Third week of April, North Moss Lane behind Freshfield, there will be Whimbrels. And long may this spring tradition continue.
You can set your watch by the bendy bills, so when Mike Stocker messaged he had more than 50 there on Monday, it was great news, if only to be expected in the context of the spring timetable.
If only all springtime wader targets on the mosslands were as predictable – with Storm Hannah (I thought we’d had one of those already?) lashing the coast, and no decent tide at a civilised time in our area for a seawatch, I spent a few hours checking suitable fields for Dotterel.
The strong winds and downpours have been potentially perfect for grounding this most enigmatic of migrants, but sadly their visits seem to be getting scarcer every spring.
Sure, you can go to Pendle or Great Orme for them (I may well be tempted this year), but there’s nothing like finding your own on the mosses.
Just a shame I haven’t managed it for years!
Anyway, after a fruitless check in the showers and gale-force gusts I swung by North Moss Lane, where 74 Whimbrels (and a Curlew) were in the first bare field on the left, set in their ways and looking good.
The more sensible ones were hunkered down, sheltering from the weather, but a few groups were still feeding away.
The humbug-heads come quite close to the lane, assuming you have the patience to sit awhile and the common sense to stay in the car – get out and they’ll just scarper to the back of this very big field…
Even keeping a low profile, Whimbrels are very wary, and these birds are no exception, walking quickly away whenever they got close enough to see me in the wheels.