New year birding in Lancashire

On the 2nd of January, me and my mum travelled to Lancashire.  We started off at WWT Martin Mere near Southport.  In the first hide we went to there were thousands of wildfowl.  The vast majority were made up of ducks including Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Shelduck and good numbers of Pintail.   We also had close up views of Whooper Swans and a few had colour rings.  There were also many Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit feeding close up.  It was really interesting to see the plumage and size variation on the Ruff as they are not a species we see very often.  

We then walked around the reedbed and didn’t see much but we did hear a Cetti’s Warbler.  From the next hide we went into we saw a pair of Mistle Thrush feeding, Meadow Pipit, Pink-footed Geese and Skylark flying over and I also saw a Kingfisher briefly fly out of the reeds.  

We also witnessed feeding time at the reserve in the evening which was amazing to see.  Basically all the birds on the mere came in to feed on the grain, and I was very surprised to see Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit feeding on this.  We received information that a Tawny Owl was roosting in an owl box which we managed to get good views of.  My first films of a Tawny!

Our accommodation was relatively close to Silverdale and Leighton Moss so we decided to spend the day there.  We started the day on the Silverdale shoreline, where there were numerous Redshank and Curlew with a few Dunlin dotted around too.  There wasn’t much on the sea but there were a pair of Wigeon and the highlight was a pair of Red-breasted Merganser flying past.

We had read articles about walks in Silverdale where Hawfinches and Green Woodpeckers could be seen.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any Hawfinches or Green Woodpeckers, though there were loads of ant hills!  Despite that, we did see plenty of Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch and Bullfinch.  

We finished in Silverdale at around 10 o’clock and then went to Leighton Moss.  The first few hides we went to weren’t very productive with the only notable species being a group of Snipe and several Pintail. However, we managed to make up for the lack of species seen in the next hide where almost as soon as we stepped in, a Bittern flew straight over!  There was also a pair of  Marsh Harriers quartering the reeds.  On the paths around the reserve, we saw several Marsh Tits  and lots of very tame Robins!  In the next hide we went to, we saw the Bittern again, this time in the reeds where it was much harder to see, and there was also a Great White Egret.

At around 4:00 o’clock we went back to the main hide to see the Starling murmuration. Apparently it had been seen but was quite unpredictable in where on the reserve it would be.  We did see lots of large groups of Starlings, enough to murmurate, but they didn’t really fly together and went straight down to roost.  It seems that murmurating Starlings always evade us! Overall, it was a successful trip with some really good species seen.