Tuesday 24 December 2019

Curiouser and Curiouser

I know that my Blog title isn't good English, but Alice's words from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass popped into my head when I had a Moorhen and a Shag in the same view through my bins on a dilapidated old wooden jetty in the middle of a river! How often can you say that you have had a Shag and a Moorhen in the same view? More on that later.

At weekend I was back in the northeast doing another of my wintering bird surveys on the Tweed estuary. I thought I wasn't going to get the survey in, because at first light it was foggy, but thankfully this soon lifted to reveal an overcast day with a light southwesterly wind.

It was a morning of quality, well for me anyway, rather than quantity and first up was a Red-throated Diver. It drifted past me on the incoming tide and it was nice to get good views of this cracking little diver, compared to the usual views I get when seawatching at the Obs!

One of the highlights, perhaps one of four highlights of the morning, were two Black-throated Divers in the estuary; a first calendar year bird and an adult. Unfortunately they were always at the opposite end of where I was in terms of my vantage points. I picked the first calendar year bird quite a way upstream from me, and then when I shifted to my second vantage point (VP), the 'Black-throat' was then a long way downstream of me. Frustrating!

The adult appeared just beyond the jetty with the Moorhen and the Shag and then disappeared! I didn't see it again all morning, so sadly no photographs.

The second highlight of the morning came in the form of a cracking Otter. I picked it up as it swam underneath an old pier, and I had brief but pleasing views, and I thought that would be it. However, when I had finished at my first VP and was heading to my second, I saw what looked like a disembodied head swimming along in the river. Scope back down, bins to eyes, and sure enough it was 'the' or another Otter. It slowly made it's way downstream, passing me at a distance, and it was continually diving, and at one stage it surfaced with what I think was a fish. It then carried on until out of sight, and I headed off to my other VP one happy bird surveyor!

I've posted below a series of shots of the Otter as it made its way past me. Unfortunately it was overcast with poor light, so the photos aren't brilliant, but it gives you a flavour of my 'Otterly' fantastic experience!


The third highlight of the morning involved the Moorhen and the Shag that I mentioned at the beginning of my post. Opposite where my second VP is located, stands a dilapidated wooden jetty/pier in the middle of the river. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the movement of a bird flying, and I swung round with my bins to see an awkwardly flying bird with short narrow wings, trailing its legs, that then pulled up and landed on the jetty. For a split second I couldn't compute what it was, and then I realised it was a Moorhen! What an earth was a Moorhen doing on an old jetty in the middle of a river?! It worked it's way along the jetty, looking for food, and when it go to the end of the jetty it stood next to a Shag that was on the jetty. So in one view through my bins, I had a Moorhen and a Shag together, two species that I doubt I will see together like that again. I raised my camera to take a photograph and the Moorhen dropped down to some of the structure underneath. It then worked it's way back to the end that it first landed on, flew back on top of the jetty and repeated the process! After several minutes it flew back to the shore.

Below are a few pictures of the Moorhen on the old jetty.

 Grey Heron; another jetty user

My fourth, and final, highlight of the morning was a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, or to be precise Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus. They were some distance from me in the mouth of the river, but I was getting excellent views through my scope. I couldn't really tell how many there were because they kept going left to right and right to left, and all I can say is that the most I saw together was four! So all I can say is that there were at least four, and probably more.

As I said earlier it was a morning for quality and not quantity, so in addition to the above highlights all I can add is seven Shags, two Little Grebes (a bit of a surprise), two male Goldeneyes and two male Goosanders. It was a very enjoyable morning!


I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all Solstice Greetings, and I hope that you enjoy your mid-Winter, or indeed mid-Summer (depending on where in the world you are), festivities, however you celebrate!

The sun has returned and the days are getting longer...yippee!!!

Wednesday 18 December 2019


I think I've probably said before, but there has been a good berry crop this year (and nuts), and the hedgerows are still full of Hawthorn berries, and consequently lots of thrushes. It's quite unusual for us in my neck of the woods to still have numbers of Fieldfares around. Redwings can generally be found all winter, but Fieldfares tend to pass through in late Autumn, then you get them again in late winter/early spring when they are on return passage, and can often be accompanying Starlings.

I think the glut of berries is holding them, and I guess it will be the same for other parts of the country, and it's providing an opportunity to enjoy these stonking thrushes all the more. I was at one of my winter bird survey sites in west Lancashire yesterday, and from my vantage point I recorded 239 Fieldfares and 92 Redwings.



