Monday, 5 January 2009

Over Wyre, Lancs - 5th Jan 2009.

I had promised Myself to take my Cousin Kevin's son Lewi out birding over the Christmas period.

But where to go?

I feared that if we birded locally the gravitational pull to Whinney Hill Tip and the Fishmoor roost would prove too strong and I didn't want to subject a 14 year old with an interest in nature to a gruelling and intense few hours 'Gulling' in freezing conditions, so I decided it was best to leave the area completely and head Over Wyre for the afternoon in the hope of some Owls, Geese and a few other winter bits and bobs. This proved a good decision and a very pleasant and rewarding few hours was had showing an interested youngster some of the birds of the area.

Starting off at Glasson Dock, the Marina was largely frozen, with three Little Grebe the highlight. The adjacent Lune Estuary was much better with a nice selection of birds to show Lewi; a stunning drake Red-breasted Merganser, female Goosander, c40 Wigeon, 9 Teal, several Shelduck and an impressive flock of 53 Goldeneye. A substantial but uncounted flock of Bar-tailed Godwit and a smaller number of Knot were roosting fairly distantly upstream. Lewi using the Leica APO 62mm scope (Optics to only dream of when I was his age!) located and identified a very distant Little Grebe upstream, I was most impressed.

Driving along Bank Lane, Cockerham, the first of 4 Little Egret flew over and landed in a field-side ditch, a small number of Golden Plover were present in a field and a Little Owl roosted in a Hawthorn as we neared the final bend towards the Caravan Site at Bank End.

A fair number of wildfowl was present in the channel at Bank End with several hundred Wigeon, c60 Pintail and smaller numbers of Teal, but the low sun made viewing problematic. Suddenly c50 Twite descended onto the trees by the farm, then moved quickly onto the saltmarsh and a male Stonechat and 4 Fieldfare showed well by the road. The second Little Egret of the day landed out of view in a creek.

Above & below: Twite, Bank End, Cockerham, Lancs - 5th Jan 2009.

With only 1.5 hrs light remaining, we drove towards Pilling where a superb Barn Owl gave excellent views as it hunted along roadside ditches adj to the road approaching Lane Ends.

A quick stop at Lane Ends Car Park produced the third Little Egret of the day out on the saltmarsh, and whilst in pursuit of a flock of Pink-feet in the Fluke Hall area, a fourth Little Egret flew over the road towards the saltmarsh. The next ten minutes were then spent explaining to Lewi that Little egrets weren't always this easy to encounter! c100 Pink-feet were located in fields by Fluke Hall car park.

The final area of the day was Bradshaw Lane, Pilling, in the hope of more Owls and maybe some Raptors. The only Owl sighting was a superb Short-eared which sat on a post for 15 mins, regurgitated a pellet, then flew off for 30yrds, plunged to the ground, flew up with another Vole and was almost immediately mugged by a Kestrel, which prompted the SEO to gain considerable height before heading off towards Scronkey, still with prey. c30 Tree Sparrow were by the feeding station and c700 Pink-feet could be seen flighting to roost from fields well inland towards the sands off Pilling.

Surprisingly, no more Barn or Little Owls were seen, but a Peregrine flew over at dusk.

The Eagland Hill area is a very atmospheric place on a still, cold, winters evening and tonight was no exception. It was one of those evenings when you didn't want it to go dark.

Above & below: Short-eared Owl, Bradshaw Lane, Pilling, Lancs - 5th Jan 2009.

Back to the Gulls tomorrow......