Monday, 14 January 2013

Rising Water

The first big tides of the year mean it's down to the marshes to see what species get pushed out by the rising water. Usually on a 10 metre tide I would go to Warton Marsh on the Ribble as this is the best site for Water Pipit in the Fylde, plus it can produce plenty of raptors and owls. However the lack of wind yesterday meant that the sightings list from there was disappointing, and with no change in the weather for today I opted instead to head Over Wyre and spend the morning cleaning up on a few yearticks and maybe try find something for myself. I started off at Cocker's Dyke where as hoped a large congregation of gulls was bathing and resting on the sand. In all I estimated 1500 Black Headed Gulls coming and going between there and the nearby pheasant rearing pens where they were stealing grain, along with c150 Common Gulls. I spent around 20 minutes scanning through them but couldn't locate any Med Gulls, partly due to being distracted by a mixed flock of Twite and Linnet feeding close to the seawall, the former my first of the year. I then moved slightly along the coast to Fluke Hall where a quick walk along the saltmarsh near the car park produced 4 Common Snipe being flushed and then me nearly stepping on 3 Jack Snipe in quick succession on the way back to the car, another year first. Heading inland we found the Bradshaw Lane feeding station devoid of seed, but a little further along the Eagland Hill feeding station had a full quota of food with a large mixed flock of Tree Sparrow and Chaffinch coming down the feed. As I was scoping the seed a white wing flashed into view briefly before moving behind a hedge, I didn't have to wait long for the whole bird to appear, a beautiful Barn Owl. It was hunting around the scrubby field by the track with the seed on, before crossing the road and heading off behind the car, where I managed to conceal myself and capture a few shots as it cruised closer on one of it's closest flypast. Another individual was seen hunting in the fields between Lancaster Road and Bradshaw Lane as we drove past.

A quick stop off at Pilling Lane Ends revealed that the tide was already right up the edge of the marsh, with the various creeks filling up nicely, so I decided to head up to Conder instead before the rising water covered the road there. The creek was already starting to spill over onto the surrounding marsh as we pulled up at the lay by by Conder Pool. I quickly located the 2 Spotted Redshanks feeding on insects escaping the rising tide, and a few Snipe were flushed from the marsh, including 1 Jack Snipe which flew low enough overhead for me to grab a couple of record shots. 3 Whooper Swans were in a group of 20 Mute Swans that flew onto the pools from the nearby fields, and 5 Little Grebe fished in amongst them as they came in to rest.

The tide had almost reached the road so I headed up to the top of Bodie Hill which gives a good view down over the lower reaches of the Lune. A group of 7 Bewick's Swans on the river completed my swan trio for the day, they were feeding near a large flock of Wigeon, around 600 or so although a quick search through them couldn't reveal any of their yank cousins. The final stop off was Glasson Basin where the Scaup appears to have moved on, but there were still plenty of ducks present including 12 Goldeneye, a male Pochard and 41 Tufted Duck. The Twite, Jack Snipe, Tree Sparrow and Spotted Redshanks take me up to 108 for the year, all in the Fylde.

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