I say recorded, but I really mean that I enjoyed them, I was immersed in them, I was dazzled by them, enthralled by them...and amazed by them. There aren't enough superlatives to describe the many facets of being 'with' thrushes. I say 'being' because they were all around me; whizzing over my head, calling nervously from hedgerows, plucking berries, flying around 'schacking' and 'tseeing' and vigorously probing the sheep pastures for soft-bodies prey items with Starlings.

The thrushes were most certainly the highlight of my afternoon under leaden skies with a cold southwesterly wind. Eventually I had to bring my survey to an earlier end than intended, as a band of rain moved through. I stuck it out until me, my maps and optics were sodden, and retreated to the relative comforts of my car.

A quick scan of my notebook reveals that I also had thirteen Chaffinches, a Skylark, a Jay, a continental male Blackbird, two Buzzards, six Curlews, seven Collared Doves and 136 Pink-footed Geese. But still it was the thrushes!

Friday 6 December 2019

Frosty Mornings

Over the past week we've had a number of frosty mornings, which has lead to some glorious weather to be out and about in. I apologise for a lack of Blog postings (again) over the last week - ten days, but I have been a busy, busy boy! It's been outdoors/bird related so I can't complain too much, if at all!

I had my good friend George from Northumberland staying with me for a couple of days last week and on Friday morning we managed to get out for a couple of hours birding on the estuary. And guess what, it was a frosty morning. Walking down to the estuary we had a Kingfisher zip past us along the ditch that runs along the side of the path. After it had streaked past, leaving a smudge of aquamarine etched on our retinas, I thought the ditch isn't particularly great looking, but the Kingfisher knows what it's looking for more than I do.

We had a Fox that looked resplendent in the field to the north of the long hedgerow, with it's rusty coat reflecting the early morning rays of the sun and looking a fiery red, contrasting with the monochrome frost coating the grass with light reflecting crystals. 

Crossing the old railway line a number of Blackbirds and Redwings feasted on Hawthorn berries, and there was some more of that 'red and frost' contrast going on with the Redwings.

Out on the saltmarsh and estuary the usual suspects were there, with several Rock Pipits calling as we walked to the point to have a look through the waders and wildfowl. The bulk of these were Teal, Wigeon, Pink-footed Geese and Redshanks, but a Spotted Redshank out on the mud was a nice addition for the notebook.


The tide was running in, so we headed round to the quay to see if there were any Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the last remaining mud before the tide covered it, and we weren't disappointed as 56 frantically probed the mud, calling contentedly.

Saturday dawned frosty again and Gail and I headed to a site in the Hodder Valley in Bowland, where the landowner, Simon, had set up a feeding station for us. It was in an area of semi-mature woodland, an arboretum in fact planted some 25 years ago. This was our first ringing session there, and a bit of a tester to see if it would be worthwhile. We expected to ring a number of Tit species, and we weren't wrong, but a few other species made us think that it is worth persevering with. We ringed 28 birds as follows:

Great Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 12
Chaffinch - 2
Coal Tit - 7
Goldfinch - 1
Nuthatch - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1

 Frosty woodland

Coal Tit


There were a number of Siskins criss-crossing the woodland at tree top height, perhaps about 30 or so, and they totally ignored the feeders feeding on Birch and Alder catkins. Other finches in the woodland included two Lesser Redpolls and at least three Chaffinches. A calling Tawny Owl and a handful of Jays, Fieldfares and Redwings also made it into my notebook, but that was it.

Earlier this week, on another frosty morning, I had the first of a series of wintering bird surveys that I have to complete not too far from the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. Whilst I was at my first VP I had the feeling that somebody was watching me, and not from the nearby coastal cottages, but from out on the river, and there was an Atlantic Grey Seal bobbing up and down in the water keeping a careful eye on me.

 Some views of Berwick, above & below

A few Rock Pipits fed along the shore and on the river were Goldeneye, two male Goosanders and a Red-throated Diver that too was keeping an eye on me. In fact in one of the shots below you can see it angling it's head to look at me. A number of waders were feeding out on the mud before the tide ran in and the two most numerous species were 61 Curlews and 99 Redshanks.

 Red-throated Diver

The last of my frosty mornings was mid-week at my winter bird survey in the west of my home county. The major upset for me of the morning was a cold flask of coffee! When I was making my flask at home before setting out, I heated the milk but forgot to boil the kettle! Imagine my disappointment when I poured my first cup!

