Smew’s company (so sorry about that)

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Early doors Rouzel thrills gave way to a course this morning on information compliance.
One minute you’re up, the next…
Actually it was an excellent session, and even I now understand that stashing a pen drive in your undercrackers simply does not constitute “safe data storage” in the eyes of the law.
With the grown-up stuff out of the way and a few hours off, I drove down to the always excellent Lunt Meadows for a look at the drake Smew that turned up there yesterday.

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Almost as much fun as watching the Smew “Steamboat Willy-ing” up and down the lagoon, occasionally catching small fish, was bumping into lots of familiar faces – birders were coming from everywhere to hook up with it.
It has been a loooooong time since a drake was get-able in this neck of the woods, so a “Smew twitch” was only to be expected.
Singing Reed Warbler (or was it a Percy Sledge?? I should have paid more attention, I was too busy watching the floating ice cream) in the scrub and reeds behind us, Willow Warbler, Chiffy, and at least 100 hirundines overhead in the very cold, grey sky.
After Lunt, with afternoon rain getting heavier, I rattled over Plex, but in terms of interest, I only managed a single Pink Foot, single Corn Bunt and single Wheatear in that order.

Rouzel etiquette

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I’ve always felt Rouzels to be quite haughty, snooty critters – absolutely marvellous no doubt, but snooty all the same.
You just have to examine the best places to look for them on spring passage (unless you fancy hoicking up a Pennine clough/Welsh valley) – they seem to like private golf courses and places called “The Paddocks”, but Google that address round here and the locations that come up certainly don’t look like they’d welcome shabby birders in the shrubbery at first light.
And that’s another thing – Ring Ouzels tend to show well early morning, and when they do, they glare down their lemony yellow black-tipped noses at you, before flying off strongly.

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I tried for the two Gordon White reported in the sheep enclosure south of Shore Road in the Ainsdale LNR yesterday, but it was mid-morning and there was no sign, so I reset the alarm and shambled down there at dawn today.
Once on the high ground at the east end of the enclosure I quickly picked out one bright male sneaking about the Creeping Willow before it flew up to the top of a pine, while another was lurking in the willow scrub.
Superb to catch up with the snooty foxes again – thanks for the tip off Gordon!

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Watched the birds (both males) for about 25 minutes before they flew into the NNR grazing area and out of view.
Apparently there have been up to five in the area, but I only heard about that tasty bit of belated news yesterday…
If you do go looking for these crackers, please remember sheep are still grazing on site (even if the supersexy Red Poll cattle have left for their summer hols), so close gates behind you and keep dogs on a lead in the sheep enclosures.
The grazing activities of the livestock are what’s making the site so attractive to Rouzels in the first place, so showing them a bit of respect is the least we can do – and the Herdwick Sheeps have such a lovely smile after all.
Plenty of Willow Warblers singing in there this morning, Chiffchaffs, Redpoll, Stonechat, hirundines whizzing north and my second reeling Gropper of the spring….not a bad haul before clocking on.