Early morning start for myself and Shaun down at Burton Marsh. Arriving at 7am we walked the tarmac path towards Burton Point. It was cool and cloudy with a fair breeze blowing and not much was about. 1st bird spotted was a Blackwit flying over and then a couple of Little Egrets. Some Black Headed Gulls were feeding near the manure pile by Burton Marsh Farm along with a couple of Carrion Crows. Just then the cronking of a Raven alerted us to its presence as it sailed overhead, a truly awesome bird!
Up near to the M.O.D shooting area we spotted a couple of Stock Doves in an old building and then I spotted a female Merlin out on a white marker post on the marsh. She soon flew fast and low over the banks into the range and flushed some small pipits, but had no luck with a kill. Out on the marsh a few Teal and a lone Mute Swan looked very lonely. A quick scan of the sandstone facade was fruitless in the search for the Little Owls, oh well plenty of time this year for success. A blackbird and a few Linnets were the only small birds around in the gorse bushes. On the way back Shaun spotted a Marsh Harrier being mobbed by a Crow, a very pale bird. Next to the cattle grid by the big reedbed Shaun took this picture of a nice Male Reed Bunting who was heard calling.
Most of the tide wrack has been shifted from the farm side out onto the marsh and three or four Wheatears were now in view, great to have them back. Here's a nice male perched on a rotten log that I phonescoped :) Can't wait for later this month when Reed, Sedge & Grasshopper Warblers return along with Whinchat.
The weather was closing in and starting to rain as forecast so we opted for a quick trip up to Leasowe Lighthouse to see if we could spot an Ouzel. On arrival the tide was well out but the usual Turnstones and Redshank were feeding not far from the front keeping away from the fisherman who were digging for lugworm bait. Yesterday had seen an Osprey and a Glaucous Gull, but alas no such delights today :(
Walking down Lingham Lane towards the fisheries was good, we saw Blue Tit, Gt Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Mistle Thrush & Song Thrush and lots of noisy House Sparrows. Shaun got this great shot of a bird in mid flight just after launch :)
By the bridge over the river we scanned for any white banded blackbirds, without success, but there were plenty of Greenfinches
and Linnets and quite a few Collared Doves, including one in a hedge not very well concealed sat on nest!! Walking the lane past the fisheries I spotted a pair of Blackcaps (male & fem) they were both picking through the flowering buds & probing for insects.
We stopped to have a chat with Dave (local birder) who told us he had found the female Ring Ouzel yesterday up by the golf driving range, but had not seen it today. He advised the one at Red Rocks was still showing today. Never mind, will find one day! A few other birders reported it was quiet, apart from an early Swallow that flew through, not much to report on migrant front.
A quick walk back past the lighthouse produced a pair of Dunnocks wing flicking and a cock Pheasant calling from the nearby field. Skylarks were all around us and singing away very happily. Both hungry, it was time to head back as the rain was getting worse.
Thanks for reading and watch out for my Norfolk blog next week when myself Shaun & Paul will be venturing to North Norfolk next Thu/Fri.
Shaun Hickey (Photography)