Every cloud…

DSCN2260

Yet another afternoon of night today with a mizzling seafront developing into torrential rain with depressing predictability.
Nowt to do but shelter in Sandgrounders Hide at Marshside, as the black backs lumbered past trying to flush out weak wildfowl without success.
A Merlin hunting the outer marsh also zoomed off without a catch.
After an hour or so I nipped down to Hesketh Road in near dark (headlights on full), but there was no sign of the calling Chiffchaff seen there earlier in the day.
This was hardly surprising in the awful conditions.
At least one of the young male Scaup was awake and diving about, but blurry “record shots” were the best I could manage in the heavy rain and low light… I wonder just how water resistant a P900 really is?

DSCN2342

The male Pochard flew in to join the Scaup and they tootled around together for a few minutes before melting into the reeds.
If there is an upside to the continuing deluge, it’s that water levels have zoomed back up in the slacks since October, so fingers crossed, this might be a reasonable year for Natterjack Toads in the dunes after the pants season caused by 2015’s drought conditions (try remembering that as your sodden wellies and waterproofs steam next to the fire baby).

nattblog

Phil Smith has been measuring the water levels in the Devil’s Hole (no tittering at the back there) down at Ravenmeols this winter, and has produced this ace graph, which he kindly allowed me to post.

image[1]

Phil’s graph shows how low the water levels were last October (almost 50 cms below the normal water table) – and how much they have risen since then.
This was compiled a week or so ago, so I guess the water level will be higher still now.
Could mean a bumper spring for the “Birkdale Nightingales” or “Bootle Organs” depending on your geographical loyalties… although conditions can change of course before the Natterjacks start emerging in March.
Thanks as ever Phil.