Trip reports

Marton Mere, Blackpool, and Fairhaven Lake, Lytham

Long-tailed tit perched on branch

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Eight of us braved a chill easterly wind, but nonetheless enjoyed a good day of birdwatching at Marton Mere - a splendid urban nature reserve that is managed by Blackpool Council. Upon entering the reserve from the entrance on Lawson Road, we were initially a little disappointed by the apparent lack of small birds in the fields on either side of the footpath, especially when one considered the amount of seed- bearing vegetation that was available. However, within the first fifteen minutes of our walk we did manage decent sightings of jackdaw, carrion crow, magpie, collared dove, woodpigeons and a blackbird that was hiding in an area of scrub.
At our first stop, a viewpoint, overlooking the lake, we could see two goldeneye, several Canada geese and a solitary little egret. A party of some 14 whooper swans flew overhead uttering bugle-like calls. One member of our group spotted a kestrel that was hovering above some electricity pylons in the far distance. Meanwhile, and also at the far end of the mere, a group of cormorants were seated on a small island, some with their wings outstretched and looking rather reptilian.
Undoubtedly the highlight of this part of our day was the long-eared owl (one of two such birds recorded there that week). Although the owl was relatively close-to, one really needed the assistance of a telescope to see this bird on account of its cryptic puffed-up plumage and its position within the dense woody vegetation.
From the hide on the opposite bank of the mere we were able to enjoy perhaps better views of the wildfowl than we had before, notably a large party of teal (around 80 birds) several gadwall and some tufted duck. Our earlier disappointment at not seeing many passerines was remedied at the reserve feeding station (a more sheltered spot and well stocked with bird food). This location brought forth the following tally of woodland (and some non-woodland birds): great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long-tailed tit, robin, chaffinch, dunnock, blackbird, reed bunting, pheasant and moorhen. Inevitably, as is often the case nowadays, a great spotted woodpecker flew into the scene and monopolised possession of one of the fat-ball feeders.
To end our day's birdwatching in the Fylde area, we drove on to Fairhaven Lake at Lytham in anticipation at seeing the long-tailed duck that was reported to be there. Two of our party who had moved on before us said that they had enjoyed good views of this handsome bird only a few minutes earlier. Sadly, we had no such luck and the bird proved elusive - but there again, such is the enjoyment of birdwatching!

Michael Gardner