Couldn’t work out what was spooking all the Pink Feet over the lunchtime high tide at Marshside today, until this damp Short-Eared Owl broke cover at the water’s edge seaward of Nels hide.
The owl disappeared into the vegetation remarkably effectively as it waded about looking for prey – always odd to see them hunting on the deck like this, but they seem to do it an awful lot at the marsh, so presumably it fulfills the daily vole quota.
They always look so annoyed when they’re creeping about though… Then again, they look annoyed most of the time.
Shaky video of the soggy owl on YouTube here.
The bright sun was welcome after the murky grey of my daily dawn survey (back in the Dowhigh saddle after a fortnight’s leave).
On the upside the more boldly barred of the Russian White-fronted Geese was grazing right under Marine Drive with Pinks, just below the RSPB car park, and I got great views in the 7am gloom until a passing helicopter flushed them all and they flapped off, the Whitefront dropping down about halfway along the haul road.
You can just about hear the Whitefront calling if you can stick it out to the end of my terrible first clippette. Sorry.
This bird is more heavily barred on the right side (naturally I only got a picture of its left flank this morning(!)). Quite a distinctive individual, I first saw it on March 8th.
A Merlin clung on for dear life on a perch out on the haul road as commuting Pink Feet waddled past in the force 5 westerly – I couldn’t resist more pants video as it was buffeted about….on YouTube here.
I was back on site over lunchtime, although the Dowhigh team on Marine Drive had already stopped work before the tide flooded the marsh south of the Sandplant, so as to reduce potential disturbance.
One of the Great White Egrets was just under the car park (I will spare you more bad pics of big white things), and approximately 300 Pinks were grazing under the road, unfazed by joggers, cyclists and dog walkers.
Lovely light after the morning gloom, but thin on migrants, so the Short Eared Owl was a bonus as it hopped over deeper channels and melted into clumps of vegetation, hunched up and fairly sinister-looking it must be said.
The owl occasionally put the geese up when it got too close, although Redshanks, Lapwings, Mipits and Skylarks seemed to ignore it.
Cetti’s Warbler singing away on the SSSI ditch this morning (the Water Rail was showing there again yesterday), and another Cetti’s was tuning up on the corner of Hesketh Road and Fleetwood Road.
Fumbled a hirundine as I drove along Shore Road at Ainsdale later on – a martin certainly, but it was gone before I locked on….there will be more.