Saturday, 19 December 2009

Frozen Disaster

It was going to be one of those mornings - I could tell! Alarm call at 07:30 and the plan was to be out birding by 08:00, even though it was minus 6 c on the old thermometer. I was delayed at first by the length of time it took me to prepare the garden for the days avian visitors. De-frosting the bird bath, topping up the sunflower seed feeder, seed on the ground feeder along with some dried meal worms and 'bird' cake. Then it was onto the car which needed a thorough defrosting as well. It was now nearer 08:30, anyway not to worry I was in the car and ready to be off. Car in reverse and it wouldn't move; the bl**dy handbrake was frozen on! More delays in freeing the handbrake and by 09:00 I was on my way.

Where to was the question. There was no morning tide so I thought I would call in first at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park and then perhaps on to 'burglars' alley and the saltmarsh on the Wyre estuary. As I pulled into the car park at the nature park there were at least ten cars parked and each one belonging to a dog walker who had anywhere between one and three dogs each! I cursed the fact that I even try and go birding at this disgrace of a nature park that is nothing more than a dog toilet. Lancashire County Council should be disgusted at themselves for owning and allowing a site to become like this.

The cold must have got to my brain because the fact that it had been freezing for several days didn't register with me and therefore incredulously I was surprised when the pools were frozen. Idiot I thought, I should have known that they would be frozen. On the main pool the birds had managed to keep a small area of water unfrozen and crammed into this small space were 23 Coots and a single female Tufted Duck.

The 'shallow' pool was completely frozen and ten Coots and two Mute Swans sat looking miserable on the ice. I had two Reed Buntings in the reeds below the car park and 2,500 Pink-footed Geese were in the air over towards the over wyre mosslands. I was completely fed up now and decided to drop Ian's Christmas card off and have a quick look on the marine lakes and head home.

The marine lakes of course weren't frozen as they contain salt water. On the main lake were 17 Red-breasted Mergansers and a pair of Tufted Ducks. On the smaller pool were three Red-breasted Mergansers, two Goldeneye and 13 Mute Swans. Turnstones totalled 32 and were running around feeding on the grass adjacent to the car park, looking good for a ringing session with a whoosh net.

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