Trip reports

2 for 1, RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh & RSPB Marshside

2 for 1, RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh & RSPB Marshside
Sparrowhawk - L Bimson

Saturday, 18 November 2017

It was a beautiful sunny still day on Sunday, the perfect day for our group's field trip to RSPB Hesketh out marsh; this is an exposed sight and can be quite unpleasant in winter, so we were fortunate for once with the weather. Unfortunately the peace and quiet was disturbed by the repetitive recall of gunfire from the local clay pigeon shoot behind the reserve; at least no wildfowl were being shot.

Twittering and moving through the hawthorn hedges we could see tree sparrows, linnets, goldfinches, long tailed tits, robin, blackbirds, fieldfare, redwing, song thrush and chaffinch. Pheasant, wood pigeon and a lapwing favoured the harvested sprout fields.

On the marsh whistling wigeon outnumbered everything, others present included shelduck, teal, mallard, shoveler, a grey heron and a couple of paddling little egrets. A couple of Whooper swan families numbering 10 individuals where on the back pools.

A peregrine sat in a distant tree, later to be seen diving and having an aerial scrap with a crow, whilst up to five marsh harriers were skimming the embankments below. A green wing tag which told us one of the female harriers had come from Norfolk, tagged by the North West Norfolk ringing group with hawk and owl trust.

Other raptors included a kestrel hovering over the back fields and an injured female sparrowhawk; looking very sorry for herself, huddled close to the fence line, not so far away a shelduck carcass lay partially plucked on the mud bank. We can only surmise what might have happened to both birds

Scanning another pool two greenshank, their white plumage shining out alongside commoner redshank. A sprinkling of dunlin was present with black tailed godwits and a distant grey plover on a rear mudflat.

A grey wagtail and several meadow pipits, foraged by the puddles on the path alongside the marsh edge.
Further along the path we found a 'dopping'? of 11 female - goosanders, with two goldeneye and two great crested grebes. We eventually found a single Spotted Redshank on the walk back, its long thin confirming its identity.Sporadic flocks of pink footed geese flew over heading in the direction of marshside, which is where we headed next.
The Marshside visitor centre was bustling with birders, so we decamped to Nel's hide to finish our trip. Sadly no dowicher had lingered but we were treated to additional sightings of snipe, gadwall and common gull.