Old Moor welcomed Leigh Ornithological Society today. It was a real pleasure to spend time with this group as they explored the reserve in some of the most changeable weather we’ve had of late. Sorry about that folks, but you are welcome back anytime!

Here’s the summary of today’s sightings…

The bird news from just up the road at Adwick Washland came courtesy of Nigel Smith and included: eleven plus redshank, six or more ringed plover, a dunlin, one curlew and a peregrine. The full list can be found here. Thanks Nigel. From her travels, Karen Williams added a chiffchaff to Adwick’s daylist.

Karen also passed on some exciting news of developments at Wombwell Ings. Very soon there will be alterations made to Wombwell’s hide. This is part of the ‘Wings Across the Ings’ construction project there. New windows will be cut in the back of the existing metal hide and, while there may be some temporary disruption, the result will be better views towards Broomhill Flash and the new wetlands currently being created.

Reed bunting in the Tree Sparrow Farm this afternoon

Regular readers of this blog (again, so sorry) will know that I quite enjoy a wild day. There’s a whole other range of behaviours to observe, even in familiar species. Today, for example, the pair of redshanks on the Wader Scrape had not only to find enough food, but to trace the edges of the scrape battling gusts of wind that knocked back far bigger creatures - including me!

These small waders only weigh around 120g and yet almost ran around the water’s edge as if unbothered by the gales.

Stronger than it looks – the redshank!

There’s no doubt one of the star turns at the moment is that very smart Mediterranean gull. Today the gull left the Mere several times but always returned to Island One, close to those sunken drain pipes.

The Med. gull - what a crackin' bird!

Keen readers might have spotted above that, late this afternoon (in fact in the middle of some ‘weather’), an adult yellow-legged gull dropped in to the Wader Scrape. This imposing bird was probably heading somewhere completely different and was temporarily grounded by fierce winds and rain. For a short while it took refuge on an island, right next to the pair of lesser black-backs that had spent all day, heads down, on the Scrape.

Sadly, it appeared not to stay long and the moment the storm passed, it took wing. As far as I know it was last seen heading in the direction of Wombwell Ings.

I can’t end this blog without mentioning that – even given the rushing winds – the booms of a bittern could be picked out across most of the reserve; brambling could still be found easily in the Tree Sparrow Farm; and eight dunlin joined the black-tailed godwit on the Field Pool this morning.

There was – as ever – much to see, hear and enjoy. On that last point, I overheard one of our younger visitors today excitedly tell his family that he wanted to find ‘a cowfinch!’

Luckily we have plenty of those at Old Moor! Until next time.

A 'cowfinch' in the Tree Sparrow Farm between showers

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