So I set off for Penny eager to try it all out, but when I got there I realised what an idiot I can be - I'd not done my usual battery check this morning and as I took a different bag I didn't have a spare battery. A perfect example of 'Sod's Law' (anything that can go wrong will do) then occurred when I found the battery in my camera to be absolutely flat. Undeterred, I put a smile on face thinking 'Oh well, I'll be able to concentrate on just looking at the birds then', something I do far too little of when I'm taking photographs.
I started at Horrocks Hide where I met Joe Wynne, a very keen and knowledgable 14 year old birder from Sale who I'd briefly met before last year. Joe posts quite frequently on the Manchester Birding Forum and so I knew his name from there. We chatted for quite a while whilst Joe helped me find the tiny Little Ringed Plover near the end of the Spit and identify the White Wagtail (although there is a lot of debate about whether this is a separate species).
From here I set off on my walk round all the hides, albeit in a slightly different order to my usual route. I called in at all of them (except for East Bay Hide) and met several friendly birders on the way. Chiffchaffs were singing everywhere I went but there was not much else new about until I returned to Horrocks Hide, when I got my first ever clear sighting of a Blackcap in the trees outside the hide. This was the only time I missed having my camera today - damn!
Back in the hide Joe was still there some two hours later, but he did say he'd been out and come back. There was also another couple of birders (a young lad and his Dad) who I'd nodded earlier at on my tour round. It turns out that the young man was James Hall, a name I'd also seen on the Forum, and for some reason he thought I was the great Ian McKerchar of Manchester Birding fame - I wondered why he was looking at me in awe!
Fortunately James didn't seem too upset when I told him I wasn't and that he probably knew more about birds than I did, something that he went on to prove later in our meeting. So James and his Dad, Joe and I all chatted together about birding for a good 25 minutes or, whilst James pointed out a Snipe in the distance and Joe mentioned that the Black-tailed Godwit were now in full breeding plumage.
I was very impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm shown by these two young men, I just wish I'd been so interested in at their age - they have a whole lifetime of birding ahead of them and I have such a lot of catching up to do over the next 30 or so years! Who says young people are all layabouts and yobs? These two certainly aren't and both are excellent role models for the youth of today.
No photographs today then (for reasons mentioned above) but here are the birds I saw :
- Little Ring Plover
- White Wagtail
- Black-tailed Godwits
- Great Crested Grebes
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Plus all the usual suspects