Today was set aside for completing some squares for the BTO winter thrush survey. Playful Pete text saying he was on his way to Burscough and did I want to go birding, as far as I was concerned that was a clear offer of help. So, off we trotted to the first square; Warper's Moss, just round the corner from home. It was a tad misty but at least we managed to pick up all five species of winter thrush, a female Sparrowhawk, two Reed Buntings, four Yellowhammers, 39 Whooper Swans and four Mute Swans; slim pickings, but a reasonable start. The second square was up in Mawdesley, again all five thrush species with the addition of six Tree Sparrow, two Bullfinches and some flyover Pink-feet. The final square was between Hoscar Moss and Low Meadows; very few thrushes, the avian highlights being four more Yellowhammers and 121 Pink-feet. I still have a square to do but that'll have to wait until tomorrow; I'm still off then and so is Jacob, he can come and help me.
Playful and I drove down Meadow Lane looking for Corn Buntings and found a flock of eleven perched on the top of a sycamore at the back of one of the farms. I'm a bit worried about my local Corn Buntings, they just haven't been in the usual flocks this winter; maybe it's because there lots of food available (unharvested cereals) and it's mild? Further down Meadow Lane, on the edge of the Low Meadows flood, a large mixed flock of Lapwings and Black-headed Gulls was busily feeding and drew our attention, 27 Ruff were feeding amongst the flock - the highest count I've had here.
A quick tootle down Curlew Lane revealed a large feeding flock of Whoopers and Pink-feet that we had a quick look through, but we both needed a brew and Playful had a train to catch. After a brew and walking the dog I headed back to Curlew Lane alone and looked through and counted the birds there; 2800 Pink-feet; 315 Whooper Swans; two Bewick's Swans; a Mute Swan and a Black Swan. Three year ticks suddenly appeared out of the mist; John Aitchison; Jason Stannage and finally Frank Whitney, all of whom enjoyed the wildfowl spectacle. Frank and I enjoyed a Barn Owl and Sparrowhawk and noted a flock of Ruff heading towards Martin Mere. Another decent day in the field.
About Graham Clarkson
Born & brought up in Marshside, I started birding there in the mid 1970s & made my first birding trip to Martin Mere in 1977. I'm lucky as I've worked at both sites and have a unique insight into how the sites are managed for birds. I've lived & worked in Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland & Gloucestershire & I've spent time working in Kazakhstan & Madagascar. I enjoy birding my various West Lancashire patches, making frequent visits to the Ribble coastline & other sites in the north-west of England. I stray elsewhere in the UK & enjoy birding abroad from time to time. I'm particularly interested in wildfowl, with an interest in waders & raptors, bird counts & surveys & in habitat & species conservation. I'm trying to get the hang of photography & digiscoping - I'll get there eventually. My degree is in conservation biology & I work for a conservation charity and volunteer for others. I've guided on numerous birding days out & trips & guided birding holidays to Lesvos, Andalucia, Extremedura, Majorca, Camargue, Hungary, Finland & Florida. I enjoy showing people birds & habitats & helping them learn more about birds & enjoy birding. I'm interested in captive breeding & reintroduction projects & zoos, how they're managed & how they contribute to conservation. I'm a proud Lancastrian & love the Lancashire countryside & landscapes. I'm a keen season ticket holding Evertonian & also keep up with what's happening at Southport, PNE & Bristol Rovers. 2014 may bring a second dog & some chickens - watch this space! I hope you find the blog interesting - please feel free to leave a comment.