Next time I start trying to look wise and begin nodding sagely when someone says: “Well, we haven’t really had a winter yet this year”, I’ll remind myself about this afternoon.
It was the day winter came to say hello.
A brutally biting north westerly showed no mercy on the fields at Hundred End and Banks, when I called in to look at the swan flock – it was my own fault, next time I’ll wear gloves, thermals mebbe a hat or a coat, possibly even billies.
Luckily the swans were fairly close to the road today and while I didn’t get a clear view of the whole flock, at least I could shelter in the lee of the wheels.
Counted 176 swans, mainly Whoopers of course, but at least 20 Bewick’s, probably more.
Always strange to think that 40 years back the Bewick’s were the commoner swans on Crossens Inner and Marshside Two, and then, I longed to see a Whooper!
Common Buzzard flapped through while I scoped the swans and a few finch flocks, but it wasn’t long before I wimped out and headed inland with the car heater on full.
Stopped off to say “Happy New Year” to an old friend at a well-known Little Owl stake-out before turning back to the coast and Southport Marine Lake.
Pretty nippy at the Marine Lake too, but only 5 Goldeneye at the top end including the two adult drakes.
The Twite flock was on the west side commuting between the seaward parking strip and the foreshore.
A count of 11 Little Grebe was the best I can remember managing here – the birds were in two flotillas.
No sign of last weekend’s drake Scaup though.
A very quick scan over Crossens Outer was tough too, but at least Peregrine and Pinkies stuck their heads up against the snow-dusted Pennines as the afternoon light faded.
On my WeBs counts on Southport Marine Lake, high counts for Little Grebe include 9 in January 2007 and 7 in December 2014.
Two, almost certainly three Great White Egrets on Marshside/Crossens saltmarshes early this afternoon…has anyone actually seen more than two together on the Ribble?
Also there 2 Merlins, an imm male Marsh Harrier.
Wintering female Stonechat again by the second culvert on Crossens Embankment
I can’t recall three together being reported on marsh before Baz.
Interesting drive across the Moss from Ormskirk to Southport this morning. 50+ Golden Plover near Turfland on the way out, C200 Whoopers adjacent to Southport Rd in Scarisbrick on the return. They’ve been pretty regular here, probably because the farmer spreads swedes and turnips for his cattle.
Formby Point seawatch, 1035-1315
(Along a 2-km stretch on both sides of the NT carpark)
Common Scoter c.60…a very low count for late winter
Red-breasted Merganser 11
Red-throated Diver 41
Great Crested Grebe 28
No sign of any seabird movements yet
Female Stonechat and flock c. 20 Meadow Pipits on old Tobacco Dump…early migrants?
Bit further away than normal, but just back from a holiday in Cuba on Cayo Coco. Spent 2 mornings with local bird guide Paulino Delgado. Some highlights included
West Indian Whistling Duck
Great Lizzard Cuckoo
Cuban Pygmy Owl
A really good birding destination, and the mainland is only an hour or so drive, which is essential if you want to see Cuban Trogon, Meadow Lark and Pygmy Owl.
Small world Stephen – Mrs D and I are off to Cuba soon!
Huge numbers of waders and wildfowl on Rimmer’s Marsh at Marshside on the WeBS early this afternoon, incl. 6220 Wigeon, 3210 Teal, 195 Shoveler, 774 Pintail, 772 Golden Plovers, 2644 Lapwings, 2987 Black-tailed Godwits. No rarities, although I was too busy counting to study any group of birds carefully. No raptors or passerines of note.