Let sleeping Spoonbills lie.

The distant, motionless Spoonbilly white blob on Polly’s Creek was all very well, but it was hardly pressing the buttons in the enigmatic stakes at Marshside this afternoon, so I walked down to Nels.
The fine Spotted Redshank was at the back of the lagoon still, feeding at one million miles an hour.
The bird caught plenty of small fry at twice the wading rate of the Blackwits that surrounded it.
It moved so fast through the shallow water that it almost left a wake…obviously very hungry.
It was a bit far away for anything other than pants blurry pictures, but you get the idea…

At least 150 Blackwits on the lagoon with a breeding plumage Ruff still and noisy Redshanks.
14 Little Egrets were hissing, barking and croaking like extras from “Jurassic Park”, often only feet from the hide as they waggled their legs in the mud to disturb prey.

Their stubbier, but far more characterful cousin popped up in the sedges at the back of the lagoon, looking summer dapper – has anyone seen more than one Cattle Egret recently?

Sand Martin amongst the House Martins above the pool, and hunting Peregrine and female Sprawk, but apart from the hyperactive SpotShank, it all felt rather sleepy summery…time for cold beers and footy.

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Summer colour

When the dazzling colours of a drake Mandarin are starting to look a bit ragged we’re certainly heading into the quieter weeks of bugs and plants.
Two Mandarins were out on the green waters at Mere Sands this afternoon as Kingfishers hurtled about the edges of the lagoons, and the woods held Treecreepers, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Gtr ‘Pecker, but oddly no Nuthatch as I wandered about (one was calling at Ainsdale Station yesterday and at Dempsey Towers this morning, but hidden by the summer canopy).

Another Mandarin was lurking under the overhanging branches from the Redwing Hide this afternoon, and Common Terns chased off over-curious Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backs.

Yesterday on a guided walk through the dunes at Hightown, two Groppers were still reeling and three flotillas of Shelduck young were out on rising tide on the Alt estuary, although gulls were picking off any that got separated from the safety of the brood.

More peace.

‘Crested the bridge over the Hodder long before the morning mist had started to burn away. A few minutes later the Pied Flycatchers were calling in the blissful dawn green as I turned the ignition off.
There’s something reassuring about a place that doesn’t change, and I hope Moor Piece remains Lancs’ Pied Fly breeding ark for many years to come…and of course that the species can reclaim other sites.
A gorgeous and peaceful reserve, I had it to myself for an hour or two this morning, as Pied Flys, Jays, Greater ‘Peckers, Siskins, Nuthatches and Willow Warblers zipped about the pocket of East Lancs woodland.

The Pied Flys were as obvious and noisy as ever – fantastic wee things, two males were in my face pretty much constantly as I strolled along the road, but I reckon I had at least three different birds around the road junction.

Sometimes you need a few hours as precious as these, but by 0930 the lycra-clad horde started to drone through.
“I’m Bradley Wiggins, I’m Bradley Wiggins, and I’ve got the biggest sideburns in the world…”
etc etc etc
They weren’t doing any harm of course, but the Sunday-pumped lurid skin tights and relentless hum of tyres on tarmac effectively shattered my forest bathing green sanctuary vibe and by 10am I hopped back into the wheels and drifted down to the coast.
“I were right about that saddle though”.

Spangly contest

The Banded Demoiselles and Black Tailed Skimmers zooming about the parched pathways at Lunt were undeniably elegant and sparkly this afternoon, but the Wood Sand feeding on the the lagoon just north of the new “Garganey Screen” without doubt beat them in the spangly stakes.

A bit distant at times, but the sandpiper staved off the summer lull for a short period at least, although this marvellous Lancs Wildlife Trust reserve certainly had that “wilting in the heat ” feel to it today.
Watched the wader scampering about with Tony Conway for 45 mins or so, and then headed home to cool off.
Yesterday three Bottle Nose Dolphins were a bonus, breaching and feeding off Ainsdale for 20 minutes or so just after 8am.
The water was so calm the cetaceans were obvious to the naked eye as soon as I got into the tower at work.

This cleaned up awful record shot with a point and press at full zoom through glass looks little better than it did yesterday, but it reminds me of my third encounter with Bottlers off the Sefton coast in the last five years…
Not as spangly as a Wood Sand, but still good.

Hunter and hunted

Adrenalin rush of the day (not counting the panicky moment when I twigged I’d been speed-gunned by a traffic cop on the way home – fair do’s I was bang to rights) was the Hobby that scorched past the office window at Ainsdale at about 1pm today.
One had rocketed through yesterday, but it was history by the time I’d registered it.
I saw today’s falcon coming though from about 300m away and had a bin-ful as it whizzed past just a few feet distant through the glass, all red troosers and black moustaches.
Gorgeous.
Later in the day Phil Smith dropped by having been watching Hobby bait all afternoon.
Not any old Hobby bait mark you, but three superb Red Veined Darters around one of the larger fenced Natterjack pools south of Shore Road.
Phil explained David Tyler (BHD) had seen Red Veined Darters there yesterday afternoon, so I scooted down to the area in the warm evening sun.
At least two ruby red Red Veined Darters were resting on the sand outside the fenced pool (Slack 169d for those who know the slack numbering system), and Broad Bodied Chasers, Emperor Dragonflies and Black Tailed Skimmers rattling around over the water.
The sun was a bit low to get great pics but I managed one reasonable head on shot of those lovely red eyes.
I can just hear the Hobbies licking their lips now…mmmmm strawberries…
On the walk back to the office I saw another Red Veined Darter perched up in the south west corner of Slack 170.
Thanks for the tip-off Phil, and thanks to David Tyler too!