the ground for a short time.

Having learnt that Nel’s Hide was temporarily closed while young swallows fledged and some repairs were carried out, we decided to remain in the VC for lunch and then to break new ground (so to speak) by heading for Hesketh Out Marsh, just a couple or soIMG_3798 miles away. And thus, in a rather strung out convoy of cars, which managed to become in part detached, with some encountering a rather unhappy farmer who was obviously a bit fed up with birders and others using his track, we eventually made it to Karen’s viewpoint. High on the new sea wall this view point surveys a protective belt of salt marsh that has been created over the last few years as flood defence. Although we had almost to hang on to each other in the gusting wind coming in from the south, and it was difficult to hold one’s binoculars steady, we had great views of a large number of  Redshank, their bright red legs picked out in the strong sunlight. Present also were Mute Swans, a Curlew, a solitary Black-headed Gull and a number of Little Egrets, which seemed particularly active flying back and forth. A few smaller birds flitted over our heads, possibly Meadow Pipets, some Greenfinches rose up from the fields of broccoli behind us and a Swallow too was spotted, no doubt having a good feed on the insects that the warm sun had brought out.

Renewed scanning of the salt marsh for the moment revealed little else –  although there was talk of a Great White Egret that had been spotted by the first group to arrive  – until suddenly a couple of Grey Herons, previously hidden, rose from one of the channels that criss-cross the salt marsh. The reason for this sudden appearance soon became apparent as a Marsh Harrier came into view, sweeping low over the channels, and it eventually disturbed large numbers of Lapwings that had been resting, just out of sight from the viewpoint. This exciting spectacle then was capped by the re-appearance of the Great White Egret (yellow bill and black legs clearly in evidence!),  which obligingly came to settle in the pool nearest to the viewpoint and provided a a final highlight to our visit to this new, if somewhat exposed, location; one to which we will certainly return.

Bird List (HW, M.Ho)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Pink-footed goose
  5. Mallard
  6. Gadwall
  7. Teal
  8. Little grebe
  9. Cormorant
  10. Great white egret

    A marooned buoy(?) at Hesketh Out Marsh
  11. Little egret
  12. Grey heron
  13. Marsh harrier
  14. Sparrowhawk
  15. Kestrel
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Lapwing
  19. Redshank
  20. Black-tailed godwit
  21. Curlew
  22. Common snipe
  23. Black-headed gull
  24. Herring gull
  25. Great black-backed gull
  26. Woodpigeon
  27. Swallow
  28. Meadow pipit
  29. Pied wagtail
  30. Starling
  31. Magpie
  32. Carrion crow
  33. Greenfinch
  34. Goldfinch



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