Thrushes were the order of the morning and I recorded 147 Fieldfares and 41 Redwings heading in all sorts of directions, calling, not calling, dropping into berry laden Hawthorns and just perched up looking stunning in the watery December sunshine.


One of the most enjoyable moments of the morning was the antics of a young male Sparrowhawk. From my vantage point I caught sight of the Sparrowhawk working the hedges immediately north of where I was standing. He flew along the front of the hedge in the field opposite me, just inches from the ground, all the time 'flicking' in and out of the hedge. When he got to the end of that length of hedge, he could either flick over the hedge and carry on, or turn right at the ninety degree junction of hedges. Luckily for me he turned right and carried along this shorter length of hedge doing just the same as before. He was like a shadow flickering amongst the thorny limbs of the Hawthorn, and you were never quite sure whether he was indeed just shadow, or real.

It was then that I realised that when he got to the end of this short length of hedge he would turn right again and come along the hedge that I was standing sort of within, and behind, and he did!

He came along 'my hedge' and flicked through a gap where I was standing. passing me by just a few feet. At this point I came out with a good old Anglo-Saxon expletive in my head! He then shot across a short open area of field and carried on past the pond, and on to haunt some more hedges. Stunning!

After that everything else seemed fairly mundane, just a couple of Jays, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Raven, a female Sparrowhawk (perhaps his mother or sister), two Kestrels, three Buzzards, eight Curlews and 24 Collared Doves. Hang on, 24 Collared Doves! On some telegraph lines I could see some pigeons/doves perched up and on jizz I thought they looked remarkably like Collared Doves, so to be certain I trained my telescope on them and indeed they were! This is probably the largest flock of Collared Doves I have had for some time. And when I put my thinking cap on, it dawns on me that over the last few years I am seeing less and less Collared Doves, but nobody seems to talk about it. I suppose birders who are driven by listing just like to get them on their year list in early Jan, and never look at them again for the rest of the year, but that's another story!

Wednesday 20 November 2019

From A Great Egret On A Cold Day To Tree Planting

I currently have a series of wintering bird surveys to do in west Lancashire, and the first one kicked off last Thursday. These are Vantage Point (VP) surveys, and my VP at this particular site when it is a cold northerly, well..., is very cold. The site is on a slight rise, with good 360 degree views (hence the VP location), and is therefore pretty exposed. There are a few hedges, but these have been flailed to within an inch of their lives in the past, and afford little protection from what the good folk of Norfolk call a 'lazy wind'!

The VP Station

So my survey commenced under 7 oktas cloud cover with a biting NNE wind. There were a number of Pink-footed Geese on the move, all mainly moving in a southerly direction, and I had 545 in total.

 Pink-footed Geese

Thrushes were a feature of the morning too, with a movement of 36 Redwings, 94 Fieldfares and a couple of Song Thrushes. Skylarks were also moving and I had ten head south.

When I was scanning some distant Pink-footed Geese with my scope, I picked up a closer Great Egret that was probably heading towards some feeding grounds. Little Egrets still turn my head, so a Great Egret turns it even more!

I learned something today about Jay calls, that I didn't know before. I was stood with ears and eyes skywards, merrily counting and plotting species and flight directions on my maps, when I heard what I thought was a Buzzard. The mew call was loud and close, so I grabbed my camera thinking that I am going to get stonking views of a low-flying Buzzard in a minute, and out pops a Jay! A quick bit of research later in the 'Collins Bird Guide' and under Jay it states "sometimes gives a descending mew, 'piyeh', very like Buzzard's". I never knew that, and felt a bit daft that I didn't know that. I can't tell you how many Jays I've heard over the years, but all I have ever heard is their loud, harsh 'kschaach' call. You learn something new every day!

Talking of real Buzzards, I had three, and other raptors were a Kestrel and immature male Sparrowhawk. Seven Long-tailed Tits are also worth mentioning.

I was back at the same site the following day for another four hours in the cold, and I had 2 oktas cloud cover and it was less windy, making it feel less cold over all. Tree Sparrow was an addition to yesterday's species, and I only had single figures of Fieldfare and Redwing, but three Mistle Thrushes were also new in.

I had two Sparrowhawks, two Kestrels and five Buzzards this morning and the Great Egret was replaced by a Little Egret. Long-tailed Tits now numbered 25 (two different flocks) and it was a pleasure, as always, to record a Raven.

