Trip reports

Visit to Marshside RSPB, Southport

Male merlin perched on mossy hummock, Shetland Isles

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A cold and blustery wind met 16 members of the Lancaster local group as we met in the car park at Marshside. First stop was Sandgrounders hide, where the marsh was covered in wigeon, with several thousand birds dotted around. A little egret fed on the marsh and a merlin hunted. A good selection of ducks included teal, mallard, shoveler, shelduck and gadwall, with geese present comprising pinkfeet, canada and greylag. A little grebe dived in the channel to the left of the hide. There were few waders present, with only odd redshanks and black-tailed godwits. The fencelines provided perching points for kestrel and a magpie. Black headed and great black backed gulls flew over the marsh.
We then braved the wind to watch the birds being flushed off the saltmarsh by the incoming tide. Three merlin were observed hunting and perched on the fence posts. Flocks of black-tailed godwits were disturbed by the tide and provided good views of this spectacular wader in flight. Other waders included oystercatcher, curlew, and knot. Ducks and geese were present in good numbers, with wigeon, mallard, shoveler, pintail, shelduck and pinkfeet. A few skylarks flew overhead, with small flocks of linnets and starlings and a few reed buntings and meadow pipits observed. We also saw cormorants, herring, black headed and great black backed gulls.
Nel's hide provided shelter from the cold wind and again provided a good selection of birds, with wigeon, teal, mallard, shoveler, shelduck, gadwall, pintail and pinkfeet. Good numbers of waders provided views of black-tailed godwits, lapwing and redshank, with a single knot in with one of the redshank groups. A few snipe were also spotted and a few moorhen were on the water.
Most of the group then left for home, while a few of us enjoyed an hour or so at nearby Mere Sands Wood, where we added a few new species to our day list, including goosander, buzzard, heron, tufted duck, blue tit and long tailed tit.
Ken Harrison