The Safari didn't twitch the Preston Smew today but chose instead to have a fullish day on the nature reserve, and by eck are we glad we did!
There was a weird mist over much of the frozen mere more or less all day and the cloud never parted to reveal the sun but as it wasn't windy it was very pleasant to be out and about.
Bunking in to the first hide we met up with a crew from the Chorley Natural History Society on a day out. After a bit of friendly chat one of the ladies noticed a Bittern on the ice right at the edge of the reedbed, an excellent start to the day.
shortly afterwards what was almost definitely a second Bittern flew over the reeds in front of us, this one had much more gingery secondary coverts.
Several trawls through the gulls gave us nothing heart stopping, a single adult Lesser Black Back was top of the tree. talking of tree-tops there was no sign of the four Waxwings we dipped yesterday afternoon
A good selection of waterfowl included a drake Pintail, pretty scarce here, along with two drake Gadwall and a count of exactly 100 Wigeon. Teal were numerous again with about the same as yesterday, 500 or so.
Like Wigeon there were more Shoveler today, 29, but no increase on the two drake Goldeneyes. For some reason we didn't count the Tufted Ducks or Pochards, which was naughty, still no sign of the Ring Necked Duck - it's deffo gone AWOL. 73 Mallards (including the white 'domestic' one) and 64 Coot hit the notebook, as did a poor showing of only two Water Rails.
A couple of curcuits gave us just one Sparrowhawk, the Buzzard that looks like a giant Ring Ouzel and a pair of Kestrels in the raptor line. Passerines were represented by a plethora of Blackbirds, a couple of Mistle Thrushes, and singles of Redwing and Song Thrush, near the bridge a Cetti's Warbler shouted a bit of sub-song while behind him on the wires eventually the flock of 250ish Linnets appeared - where had they been hiding all day?
The Feeding Station gave us stonking views of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, at least two others were seen too, with a supporting cast of more Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits than you could shake a stick at, five Tree Sparrows.
Whilst grilling the gulls from the other side we heard, but couldn't locate, a Curlew going over westwards. Also wadery was a fly-over Woodcock flushed from somewhere by something and 41 Lapwings were in the fields to the east, as was only one Stock Dove today.
We took three parties round to see the Long Eared Owls, getting three on the first two visits and then finding the 'missing' three on the final visit as well as getting a better pic than yesterday.A splendid day in the field...and now back to that Bittern...oh boy did it perform!!!