Weekend found Gail and I helping to plant trees at the Nature Park, and between about ten of us we planted 200 trees provided by the Woodland Trust. We selected the location carefully for the trees, in area that was sheltered and also wouldn't impact on the pool by creating a displacement effect.

 Gail doing a bit of tree planting

Fingers crossed for some decent weather this weekend so we can see what's using our new now operational feeding station in the Hodder Valley.

Monday 11 November 2019

The Weary Week That Was

It's been a quiet time for me this past week, in fact it's been quite a weary week weather wise; cold, wet and windy.

However, last Friday dawned bright and clear and I headed to Great Eccleston to have a look at Simon's farm, and give him some advice if needed. Simon owns the site where I have my nest boxes in the Hodder Valley, and in fact we are going to set up a feeding station there, but more of that later.

The farm near Great Eccleston is all grass and it is a livestock farm. It is wet, and contains several floods that look good for wintering wildfowl and hopefully breeding waders. There is little in the way of hedgerows on the farm, but a number will be planted over the winter.

I met Simon in the yard and we headed out on a circular walk around the farm. First up was a Buzzard flying over, and then eight 'whooping' Whooper Swans flew in from the north. The floods were quiet with just a couple of Grey Herons on them.

As we walked along one of the flood embankments 60 - 80 noisy Fieldfares dropped into the trees, before taking to the air again and scattering because of a female Sparrowhawk drifting over.

It was certainly a morning of flyovers because we had three Green Sandpipers go over, two Little Egrets and 160 Pink-footed Geese.

Did he need any advice? No it all looks great, and I look forward to calling in on a semi-regular basis and record what's there.

There was a half chance that it could be fit for ringing on Sunday just gone, so I headed to the reedbed and scrub where we ring at the Obs to check the water levels in our net rides. As I mentioned before it has been very wet of late, and rather than turning up in the dark with all my gear, I just wanted to make sure that it was okay first.

I managed to walk in through the reeds to the net rides, but it was wet, probably half way up my wellies. The net rides were similarly wet at the southern end of them, but dry at the northern end. It was workable, but on balance with the time of year, the likelihood of being able to pull birds down at the very end of the autumn migration, and the fact that the odd bow wave would undoubtedly top over my wellies, I decided to officially close the site until Spring, and took all my ropes off.

I had a look on the pools and there was thirteen Tufted Ducks, 33 Coots, two Shovelers and 68 Herring Gulls. 

Before heading home I decided to have a look at the mouth of the Wyre estuary and have a walk down to the Quay. The walk down to the quay was quiet with just 400 Pink-footed Geese heading northeast. In the Quay as the tide was dropping a few waders were stopping off to feed on the newly exposed mud, including two Curlews, 69 Redshanks, ten Oystercatchers, 46 Black-tailed Godwits and four Dunlins.

 The mouth of the Wyre estuary

 Pink-footed Geese

Yesterday I treated Gail (I did buy her lunch) to an hours work out in the Hodder Valley clearing an area to set up a winter feeding station for ringing. The site holds good numbers of Lesser Redpolls and Siskins, and it is these that we seek to target. So after an hour of sawing, lopping and clearing, we had an area cleared surrounding the proposed feeding station where we could put up three different nets to suit different wind directions. The photo below shows the feeding station with a lonely feeder on it, but by the end of the week there will be another five! We just need the weather now!

 Feeding station

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Just Greenfinch Town This Time

I kicked the week off the week with a ringing session in one of the reedbeds and scrub at the Obs. It was a frosty start and I had clear skies with a 5-10 mph NE wind.

From the word go there was some vis, but as usual under clear skies it was high, and also as I was busy operating mist nets and ringing it was difficult for me to monitor it accurately. So all I am going to mention are the species involved, without counts, and these were Brambling, Fieldfare, Redwing, Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Starling, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Skylark, Chaffinch and Pink-footed Geese. A couple of the species that I did count were the 482 Jackdaws and four Whooper Swans south.

 Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swans

A couple of Cetti's Warblers and a Water Rail called from the reeds, and about ten Snipe dropped on to the new scrape. A pair of Stonechats moved around the edge of the pool, and a male and female Sparrowhawk caused mayhem at different times of the morning. The only other raptor I had was a single Kestrel, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker is still fairly noteworthy in this landscape with little tree cover.


