Sunday 18 September 2016

Vizmigging across the Universe

With light southerlies forecast (the best conditions for vizmig on patch) I decided to head out early to see whether I could change my recent fortunes; 50 days and counting since my last patch year tick! The harvest moon was still high in the sky when I left home, and it felt pretty damn cold the (air temperature was only 6 degrees).

A few stops driving down Carr Lane produced a yelping Little Owl near to Burnt Mill Farm, and a small group of Black Tailed GodwitCommon Snipe and Eurasian Teal on the flooded field. Low lying mist hung over the fields, and the sky was an amazing pastel colour as I arrived at Lighthouse Lane. The moon was still like a beacon in the sky, and birds were already beginning to move.

Over the next two hours I logged 213 Goldfinch, 164 Linnet, 30 Chaffinch, 1 Bullfinch, 112 Skylark, 87 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, 12 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Siskin, 1 Redpoll sp, 15 Jay, 16 Swallow and 2 House Martin. Not the greatest variety, but fun none the less. The Lighthouse garden had a steady stream of visitors as well with c.7 Goldcrest, 4 Chiffchaff among Coal, Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tit. A Sparrowhawk was causing havoc among the finch flocks around the Lighthouse garden throughout my vigil, whilst Grey Partridge had finally started to emerge from their hiding places and gained a little more confidence by feeding out in the open.

It wasn't all vizmig though, and a few scans of Frodsham Score resulted in 2 Marsh Harrier (a female and presumed juvenile bird). There were good numbers of duck moving through as well with large flocks of Wigeon, Eurasian Teal and a few small parties of Pintail. I also picked up my first Pink Footed Geese of the winter period with 5 flying west over the Score. The best part however was the Egrets, with at least 4 Great White Egret and 29 Little Egret feeding across the marsh. The Egrets were quite mobile, and I felt there may well have been a 5th bird however I wasn't able to confirm (however the WeBS count later did).

With vizmig quietening down I headed round to Pickerings Pasture to meet up with Iggy to have a hunt for some migrants; however I couldn't drive past without a quick look at Town Lane. The Pools were still relatively quiet, but the Egyptian Goose had reappeared whilst 7 Ruff, 6 Black Tailed Godwit and 9 Common Snipe were feeding across the area. 6 Wigeon had joined the Eurasian Teal throng, and glinted in the early morning sunshine. A Kingfisher was calling from Ramsbrook on Hale Marsh, whilst small numbers of Skylark and Meadow Pipit were still on the move.

Joining Iggy we had a wander around some of the sun traps of Pickerings Pasture, hoping that something decent may pop out. The hedgerow down to the Mersey held at least 3 Bullfinch and a Blackcap, but very little else. The quieter areas produced a single Garden Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 7 Chiffchaff and a single Willow Warbler; slow going but it could be worse I suppose. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over, whilst a few Grey Wagtail were on the move. A check of the industrial wasteland produced a few more Grey Wagtail, 3 Whitethroat and a couple more Blackcap, but it clearly wasn't going to be a migrant day!

Heading home via Town Lane I called in briefly at the bridge, where I was pleasantly surprised to find a smart female Merlin sunning herself in the warm sunshine; hopefully the first of many again this winter. There was little else of note on the pools, and still no sign of any Pectoral Sandpipers. With a little overnight rain forecast hopefully a few more bits will be forced down onto the patch before I have to go back to work.......

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