Every cloud…

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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.

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5 thoughts on “Every cloud…

  1. It’s National Nest Box Week this February half-term and to celebrate, the team at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands is inviting visitors to join the fun and create their own nest boxes.
    From starting with a nest box kit to adding a personal touch with decoration, families can create a nest box to take away with them and help provide a home for garden birds where they live.
    Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager at the reserve, said: “National Nest Box Week, run by the British Trust for Ornithology, begins on 14 February and is a fantastic initiative to encourage more people to do their bit in helping to provide a home for nature. It’s also great at this time of year as the nest boxes will help to give garden birds a home for the upcoming breeding season”.
    The nest box making sessions will be held on Tuesday 16 and Thursday 18 February, from 10.30 am-3.30 pm at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. The activity costs £8 per nest box (£7 RSPB members). Advanced booking and payment is required as spaces are limited. For more information on the reserve and its activities, please call the reserve on 0151 353 8478 or check out the website http://www.rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands

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  2. A single Chiffchaff calling and showing along the Fine Janes Brook footpath at Kew (KBO) today. 2 Great Whites into the Marine Lake roost at 5.25 and 16 Goldeneye (9 drakes) there last night. Also 5 Crested Crested Grebe at the Marine Lake.

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  3. Chiffchaff along the Fine Janes Brook path at Kew (KBO) today. 2 Great White Egrets went into roost on the Marine Lake at 5.25, at least 22 Littles there also and 5 Great Crested Grebe. Last night 16 Goldeneye (9 drakes) on the north end of the lake.

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  4. I’ve been through the dune slacks a few times in the last few weeks, plenty of water, hopefully we’ll continue to get some rain and not a really dry spring. A few snipe and 4 Heron flushed on one day and a pair of Ravens.

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