Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Garden Birdwatch plus

Saturday 28 January 
In the morning , Cuerden Wildlife Explorers/Watch club held their annual Big Garden Birdwatch. It was a very cold day, but dry and clear. We were counting blue, great and coal tits on the bird feeders when a Great Spotted Woodpecker made its alarm call right above us in a horse chestnut tree. A nuthatch made a hasty exit from the same tree and flew far away. We walked towards the Sue Ryder home and had our regular guard of honour of collared doves. One of the young people then asked me about a bird they could see. It took me a while to find it but was able to identify not one but two mistle thrushes. Cinder path is usually good for goldcrests, but not this year. As we arrived in the pinewood next to the nature reserve a couple of jays made a loud screech. Sam, our new junior leader found a fungus he had not seen before. It was Jelly Ear fungus but did not quite feel like jelly because it was covered in ice. Much of the lake was frozen, which meant the birds were in one area. Black-headed gulls, mallards, two coots and one moorhen were joined by the regular Great Crested Grebes.

 We stretched our legs a bit more to go through Dog Kennel Wood, but here too was a little quieter than expected. The roe deer were in their usual place near the wooden bridge with a grey heron standing as lookout for them. The time as usual went too quickly so we returned to the visitor centre to check our results and report them to the RSPB.

Some of the group then carried on birding further west. We shared a picnic at Mere Sands Wood LWT reserve, particularly enjoying the water rail coming to the feeder set among the reeds. Proceeding to the coast we parked in the car park at Marshside RSPB reserve. Scanning the shoreline we were able to see thousands of birds. Fortunately for us some did come a little closer. A solitary peregrine was sitting on a fence post giving us some great views. Feeding amongst the grass were hundreds of pinkfooted geese with shelducks, lots of gulls and skylarks singing above us. It was still very cold so we decided to go to one of the hides to warm up. The view from the hide was brilliant. We saw wigeon, teal, shoveler, mallard and too many lapwings to count.

 Black-tailed godwits were feeding busily close to us and a Great Black-backed Gull kept disturbing all the flocks in the nearby field. I then saw another winter visitor from the north. This time it was human. Richard Else, who used to be on Bardsey called in with his parents. He now works on North Ronaldsay and was taking his winter break from that observatory. It was good to renew acquaintance. As usual by mid afternoon, hunger pains take the place of enthusiasm, so we set off home for a hot drink and some chips. Sadly that means two days birding without anything new. My total remains at 153

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