Sunday, 1 April 2007

31st March - A Trip to Lancashire/Mersyside

Craig picked me up at 0800hrs and we headed South to Lancashire. First stop was the Lancaster Canal just South of Bilsborrow near Myerscough Quarry to look for the adult Ring-billed Gull that has been present on and off for the past week. However there was no sign of the bird anywhere in the surrounding area. Craig was particularly annoyed and frustrated with this as the bird would have been a tick for him, it was the 8,987,452nd Ring-billed Gull that he had dipped in the 41 years he has been birding (he is still hoping to see one on his 28th birthday later this year)! All was not lost as we still had a chance of seeing the Crosby bird later in the day or failing that we would have another look back at this site on our way home!

We re-joined the M6 (I had been a member for 15 years, Craig had been a member for 52 years, but we had both let our memberships lapse) and headed South to Warton Bank. I was navigating so we ended up in Penzance before we realised we had missed our turn! Once we finally got back on track, we found Warton Bank and began looking for the long-staying Glossy Ibis that has been touring Lancashire! At first there was no sign, it was looking like it could be one of those days! After while Craig picked out the bird as it was feeding in a juncus filled ditch. Views were good, though the light was not ideal for photography. Once we had watched the bird for some time we left and made our way to Marshside RSPB Reserve.

On arrival we made our way to the main hide where there had been a very confiding drake Green-winged Teal. As soon as we were in the hide we could see the Green-winged Teal as it actively fed just c5 yards from us. We watched the bird for ages and managed to get some reasonable photographs. Also from the hide amongst the commoner species was a drake Ruddy Duck, female Scaup, a Little Egret and lots of Black-tailed Godwits. As we were on an RSPB reserve we got superb views of Avocets! The first of the summer migrants were in evidence as a trickle of Sand Martins flew over the marsh. The Golden Plover were being harassed by a Peregrine! After an hour or so we decided to look on another area of the reserve for Little Stints which had been reported. From the other hides we saw big numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, good numbers of Avocet and Redshank. Amongst these birds were a few Ruff. After a short-time Craig picked out a Little Stint as it flew in with a single Dunlin.

Craig heard that there were had been a Wheatear seen on another part of the reserve, so desperate for another year tick he ran as fast as he could! I had another look at the Green-winged Teal before looking for the migrants. As I was looking along the bank for passerines a Merlin scooted past me. There was a cracking adult male and 1st summer male Wheatear present in this area. The only down side to this site was the amount of small-minded hoody wearing boy racers that felt it was entertaining to beep there horns as they drove past hoping to scare the birds we were watching. This really annoyed me and after the 175th car load passed us beeping their horn I flagged them down and had an in depth discussion about gull taxonomony with them. They then apologised as they could see the error of their ways, they also promised they would give me a call if the Glaucous-winged Gull turned up at Southport. However they did say that the taxonomy of Glaucous-winged Gull was quite complex and that the bird seen in Gloucestershire and South Wales was at the darker end of the spectrum which could indicate that it had some Western Gull genes! I appreciated their advice but told them after much research that I would only tick it if I saw it!

We decided not to to go to Crosby as we had heard that there were no gulls present, so it be a fruitless visit. We got some lunch and then headed North back to the Lancaster Canal where yet again we failed to see the Ring-billed Gull!

Despite this it had been a pretty successful day all in!