L.O.S. Fieldltrip to Mere Sands Wood and Hesketh Out Marsh - Saturday 14th March

LAST BUT NOT LEAST


Nuthtach (c) Paul Pennington
Saturday14th March saw an abrupt end to our fieldtrip season due to the Coronavirus. Our trip to Mere Sands Wood would be our last hurrah for the season, with our April and May trips cancelled for the obvious health reasons. Although only nine birders attended, it would prove to be a great outing.

Six of us gathered as arranged for 8.30am at Mere Sands car park, with Raymond, Linda and Joan set to join us a short time after.  We would head off in an anti clockwise direction along the Blue Trail. Our first port of call would be the Marshall Hide over looking The Hollow. Here a small flock of Black-headed Gulls noisily prepared for the upcoming breeding season, and a dozen Tufted Ducks in all their finery, but the best spot was a single Water Rail that skulked among the waterlogged Willow Trees, proving very difficult for a number of our crew to pick up. Eventually all located the bird and left the hide looking forward to the rest of the circuit.

Next, the Ainscough Hide, here much of the same really, Canada Geese, Mallards, and a Kingfisher heard from the previous hide finally made an appearance giving good views. Moving on, and to the small Holmeswood Corner feeding station, Chaffinches and our first Nuthatch, in the field beyond the feeding table, a Song Thrush and a Redwing in excellent condition, happily picked around in the search for food.
 
Moving along to the Redwing Hide, Shovelers about fourteen in number, pairing up. Across on the Twin Island, five or so Snipe snoozed along the waters edge, accompanied by a couple of pair of Gadwall and Teal. To our left in one of the more mature trees a roost of some ten or so Cormorant.

Next would be the Rufford Hide, which proved very popular with the group. The Snipe were closer to observe, but amazingly three Kingfishers flitting back and forth, with one posing for photographs right in front of the hide.

We took a slight detour from the main Blue Trail and along the White Trail on the outer edge of the woods, here we would see Jays and a fleeting glimpse of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, both of which, we would get better views further along. We then cut off trail and headed through the majestic Scots Pines, here we would see Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit and the odd Coal Tit. Eventually we reached End Lake Platform. A Jay gave us some lovely close views.

Across the lake a Buzzard rested on a solitary pine tree in the warm morning sunlight. Over on Mere End, a Great Crested Grebe looking for a meal close to the remains of the burnt out Cyril Gibbons Hide. In the meadow by the visitor centre a Chiffchaff endlessly called in search of a mate.  Other birds of note on our circuit of the reserve were, Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Goldcrest and Treecreeper.

So it was time for a spot of lunch. With some 44 species logged on the reserve, well deserved and quite impressive. After lunch we headed off to Hesketh Out Marsh over looking the Ribble Estuary.

At the end of Dib Road we parked up and walked the short distance to what was the so called Bus Stop viewing shelter which is no longer with us after a storm. It is now basically a platform with a couple of benches from which to observe the salt marsh. 

On our way up to the shelter a Hen Harrier flew from the fields and out towards the Marsh. Also in the distance a small gathering of Whooper Swans which eventually moved along to pastures new. Two Avocets gave great viewing in the pool directly in front, with a number of Redshank, and one Black-tailed Godwit. A Peregrine Falcon flew from the outer Marsh and away over the farmland swooping down for a kill in the distance. Other birds of note on the Marsh were Oystercatchers, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Curlew.

Eventually the tide came and went, and a happy crew headed off home with some 62 species recorded along the way. 
 
As usual great company, some excellent banter and a good time had by all.

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Finally with a heavy heart I'm afraid to say, our recent somewhat frightening pandemic has prematurely cut our season short. Thank you all for your support, advice and company for season 2019/20.

I will plan our next seasons trips as usual, September through to May. Here's hoping we all stay healthy and safe. Hopefully all can return to normal very soon, and more birding adventures can be enjoyed as a group.
Thinking of you all.
Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

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