Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Little Woolden Moss

Even though my main camera and lens is currently at Fixation in London being serviced, I had to get out today to take some photographs.  Apologies for the quality of these images.

Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and juvenile Little Ringed Plover at Little Woolden Moss

I had a good morning and early afternoon out on Little Woolden Moss today, mainly in search of the Wood Sandpiper which had eluded me on my previous visit to Croxdens Pools a mile or so away.  I started walking from Moss Lane at the Culcheth end of the moss and soon decided that this was a mistake, especially as I picked the longer of the two possible routes (the footpath which partly follows the Timberland Trail along the River Glaze) onto the moss. Some of the footpaths as marked on my OS map have been moved slightly due to the peat works and in parts the route through the trees is unclear.  On my walk to the hide I saw a Buzzard, a Kestrel in the trees and many Mallards and Canada Geese on the banks of the Glaze which took to the air 'en masse' as I approached.  There were also plenty of pigeons and doves about.

Wood Sandpiper - a lifer!

I eventually made it to the hide and immediately saw a stunning female Wheatear - so, a great start, but the only trouble was that there was absolutely nothing else here. So I left the hide and walked along the gravel footpath and soon came across David Steel and a couple of other birders, one of whom I had met only recently looking for the Wood Sandpiper at Croxdens. It seems that bird had now flown here and was quite settled having been here for over a week.

Wood Sandpiper

David soon put me on to the Wood Sandpiper and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover. There were also three rather smart looking Ruff. several juvenile Pied Wagtails,  a Meadow Pipit and several immature Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A little later a Sparrowhawk flew quickly past us, flushing some of the Gulls and apparently being chased by two Pied Wagtails.


After David left to continue on his walk, a juvenile Peregrine Falcon landed on the peat behind the Gulls. It spent sometime looking round it before eventually taking off, flushing all the birds on the pool and flying past me and back round in a circle. Then something surprising happened.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon bathing

I thought it had flown off but to my amazement I found it a few minutes later bathing at the edge of the main pool - this is something I've never seen a Peregrine do before.  I tried my best to get some record shots of it bathing, but when I tried to do some video I was so bothered by a couple of horseflies that kept landing on my camera that I couldn't concentrate on doing it before the Peregrine flew off.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon bathing

Shortly after the Peregrine flew off I was joined by a couple from Stockport who'd I'd first met looking at the recent Sabine's Gull at Pennington Flash.  We had a good natter about all sorts of things before noticing that the sky had very quickly turned dark black and a thunderstorm was imminent. I told them about the hide a little further up the path and we beat a hasty retreat to it before the heavens opened. And 'open' they did - wind, heavy rain, thunder, lightning and hailstones.  The hide might not be in particularly good condition or in a good position, but at least it's dry inside!

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon bathing
After around 15 minutes in the hide, waiting for the rain to stop and seeing nothing but one Pied Wagtail, we ventured outside again.  It was still drizzling a bit, but we kept walking to have another look at the Wood Sandpiper and Ruff which by now had both come their closest to the path. We took some photos and said our farewells - I took the path around the peat to go back to my car the way I should have come in the first place.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon bathing
I met David Steel again on the way back while he was scoping a juvenile Peregrine on a kill which he kindly pointed out to me. As it stripped the feathers and began to eat, David thought that it might have been a Wheatear that had met it's unfortunate end. The Peregrine was probably the one I had seen earlier and as it didn't seem to have any tags on it, it probably wasn't one of our local Leigh birds as I first thought it might be.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon

I left David as he was walking across the peat to pick some of the feathers from the kill after the Peregrine had flown -  he wanted to know what it had been eating. The route back to the car was much better although I did cop for another heavy downpour with nowhere to hide except a feeble little birch tree which was of no use.  Although drenched, I was still very happy to have connected with another lifer, the Wood Sandpiper and I had a very pleasant trip out with some nice people.

Assorted Gulls