Thursday, December 26, 2013

Festive Birding

As with most of the country over the Christmas period, with the exception of the day itself, the weather here on the north-west coast has been abysmal, with strong winds and torrential rain the order of the day! With family commitments too, this has resulted in very little birding time over the festive period.

Whooper Swan 
However, Dee and I have managed a couple of outings. Firstly, a few hours at WWT Martin Mere on route to Liverpool on Tuesday and with the winds still gale force, accompanied by torrential downfalls, the birding was certainly a challenge.

Whooper Swan battling the strong winds!
One of the highlights here over the winter period are the thousands of wildfowl on the reserve and of course the hundreds of Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese that reside in the area over the period.

During our stay we managed most of the hides and a good number of the compounds. Wildfowl and Wetland reserves are not everyone's cup of tea, but Dee and I are life long members and always enjoy our visits, what better place to get close up and personal with some of the worlds rarer wildfowl species.

Asian Otter at feeding time.
One of the treats of the day was getting a personal one to one with the wardens who look after the Asian Otters and we had a good chat at feeding time, a meal of fresh mussels. The Asian is the smallest otter species in the world and are also the least aquatic of all the 13 species of otter, fascinating creatures. The oriental small-clawed otter lives in extended family groups with only the alpha pair breeding; offspring from previous years help to raise the young. Due to ongoing habitat loss, pollution, and hunting in some areas, the oriental small-clawed otter is evaluated as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Oriental small-clawed Otter
After the otters a final look at the wetlands provided good views of Peregrine hunting and decent numbers of Wigeon and Pintail.

Pintail in good numbers
Today a few fascinating hours spent around the Wyre Estuary and Skippool Creek. With the tide out the estuary provided decent numbers of Shelduck, Redshank, Curlew and the odd Little Egret and Bar-tailed Godwit, Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Unfortunately, we never managed to connect with a reported 21 Twite, seen a few days previous. A quick look at the Blackpool sea front near the go cart track provided our annual Purple Sandpiper, when at least a single bird was in among the many roosting Redshank and Turnstone along the sea wall. A few Scoter Sp. were also out to sea, but without the aid of my scope I'd have to call common.