Today I finally got to Marshside RSPB reserve in Southport - not the best time to go perhaps but at least I got there. At first I was a little disappointed with the birds I saw, but later I was quite satisfied. I combined the trip with taking Sarah and Cathy shopping down Lord's Street in Southport whilst I nipped off for a spot of birding. What a good idea that was!
I started by parking at the sand works car park and walking across the road to the first viewing area. Here I saw mainly gulls and Mallard, but there was a white Little Egret in distant view for a while. I thought I'd walk up to Nell's Hide and get a better view of the Egret on the way, but unfortunately the next viewing point was too far past it.
I'd been told there were good views of the Avocets nesting with their young at Nell's Hide earlier in the year - not surprisingly they were no longer there today, but I wasn't expecting to see them. All I could see today were four Mallard which all looked liked females and some wood pigeons. Later a few Lapwing landed with what I think were some starlings amongst them. There were also some good views of blue dragonflies.
From Nell's Hide I walked back along the path to the Soundgrounder's Hide, stopping briefly at the first two viewing points to have another look - nothing there though There were swallows along the way and I when I got close to Sandgrounders I could see a large flock of birds standing in the shallow water in front of the hide. A quick look through the binoculars revealed them to be Black-Tailed Godwit with a few gulls mixed in. This was the biggest flock of Godwit I ever seen and I was very impressed.
I carried on to the RSPB Hide and met two guys in there who told me lots of things about the birds in the area, including the fact that the male Mallard were now in 'eclipse' (moulting) and so looked quite like females and couldn't fly whilst their feathers were renewed. This explained why I thought the Mallard I saw at Nell's hide seemed to be four females - there were probably two males and two females.
Whilst I was in the hide the guys got quite excited by a Sparrowhawk that had flushed some of the birds and which was chasing something in the distance, but I didn't actually see it. I did however, get a good view of a Common Sandpiper though and two Black-Tailed Godwit which came very close to the front of the hide, but my photos are not too sharp for some reason - it maybe due to the cheap filter I've bought for my large zoom lens - I think I might remove it in future.
After meeting back up with Sarah and Cathy, I had an ice cream and we went for a nice walk along the pier. I took a few pictures of gulls on the beach, a row of starlings and the mass of mute swans and coot on the inland lake (does it have a name?) All in all a great day out and thoroughly recommended.
Pictures to follow....