The Safari might have named this post 'A bitter wind' as it was precisely that, strong and bitter more like mid winter than the beginnings of spring.
We went to the estuary as planned for the high tide and arrived just on the ebb. We found somewhere out of the wind and set up the scope and started to 'work' the marshes. Hoping we'd bump into the Hen Harrier sooner rather than later we quickly found a Buzzard flying upriver. But that was it for big raptors. Enjoying the large number of Little Egrets and Shelducks, checking anything white for Avocets which we didn't find; the family of Whooper Swans still out there were obviously too big and too white. No Great White Egrets or Spoonbills either :-(
The only other raptors we saw were a male and a female Kestrel. The female skimmed the marsh grasses as if trying to flush the Skylarks or Starlings like a Merlin but was uninterested when it did. The male opted for a different strategy perching on a post despite the wind and dropping onto small prey items, probably invertebrates.
A Skylark sang a couple of times and we heard are first Lapwing 'song'of the year but it was bone crunchlingly cold out there.
Still some Pink Footed Geese hanging around on the far side of the river and lots of Wigeon, Redshanks and Curlews on ourside.
With no Hen Harrier joy we decided to mpve on to the nature reserve. Mistake...if it was cold on the marsh the hide was like a fridge with a howling gale racing through it.
We didn't see much and nothing out of the ordinary but to be fair we didn't try too hard and only looked from the one hide other than having a few minutes in the Land Rover in the corner checking over the small number of small gulls, all were Black Headed Gulls apart from a handful of Common Gulls.
We did count over 30 Shovelers, more may well have been sheltering deeper in the reeds as that's were the majority were. A single Goldeneye, five male and three female Gadwall, one of the females had weed or string caught round a foot and wasn't at all happy about it but every time she took to the air to try to shake it off she drew some unwelcome attention from the gulls.
After the nature reserve we went to a farmland site nearby where the Fylde Bird Club have a small feeding station. It looked seedless on arrival but that was because the wind had blown the seed off the 'table'. Tree Sparrows were the intended quarry but when we arrived there were only a pair of Dunnocks on the seed.
We waited a good while for a Robin to appear. Getting worried we'd miss the Tree Sparrows like we'd missed the Hen Harrier earlier we almost left too soon.
Phew, about a dozen turned up (120).
Aren't they bonny...and they shouldn't be so scarce. Have you asked your MEP to support sensible and wildlife friendly CAP reforms this week, if not please do, the more of us who badger them the more they'll realise people out there care about the future of our wildlife. Get typing there's only two days left!Where to next? A freezing Patch 2 probably.
In the meantime let us know if you see the comet over your outback