With the clocks going back, trying to get any midweek birding in is an absolute nightmare at this time of year. However I managed a brief post work visit to the patch on Friday arriving just before 4pm (which didn't really give me a great deal of time, but just enough to get a birding fix). Dusk is one of my favourite times to visit the patch, especially in the winter months with the prospect of roosting raptors, owls and egrets.
In the rapidly deteriorating light I decided to head to Town Lane bridge, rather than my normal (preferred) option of Within Way. I could immediately hear a Water Pipit buzzing around with a couple of Meadow Pipit. A Kingfisher buzzed along Ramsbrook, whilst the fields along Within Way held at least 300 Fieldfare. Scanning the Marsh I picked up 2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Buzzard (including the very pale morph bird).
The Town Lane flood held a few Eurasian Teal and a single Common Snipe, whilst the fields held 3 Mute Swan (surprisingly still a relatively scarce patch bird). Turning my attentions swiftly back to Hale Marsh I picked up a smart female Merlin. 10's of Cormorants continued to head towards the decoy roost, but amazingly I didn't see a single Egret?! Continuing to scan the Marsh I eventually picked out a distant Short Eared Owl. However by now the light was pretty bad and with the street lights coming on it made scanning the Marsh close to impossible.
Heading round to Carr Lane for the last embers of light I was almost decapitated by a Woodcock as I stepped out of the car. It did 2 loops around my head before it headed out onto the wet areas around Carr Lane Pools. A Barn Owl was hunting the rough area before the first house, whilst at least 2 Water Rail screeched from the remnants of the Ibis Pool. A couple of late Reed Buntings dropped into the reeds, and a few Common Snipe came squelching out of Carr Lane Pools. Before heading home I decided to drop into Within Way, where the Little Owl was yelping away and a few more Common Snipe could be heard in the darkness. My final detour took in Hale Park where a Tawny Owl was hooting away......maybe with a few more carrots I'll be able to stay out all night! All in all, not a bad dusk session and with colder weather on the way hopefully we may get a few more goodies to add to the regulars.