Marsh and meadows

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The tide was never going to be startling today down at Marshside, but it had been awhile since I spent any amount of time on the old patch, so I gave it a bash anyway in warm, calm and bright conditions today.
What’s left of the Sandplant was stuffed to the gunnels with Mipits with plenty of Skylarks overhead, and Linnets and Reed Buntings were stripping down seedheads.

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Two or three Rock Pipits calling in the blue above, but as is usually the way, they didn’t give themselves up on the deck.
Crossens Inner and Outer were quite busy, with plenty of Lapwings, Golden Plover, Blackwits, smaller groups of Pinkies, alba wags and mipits.
Good roost of Redshank too.
The fenceposts were in demand, with Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine all perched up while two Marsh Harriers were quartering further out.

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This dodgy digi-scopage seems to show a young bird, the other appeared to be a crisper female.
Great White Egret flyby amongst the ever-increasing numbers of Little Egrets, and it was so balmy, Silver Y moth was still trying to feed on the withering flowerheads of crucifers.
I had business further south in the borough so decided to call into Lunt Meadows for a bit of quality owl time in the late afternoon, with two Barn Owls and one Short Eared Owl on show.
Brilliant to watch these things hunt in the golden light of the setting sun, but predictably the Short Eared Owl only came close enough for me to attempt “point and press” rubbish as the light began to fade to cold blurry grey…

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Large numbers of Pinkies rising from the fields to the north behind Formby as the sun sank.

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Reality bites

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Bright enough and still in need of shrivelly leaved action today (there’s more to come from this autumn I hope, regardless of eye-wateringly expensive buntings on Papa Smurf Island), so I nipped over to Mere Sands this morning, forgetting how popular the site is on a Sunday – many dog walkers, perambulators, and even a selection of yoof shouting down mobile phones, as you do.
And who can blame them? It’s a fine spot at this time of year.

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Followed two feeding flocks through the branches for an hour or so, with good views of Treecreeper, Nuthatches, Goldcrests, Greater ‘Peckers and Coal Tits among the more usual bird table fare (the feeders behind the centre are still nice and Bullfinchy, with Brown Rat showing particularly well …bicycle clips on).
Phylloscs were glaring by their absence.
About 800 Pinkies feeding very close to the road on Churchtown Moss on the way back.
A few pulses of passage going on along the dunes during the week, with parties of Skylarks, Mipits and Starlings passing the office at Ainsdale, Reed Bunting numbers steadily increasing in the buckthorn and still the odd Wheatear dropping in.

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From Wilson’s to Wigeon

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If Er Neill was having problems dealing with the come-down from the yellow and green glory that was the Port Nis Wilson’s Warbler, he wasn’t showing it this morning when we took a stroll in the Lancastrian grey at Hesketh Out Marsh.
The chances of encountering anything as colourful here are decidedly slim, but the birding wasn’t bad considering the tide hadn’t bothered to rise yet.
Little Egrets, Grey Plover and Greenshank amongst the Redshanks and Curlew, while a young Marsh Harrier patrolled the old seawall.

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We walked down the bank to look out onto the outer marsh,and although everything was distant, it was pretty good – two Great White Egrets, two Common Buzzard, a Short Eared Owl and no fewer than four Marsh Harriers.
Can’t remember seeing 4-5 Marsh Harriers at the same time on the Ribble before.
Celebrated with an award-winning (surely) digishot of one of the Great White Egrets.

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It was quite a long way away Your Honour.
Perhaps 1,000 Pinkies grazing between HoM and Old Hollows, with a few Skylarks and Mipits passing overhead.
Peregrine cruising over Southport town centre as we headed home.

‘Scoping calmer seas…

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Gave the falling tide a quick seawatch today from Ainsdale over lunchtime, mainly because it was so pleasant – barely a breath of wind from the north, blue skies etc.
Not much unexpected but the scoter horde was back to being impressive, with a “scoter scarf” strung along the coast as far as I could see to the north and south.
Hard to put a figure on them from a static position – at least 1,000 were visible from where I was sitting.

Ainsdale 1230-1330:

Common Scoter 1,000
Razorbill 19
Great Crested Grebe 13
Red Throated Diver 4
Scaup 1 male

Fly-by drake Scaup and growing numbers of Great Crests gave things a wintry feel, even though Skylarks and Goldfinches were still moving autumnal over the dunes.

Birds and blubberfest

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Waiting for the winds to bring the wonder… and it’s shaping up nicely on the Shetlands. Up here with Neill “that garden looks mega” Hunt, Paul “Fladderbister” Thomason and Duncan “what do you mean there’s no time for lunch” Rothwell.
Blog forming here, if anyone is interested: http://www.birdblogshetland.wordpress.com

And the sun at my back…

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Don’t know much, but I do know that given where I’m going next, it’s gonna be quite awhile till I feel warmth on my back like that of today’s again.
Superb in the frontal dunes at Ainsdale, plenty of Grass of Parnassus, Common Centaury, Harebells and Evening Primrose still flowering (sorry Neill), with Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter on the wing at Sands Lake – as you’d expect on a day as warm as this.
At least 8 Reed Bunts moving into the area for winter (or are they just passing through?), Goldcrest, Robins trying (and failing) to deal with their anger management issues, and overhead Siskin, Mipit and Skylark moving.
Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chiffchaff in the scrub.
Two Greater ‘Peckers bounded south over the frontal dunes.
In the current weather conditions I’d like to have had a better view so I could have checked ’em for Northerns.
Cudda, wudda, shudda…