Set in their ways

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.

3 thoughts on “Set in their ways

  1. Over 40 million birds have vanished from UK skies in just 50 years, 56% of species in the UK are in decline, and one in ten of our wildlife are critically endangered. Nature is in crisis, and new research from the RSPB has demonstrated that the UK is dangerously unaware of the impending danger.
    Only 16% of people in the North West realise nature is in crisis, and worryingly a third (34%) believe nature is in fact doing well. The UK is in immediate danger of sleepwalking into a disaster, as our natural world and wildlife face a mounting and immediate crisis.
    To wake up the nation to this threat, the RSPB is releasing a track of pure bird song into the charts for the first time in UK music history.
    ‘Let Nature Sing’ is an arrangement of some of the UK’s most loved and most threatened bird songs. It has been created to raise awareness of what the UK might lose if nothing is done to stop the crisis facing nature, which is pushing many UK birds towards extinction. The message is simple: If we do not act now, and work together, the magical sound of bird song could be lost forever.
    The RSPB’s research illustrates how devastating this loss would be to the people in the North West. When presented with the shocking facts about the decline of wild birds’, nearly half (45%) of adults in the North West said they were upset by this, and almost a third (30%) went further to say they were angry. The majority put pressure on political powers for change, with more than eight in ten in the North West (81%) feeling the Government should be doing more to save nature.
    Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation said: “The signs are all around us that something is not right, that nature is falling silent and you only need to stop and listen to find the beautiful bird song that should be the background music to our life is absent. But no one is talking about the crisis facing wildlife and nature in the UK. We all need to start talking about this, and the Let Nature Sing track is a good starting point as it perfectly highlights the music we risk losing”.
    Sam Lee, who helped edit the single, said: “Birdsong has been one of the biggest influences of our song, poetry and literature. The loss of it should concern us all, because it is a signal that all is not well in the world. We should see birdsong as a barometer for the health of this planet, and hence of ourselves”.
    The track was released on Friday 26 April, in time to get bird song into the charts for International Dawn Chorus Day on the 5 May.
    Let Nature Sing is available as a digital download or as a CD. To find out more about the vital work the RSPB is doing to save nature, and to purchase the track, please visit


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