“Big coat” time looming…

A rawgreymurky November day to be sure, but not quite nippy enough to break out your big coat yet I think (although I confess mine was stashed in the boot just in case).
Banished from the house while Mrs D practised for her next concert with the Southport Orchestra tomorrow, I decided to spend my exile up on the marsh.
A GBB was polishing off its Teal elevenses in front of Sandgrounders Hide, so the place was unsurprisingly pretty quiet – watching the brute rip the duck to pieces was enough to put a chap off his tiffin.

A Marsh Harrier cut north above Crossens Channel, still swollen from the morning’s high tide, as the Fylde melted in the murk, and a Raven was just ‘scopable in the gloom.
A check around the cow-poached mud between the pull-in and the concrete trough up at Crossens revealed about 10 Meadow Pipits, Pied Wag, Grey Wag and one, possibly two, Water Pipits.

The tail-pumping pipits were as awkward as they always are, keeping distant and flighty, but at least one revealed a key Water Pipit ID feature; namely it smiled and watched as I released one tripod leg, then a second and a third, waited while I loosened the tripod head lock and panned my ‘scope onto it…then flew as soon as I focussed in.
Sigh.
I spent 45 minutes or so checking through the pipits but there was no further sign – presumably away down Crossens Channel out of sight, so I drove up to HOM, to test the “no big coat necessary” thesis to the limits at one of the coldest places on the planet.
Stacks of Tree Sparrows and up to 100 Whoopers were minesweeping the fields, with Yellowhammer, Chaffinches, Song Thrush lurking in the hedgerow with the sparrows.
I love a good hedgerow and it delayed the stroll up to East HOM to see the redhead Smew, which was present, but distant, diving amongst the Wigeon throng, while a Greenshank yelped somewhere out on the vast expanse.

Not the closest views I’ve ever had of one, but no Smew is to be sniffed at.
*If braving the November chill ain’t your cup of tea, I’m delivering a “death by Powerpoint” talk at the North West Birdfair on Sunday at 10am on “The Flora and Fauna of the Sefton Coast”.
If you’re at the event, please come along, I could do with the company….

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