Locked out.

Nels Hide was still locked up way past 1pm today and with it access barred to one of the few interesting bits of water on the reserve at the moment – it summed up a midday visit to Marshside.
Sigh.
At least the two juve Greenshanks dropped in briefly in front of Sandgrounders Hide to feed with a small group of Blackwits before calling and heading off to the south, presumably back to the lagoon in front of the access verboten Nels.
Under broiling brightening skies, there was little else to get excited about.
Out over the wibbly wobbly heat haze of the Ribble, Lancaster, Typhoon and Spitfire shimmered above Blackpool for the airshow there.

Sprawk, Kestrel and Peregrine were hunting over the saltmarsh.
I called into the Sandplant where a flock of about 40 House Martins and a few Swallows and Sand Martins were basking on the new “berms” or collecting grit/sand, presumably to shore up nest sites on the housing estate.

On the upside, I spent a fine minute or two up close and personal with a Ruddy Darter on the Green Beach north of Ainsdale during a guided walk yesterday.
The beast let me get to within a few centimetres and there wasn’t a locked hide in sight.

And there was me thinking bug-time was over…

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5 thoughts on “Locked out.

  1. Not that I doubt you or anything John, but how do you know this is a Ruddy Darter rather than a Common Darter? I’ve seen lots of the latter and they all looked this colour. What details differentiate then please? As for bug time being over, I had an Emporer Dragonfly last week.

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    • Hi Tony, they can be tricky until you have your eye in.
      Ruddy Darter is usually smaller and more delicate than a Common Darter (but beware of freshly emerged teneral Common Darters) and are usually a richer red.
      That coupled with the bulging “club” end to the body and the pinched waspish waist mark this out as a classic male Ruddy Darter – Common Darter shows a more uniform shape to the abdomen.
      And although it is hard to see because of the position of the wings in the picture, Ruddy Darter lacks yellow stripes on its thorax side, which Common Darter shows.
      Ruddy Darter always shows black legs and has two black marks at the end of the red abdomen (just visible on the pic).
      It has red frons (the bit in front of the eyes, which are also rich red).
      I was lucky to get within a centimetre or two of this insect, but Ruddy usually returns to the same perch, so they are quite easy to approach with suitable fieldcraft.

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  2. Staff at the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve are celebrating this summer after an unusual bird – the cattle egret – nested for the first time at their Burton Mere Wetlands site near Neston. Viewers of BBC Springwatch may have seen the nest featured on the show in May, and now visitors are being encouraged to see one of the birds up-close.
    Locals and visitors to the reserve will be familiar with the hundreds of little egrets living on the estuary, but prior to this year the much rarer cattle egret had managed just two previous breeding attempts in the entire UK, both in south west England.
    Colin Wells, Site Manager at the RSPB Dee Estuary said: “We’ve watched excitedly as little egrets rapidly colonised the Dee Estuary over the past couple of decades, with a total of 84 pairs nesting here this year. Their close relatives, cattle egrets, have been a regular visitor over the past six years since Burton Mere Wetlands opened, usually in the autumn when we have cattle grazing on the reserve.
    “Last year we had a record six cattle egrets at one point, but it was surprising to see at least two stay through the winter, even when the cattle were taken indoors to avoid the harsh weather. The birds felt so at home, we were delighted when they stayed to nest in amongst the established little egret colony.”
    The pair successfully raised one chick, but they quickly left the area after the youngster flew the nest. However, with cattle grazing the reserve again, one cattle egret has returned and there is hope more will follow.
    Colin added: “Visitors have been getting brilliant close views of the cattle egret from the comfort of the Reception Hide. There’s no guarantee how long it will stay, so if you fancy a look at one of these exotic birds close to home, come for a visit soon.”
    For more information on wildlife spectacles, facilities and events at Burton Mere Wetlands, visit rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands

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