A pleasing hour or two on the platform at Hesketh Road today, scanning Marshside and enjoying a light, but steady bit of spring passage in the weakening south easterly with a shady gathering of ne’er-do-wells.
The lure that brought us all down was dodgy long distance year ticking of a Ruddy Shelduck, which was off Nels, but ‘scopable from the platform.
These things, as with all wildfowl, are best viewed from a distance, but as we talked nonsense for an hour or so, some good birds went through – a heavy movement of hirundines and small parties of Swifts were arcing along ahead of the clouds, and a Hobby came steaming up from the south, before gaining height over Marshside and appearing to zoom off towards the Fylde empty-taloned.
Gropper, Whitethroat, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Reed and Sedgies plus Willow Warbler and Chiffy were all singing and overhead Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail called on the way north, as did four trilling Whimbrels.
All very convivial.
A Brimstone butterfly tottered through (I had Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell too) as Swallows gathered mud for nests beneath the platform.
I wanted a better view of the Ruddy Shelduck and headed up to Nels, which was probably not the smartest of ideas – the bird came pretty close, and while I don’t have much experience with Ruddy Shelduck, it’s head looked very white, and it didn’t look quite right – a shame as there are only a handful of records for the marsh.
Could be a young bird I suppose, but even that shouldn’t look this white and what’s with the grey crown markings?
What do other people think (go on, break the habit of a lifetime and leave a comment)?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it often doesn’t do to look at wildfowl too closely.
As I grilled the duck from Nels, Chris Fyles arrived and pointed out a Spoonbill to the north of us which I hadn’t noticed.
It didn’t appear to have an apricot breast-band, although it was a good way away – a new bird or just a trick of the light?
Small parties of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were on the move, the Ruff were looking flashy, Wheatears were bounding about and the marsh felt like it was buzzing.
A Little Gull was feeding at the back of Marshside Two as I walked back to the car, and as I loaded my junk into the boot, a Cuckoo came speeding along low and purposeful, before disappearing behind the sandplant shrubbery.