I ringed 29 birds as follows:

Fieldfare - 1
Blackbird - 1 (continental male)
Greenfinch - 20 (not a city this morning, rather a town!)
Lesser Redpoll - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1 (that's 14 for the site this year)
Reed Bunting - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Robin - 1



After I packed up ringing I had a look on the main pool and had 39 Coots, a female Shoveler, Little Grebe and four Tufted Ducks. A Song Thrush also made it into my notebook. 

I'm stuck indoors today catching up on office work, but I do have site visits tomorrow and Friday. However, whilst giving my two Oriental cats an accompanied outing in the garden (they are house cats) I had 100 Jackdaws go north and 200 Fieldfares south. Migration in action from the comfort of one's own garden!

Thursday 24 October 2019

Cock o' the North

I had the morning free yesterday, so I headed to the Point for first light as there was a tide at about 0700. I was greeted with 4 oktas cloud cover and a 15-20 mph southerly wind. I headed to the end of the dunes where I could get some shelter behind the sea wall from the southerly wind, and also be able to see all around me to count any vis.

Straight away I could hear Chaffinch calls, with that of the 'Cock o' the North', Brambling to me and you, mixed in. Cock o' the North is a name given to Brambling in eastern and southern Scotland. In fact the Brambling has several common/local names and some of my favourites are Bramble Finch (one I use frequently myself), Mountain Finch, Furze Chirper & Furze Chucker (based on it's call), Tartan Back (Scotland; based on the colouration of the upperparts) and Yallawing (Northumberland).

Anyway, back to the vis! I counted 303 Chaffinches heading anywhere between east and west, but mainly south, with six Bramblings mixed in. Both my counts of Chaffinch and Brambling will be huge underestimates as these birds were literally dots in the blue yonder!

The only other birds I had on vis were 44 Starlings, two Alba Wags, eight Greenfinches and six Siskins (again a huge underestimate).

Besides training my eyes and ears skywards, I was also looking seawards as well; an attempt at multi-tasking! There was some movement at, over and on the sea and included nine Auk sp., 27 Common Scoters, six Pintails, two Guillemots, three Whooper Swans, a Shelduck, two Golden Plovers and two Gannets.

 Common Scoters (honest!)

Perhaps the best marine beastie that I had was a Harbour Porpoise fairly close in-shore. I kept seeing it out of the corner of my eye, but every time I waited for it to surface it didn't! Eventually I got onto it and enjoyed watching the surfacing with a rolling motion type thingy that they have going on!

I then bobbed into the cemetery but it was quiet in there other than a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk that 'zipped' low past me and some great migration action from a Dunnock. I watched a Dunnock calling and behaving very agitatedly, and it worked it's way up to the top of the bush that it was in. It then started calling even more, threw itself into the air and it climbed, and climbed, and climbed and headed south! Brilliant!

On my way home I called in at the Nature Park to have a look on the new scrape and already a pair of Mallards, a female Teal and a Little Grebe were on it. Other than that just a Siskin, eleven Goldfinches, 39 Coots and two Cetti's Warblers found their way into my notebook.

The new scrape (above & below). It looks a bit brutal at the moment, but 
once it has settled a bit it will provide some great habitat for waders and 


Monday 21 October 2019

Greenfinch City

At weekend Alice and I had a ringing session at the Obs in the willow scrub and reedbed of one of the wetlands. The morning dawned with clear skies and there was very little wind, perhaps just the hint of a northeasterly.

We got there in the dark with the aim of trying to catch and ring a few Thrushes. We did ring one continental thrush, in the form of Blackbird, but unfortunately the Fieldfares and Redwings weren't playing ball. A handful were attracted to the MP3 players, but that was it.

Greenfinches were the main ringing feature of the morning, and I commented that it was "Greenfinch city", and Alice said is that going to be the title of your Blog, and it is! Because of prior engagements in the afternoon that we both had (me making final arrangements for Gail's birthday party that night), we had to pack up whilst we were still catching, but nevertheless we managed to ring 54 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Cetti's Warbler - 4 (1)
Reed Bunting - 3
Robin - 1
Chaffinch - 2
Greenfinch - 39 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Wren - (1)


From a birding perspective because we were busy ringing we didn't see a great deal other than 65 Jackdaws, 580 Pink-footed Geese and a female Stonechat.

I was in north Cumbria carrying out tree assessments all day at several sites and it was obvious that there was quite a large arrival of thrushes as I was seeing mainly Redwings and smaller numbers of Fieldfares at all of the five sites that I visited from Penrith to the Solway to the Northumberland border, and everywhere in between!

