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Friday, 31 December 2010

The Wizard of Newton Marsh

It was grey overcast and generally miserable, but time to get out of the house. For the past two years I have been convinced of sightings of a Merlin down at Newton Marsh but it has always been a glimpse here and there or at the extreme limit of any optics I might have with me. Finally in the right place at the right time as it flew in across the marsh and landed on a fence post in front of me. I took a couple of photos through the windscreen, hence the 'blue' cast to the image as I thought it may be the only opportunity for a photo. Thankfully it dropped off the post, flew across the road in front of me and landed on the opposite fence posts. Sadly it was just too far away and at the limit of the cameras ability and I didn't want to spook it. It sat for a few minutes and gave good views thorugh the bins before taking off and flying back off over the marsh.

The Wigeon have returned with a small flock of about 60 with the usual suspects, small numbers of Mallard (12) Teal (20ish) and Shoveler (3 males) while around 30 Shelduck flew over north.

I went on to Lytham and again at the end of my optics clocked about 50 Pintail on the foreshore while skeins of Pink Footed Geese were making their way north. At Fairhaven three male Tufted Ducks were making the most of limited open water and on the way home I was fortunate to come close to a Jay, which in the poor light, constantly on the move, proved very difficult to follow, focus upon and then take any photo but I managed these two.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

That was 2010 that was, Part 2

I thought this was going to be one line on each month.... not quite turning out that way!

In early March I spent days and hours looking for and photographing a Barn Owl that I knew was about, photographed a number of mad March Hares a pair of mating/breeding Kestrels, a pair of Gadwall on Newton Marsh that were 'timid' and stayed well out of the way, while large numbers of Wigeon were also present and caught up with some Whooper Swan near Warton. Two pair of Mute Swan became territorial and I watched a pair for over an hour in serious combat. While down at Lytham a tyre washed up on the beach. The Ring-necked Parakeets were still around at Lytham Crematorium. Grey Partridge were seen at one location. Fieldfare were still around and I came across a single bird, all alone feeding on Lancaster Road.

I called in at Bradshaw Lane a few times and I am fairly sure a Merlin (reinforced from my poor record photos) was on site using the dyle and ditches as an ambush strategy. A raptor pursued a Skylark high into the sky. Goldeneye were at Pilling but I was there at the wrong time and only record photos.

Hundreds of Pink-footed Geese filled the sky at Pilling while the sun set over the wind farm off Fleetwood... and I'm only at the start of March 2010!

That was 2010 that was Part 1

It's that time of the year so I thought I'd have a quick look through some old files... I can't belive what I have not included and the year in general, all a bit of a mixed bag and very enjoyable, but for me generally annus horribilis, be as it may...

January began with a close encounter of a Short Eared Owl that entertained me for best part of 25 minutes before deciding it was time to go a hunting.

Around the same time I had come across some pellets whci I now believe to belong to a Barn Owl and spent some time taking apart and what appear to be a voles.

I spent nearly two hours stood like a scarecrow in the snow, in a dung heap! to win the trust of a Meadow Pipit and Robin; I came across a couple of Jays at Lea Town and had a Pied Wagtail and Great Spotted Woodpecker as regular garden visitors. While out at Clifton I came a cross a small mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwing but could manage no more than a record shot. 

This was going to be one or at most two posts, but I can see I'm running into trouble even now! So bear with me.

Come February and a female Bullfinch was a pleasant sight on the Honeysuckle seeds I had left over-winter. Over at Knott End I was in the right place at the right time to photograph the Twite on the Esplanade; while I picked up a Rock Pipit near the Bourne Arms. There were quite a few Eiders on the Sea,  with Turnstone, Knot, Redshank and other waders and Gulls on the foreshore and a Mistle Thrush in Knott End. A field of Pink-Footed Geese on the way home. It was also a day for two coats and three pairs of gloves! The welders must have been busy!

A few days later and about fifty Curlew were on Newton Marsh with a number of Wigeon and Teal along with the local Shoveler, Moorhen, Coot and other regulars. Three Goosander made an appearance on the local water course, while on a trip to Fairhaven the light inspired into a Sepia image of the local farmland.

We've all heard of March hares, but my first mating pair were on 16 February. I wouldn't like to put too much money on it, but I have a record shot of what looks like a Merlin down on Newton Marsh, while over at Lodge Lane a flock of Whooper Swans with a few Bewicks and about 30 Greylag Geese were found – better images to follow.

The wide open space of Morcambe Bay never ceases to amaze me... and then we were into March and time for another post methinks.

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Friday, 24 December 2010

Newton Marsh, Shoveler and Teal

I am afraid I have been one of the casualties of the winter season of flu and chest infections etc.

At the beginning of December, just before it snowed I had lunch down at a very quiet Newton Marsh, which being frozen over had little to show. However the ditch as you enter had a small patch of open water where a few Shoveler and Teal had congregated. Shoveler always make me laugh as they appear to be 'work in progresss' and I guess Platypus come to mind for obvious reasons. I've included a couple of (poor) Teal photos as the females in particular when viewed against and in the context of the reflective mud demonstrate their camouflage and the males made me wonder about the moiré effect and if this confuses raptors.

WARNING, upon leaving and joining the A584 there was a car wrapped around the traffic lights. Fortunately nobody badly hurt, but I have had several 'close encounters' with cars simply running through the (red) lights and a VW with burning rubber as it ran across the junction on full lock-up! Do be careful at this junction, green light or not, go slowly and look both ways at all times. I understand Lancashire County Council will be introducing new traffic calming measures but that may be some time.

Enjoy Xmas and Best Wishes to all for 2011.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

A few hares

I thought it better not to post these on the day but wanted to keep a record so doing so now, several months later... shame bout fences.