What a great time we had on our What's That Wader event today. It was a glorious morning and the birds performed well for the group.
Our first stop at the Allen Pools was supposed to be a short one as most of the wader activity has been on the Eric Morecambe Pools in recent days. However, while we were enjoying a lone lingering avocet plus a few lapwings and snipe, a peregrine dashed over the pools causing birds to scatter in all directions and a large flock of redshank dropped down in front of the hide. A scan through revealed a smart juvenile ruff and a dunlin. In the distance we could see an osprey perched up on a post and a kingfisher briefly whizzed by.
We moved on to the Eric Morecambe Hide and settled in to scrutinise the large numbers of birds out on the pools. Soon, black-tailed godwits, greenshanks and curlew were added to the tally of shorebirds on show. Yet another species of raptor appeared - this time a merlin, which sat obligingly on a fence post making short work of whatever hapless small bird it had caught. Before long a juvenile marsh harrier appeared and drifted across the pools causing the dabbling teal to explode into flight. A lucky few in the hide once again caught sight of not one but two kingfishers zipping by in a flash of electric blue and a pair of buzzards attempted to steal our attention away from the waders.
All in all, we saw quite a nice selection of birds and hopefully the group gained a little knowledge and built some confidence around this often tricky gang of highly varied birds.
If you'd like to join us on our next What's That Wader on September 28 please book your place soon as numbers are strictly limited. For details see here.
Elsewhere on the reserve the numbers of little egret continue to build and we have had up to two great egrets reported. Bitterns have been showing tremendously well lately and visitors have been getting great views from Lower Hide with occasional sightings from the Causeway Hide too. Wildfowl is building slowly but many birds are still moulting and in eclipse plumage, making identification a challenge. A pair of garganey have been present at the Jackson Pool for several days but thanks to their often elusive nature and cryptic plumage, they are being seen rather sporadically. Patience, luck and familiarity with the species should yield success!
With water levels quite high across the reserve the forecast dry-spell is music to our collective ears. A few more pool edges and loafing areas should entice more birds in front of the hides. One only has to look at the islands at Causeway to see how packed with birds they are - cormorants, mallards and redshanks are jostling shoulder to shoulder for a nice place to roost!
Whatever the weather brings, there's still lots to see here as Autumn creeps ever closer - September and October can bring all manner of unexpected sightings as many birds are on the move plus of course our bearded tits start to use the grit trays and the red deer rut will get underway in earnest.
Photos by Mike Malpass
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