Fingers crossed I'll be out for a couple of hours tomorrow morning at the Obs.

Friday 18 October 2019


It was a good vis morning this morning, or should I say it was on the coast where Ian was located, but even over the Nature Park where I was, there was quite a bit of vis, or at least I was hearing a variety of species even though I couldn't see them high up in the stratosphere. More of that later!

Ian and I have been working with Lancashire County Council at the Nature Park, within the Obs recording area, advising on some habitat management works to help improve the biodiversity of the site. Yesterday morning contractors started working on one of the shallow pools, with the aim to open it up by removing the non-native invasive New Zealand pygmyweed Crassula helmsii and areas of encroaching Common Reed. This will make the site more suitable to passage waders and wintering wildfowl.

I visited the Nature Park to see how the contractors doing the work were getting on, and they are doing a cracking job. It should all be finished by the weekend, and then it will be a case of monitoring and seeing how the birds utilise the newly created pools. I've included a few pictures below of the work in progress.

I was only on site for just over an hour and I mentioned that there was some vis. I had lots of registrations of calls, but as the birds were so high I couldn't see them, so the totals produced here are actually quite meaningless, but nevertheless on vis I had eleven Skylarks, four Greenfinches, seven Meadow Pipits, nine Reed Buntings, seven Chaffinches, 730 Pink-footed Geese, six Siskins, 163 Jackdaws, a Rook, a Snipe and three Goldfinches

 Some of the Jackdaws (above & below)

I counted the wildfowl and allies on the pools and there were 45 Coots, ten Tufted Ducks, 23 Mallards, three Mute Swans, three Moorhens and a Little Grebe. Other bits of interest included a Goldcrest, a Water Rail, a Raven and a singing Cetti's Warbler.


 Tufted duck

The forecast is looking okay for ringing this weekend, and next week high pressure is building and hopefully bringing in more calm conditions suitable for the arrival of some more autumn migrants. Fingers crossed!

Thursday 10 October 2019

Immersed On The Merse

Earlier this week I had some tree assessments to do in Red Kite country in Dumfries and Galloway, and if you were to draw an imaginary line from Dalbeattie, to Castle Douglas to Balmaclellan at the top of Loch Ken, all of my tree assessments weren't far from this line. And this is well and truly Kite country! In fact driving between my site visits I probably had in the region of 15-20 sightings of Red Kite.

Gail and I had a lovely overnight stay at our regular B & B, Douglas House, that we stay at in Castle Douglas, and the following morning we headed off to Mersehead RSPB for a mornings birding immersed on the merse! As we set off to explore one of our favourite reserves, we had 7 oktas cloud cover with a brisk southwesterly wind.

We headed along the path to the shore on the Solway first of all, and the path takes you between the merse and some extensive grazed pastures frequented by Barnacle Geese, for which the reserve is very important for. If it had been a less windy morning there would quite possibly have been a few migrants in the Gorse hedgerow between the merse and the pasture, but this morning we had to make do with thirteen Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Goldcrests.

Below are a few shots of what is my favourite goose, the Barnace Goose!

In the extensively grazed wet pasture were 609 Barnacle Geese, 140 Lapwings and 400 Teal on the floods. I read later in the day that at the moment there are 700 Barnacle Geese at Mersehead. The path then headed across the merse to the shore, and it was quiet here except for 15 Skylarks, 16 Meadow Pipits and a Reed Bunting. Fly-overs as we walked along were a single Swallow, a Buzzard and a pair of Goosanders.

It was quiet along the shore, but the views along the white shell beach and the Solway were gorgeous and there wasn't another soul other than Gail and I. We reached the woodland that runs from the middle of the reserve to the coast, that always looks good for migrants, but it always seems to be windy when we're here and all we could muster were two more Goldcrests and a couple of Chiffchaffs.

 The Solway shore

We headed to the first hide overlooking the main pool and counted an additional 200 Teal, plus 55 Wigeons and six Pintail. Below are some pictures of the views overlooking the pool from this hide.

We then headed back to the visitor centre, with three Red Admirals along the way, to have a look at the feeding station outside the main viewing window. It was alive with Chaffinches (20) and Tree Sparrows (15), with lesser numbers of Greenfinches (8-10) and House Sparrows (5).

So, nothing amazing, but it was nice to be out on a great reserve in a lovely part of the world.