Sunday 3 December 2023

From Estuary to Feeding Station

In the past four days Gail and I have had two visits down to the Wyre estuary and Quay, and it has been cold. No snow for us, thankfully, but plenty of frost. Both our visits coincided with high tide, and during our second visit, the tide started to drop.
When we had a walk along the Quay and estuary late Thursday morning, there was just a couple of small areas of mud remaining, and crammed in on these areas were fourteen Oystercatchers, 54 Redshanks and 51 Black-tailed Godwits.
The high tide was pushing the wildfowl out of the saltmarsh vegetation, and they continued to feed, presumably on seeds floating in the water. We had twelve Teal, 26 Mallards and 46 Wigeon.
We were back the following day, but this time in the afternoon, and it was a gloriously bright, crisp afternoon, and the wind had dropped, making it feel quite pleasant in the sun.
The tide was fully in when we set off on our walk, and on the return leg it had started to fall. The saltmarsh vegetation was fully covered, and we had fewer wildfowl than yesterday, with twenty Mallards, two Teal and two Shelducks
As we turned the corner from the Quay to the estuary, and started heading downstream, we had a new species for the year for the site, in the form of a group of five Twites. A number have been feeding all winter so far on the other side of the estuary, but these were the first on 'our' side. Always a pleasure to encounter. 
From the scrub that has started to take over the old ferry car park, we could hear a Chiffchaff calling, and eventually it worked its way fairly close to us, so we could see it, as well as hear it. The Chiffie, combined with the Common Sandpiper that we had, made it seem more like an early March afternoon, rather than December!
As the tide dropped, an area of mud appeared on the edge of the estuary where the channel runs into the docks, and a few waders dropped in. We sat and watched a lovely assortment of seven Dunlins, 37 Black-tailed Godwits, two Curlews, nineteen Knot and an Oystercatcher. 
Yesterday, we had a ringing session at our farmland/woodland feeding station on our friend's farm, and it was another chilly one. We always start later in the morning at the feeding station to give the birds chance to feed before we start, and we only ever ring for a couple of hours, so there is plenty of time for the birds to feed after we have packed up.   
We ringed 20 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):
Chaffinch - 2 (3)
Blue Tit - 5 (8)
Tree Sparrow - 4
Great Tit - 4 (4)
Robin - 1 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Dunnock - 2
Greenfinch - 1 


From our ringing table base, we could see birds moving from the feeding station that our friends Robert and Diana have in their farmhouse garden, to our feeding station at the edge of some woodland, and in addition to the four Tree Sparrows ringed, there was at least twenty birds moving backwards and forwards. 
Just after we had put the net up, we could see a Great Spotted Woodpecker perched up on a branch adjacent to one of the seed feeders, and attempting to extract some sunflower hearts from one of the ports. A few Siskins could be heard from around the feeding station, but none were seen. 
We had very few winter thrushes, just two Fieldfares and singles of Redwing and Mistle Thrush. Next to where we had placed our ringing table, three Moorhens (below) were on the grass adjacent to a ditch, so I threw a few handfuls of seed out, and they came running in and had a good feed. Note to self; feed the Moorhens on subsequent visits. Two Grey Herons, 172 Pink-footed Geese and a Goldcrest all made it on to the pages of my notebook, but very little else. It was then time to retire to the warmth of our friend's farmhouse kitchen, where we were treated to a pot of steaming hot coffee, and bacon egg and barms! Thanks Robert and Diana. 

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