Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Grange-Over Sands holiday Day 3

After almost three weeks, it decided to rain. It was a pity it had to be today, when we were on holiday and not when I was tuck at home revising. However, because of the rain my family decided that they would go to a naval museaum in Barrow, but said I could get the train to leighton moss if I wanted, because there is a train station close to the reserve.
I Arrived at Silverdale station and checked a map to see which direction would lead me to the reserve. I luckily chose the right way, as i dont remeber a golf course or a train line anywhere near the reserve from last time. Right away upon entering the car park, often filled with phesants, but none this time. There was however a Willow tit on one of the peanut feeders, which was a great start.

-Willow Tit
I got into the reserve and went staright to the big first hide, Lilian's, mainly because it has heating. I got in and began to take record shots of all the birds there, before having a scan across the reedbeds, that diddnt produce much else.

-Common Teal

-Dabchick/Little Grebe

-Tufted Duck
There was also an assortment of black-headed gulls and mallards. I stuck around for a while to see what would show up, and I was not dissapointed. I was watching the reedbeds when I overheard somebody mention snow goose, and at the same time a white bird emerged from the reedbed and began to fly above it, but some way off. I couldn't beleive it. I managed a few shots as it flew over towards the other hides, public and lower, before dipping below the reeds.

-Snow Goose
Excited I headed off towards that section of the reserve to see if I could catch up with it. On the way there i had a look at the feeders and was rewarded with views of a bullfinch pair

Heading down the causeway I was hearing wierd noises from the reedbed, but could only find coots and graylag geese, which were quite abundant. I also managed to find my first swallow of the year!

On my way down the causeway i spotted the snow goose flying away, back to where it came. Gutted I enetred public hide to see what was going on in there. I found some other wildfowl, including my first pochard of the year and a goldeneye pair fishing at the back of the lake.

I also spotted my first marsh harrier of the day in that hide, but it diddnt stick around for a photo. So I left Public hide to see what was at lower hide. To this day, lower hide has been the poorest hide on the reserve, however that diddnt mean that it wasnt worth a look. Just past public hide there was a as small river, where there was a heron fishing.

-Grey Heron
There were other birds as I made my way down the causeway, like lapwings, but I still could'nt find any trace of the snow goose, so i reckoned that it must be in one of the lakes that wasnt visable from the hides. I had it confirmed in public hide that it was a snow goose from my photo by some other birder. The conversation was prompted by somebody asking what the large white bird that he had seen flying round that area earlier could have been, a snow goose apparently!

Off the footpath and walking down through the woods to lower hide produced a chiffchaff singing and a blackcap also singing

Lower hide wasn't great, but did have some nice things, such as a wren singing outside. It also had a pair of grebes doing a courtship dance in the background, and lots of teals in the foreground. There was also a marsh harrier seemingly hunting some greylag geese, which, if it was, failed to catch any.

On my way back I called in at public hide again to see if there was anything going on. I noticed that one of the grebes I had seen dancing at lower hide had come to rest on one of the islands quite close to the public hide, so i could get a record shot for the day.

-Great crested grebes
Back on the causeway and once more there were plenty of marsh harriers to keep me interested, but the photos of marsh harriers from the day will come up later. It was however another raptor that caught my attention, in a buzzard that was flying high above.

At the top of the causeway A deer ran out infront of me, but I wasnt quick enough with my camera to get a photo of the deer, instead I had to make do with a photo of its leg, not included for obviouse reasons.

Back at Lilians hide I sat down to have my lunch, and see if the snow goose would make a re-appearance. I was enetrtained, in the days only breif sunshine window, by a heron hunting in front of the hide. It then took off and flew right in front of us, offering me a great chance to get some photos.

-Grey Heron
Most of lunch was spent watching marsh harriers in the distance, while otherbirders argued wether or not they were male, female or buzzards. In the meantime I spotted another species of wildfowl drop in the shape of a gadwall pair

i was just wrapping up with my lunch when the goose re-appeared and once more went over towards public hide. So once more I followed suit. I noted that it had gone down to the small narrow waterway that i had spotted a grey heron in earlier. I also noted the prescence of a dark cloud mass coming in, and assessed that during the walk it was very likely I would get heavily rained on. It was a risk worth taking.

And as i walked down the causeway I spotted a marsh harrier that was actually worth attempting to a take a photo off. It was a good thing I did, because they came out well. Possibly my new favoiurite marsh harrier photos

-Marsh Harrier
I reached the area where I reckoned the goose was, and was dissapointed to notfind it there. I took a photo of the waterway though, and it just goes to show how dark it was under the cloud.

-Waterway under a dark cloud
On the way back up the causeway I spotted a marsh tit in the flooded woody bit at the top, and it allowed me to get my best ever marsh tit photos.

-Marsh Tit
I made my way all the way to Griesdale hide at the other end of the reserve for a look at what was there. I just made it in time before the heavens finally opened. The poor birds all looked pretty miserable in the rain!

I had a look around and spotted another couple of wildfowl species for the day in wigeon and shoveler, a well as teal. The wigeon were well at the back under a tree, but the shoveler were quite bold and tame and were swimming around in front of the hide readily.


I was just about to leave to make sure i got my train back, when a guy next to me with a big camera suddenly spotted a bittern right out in the open on the reedbed on the far side. It was the best view of a bittern I have ever had, but at the point of maximum viewing, as it were, I opted to watch it instead of photograph it. I did, however, give me agreat view of a bittern

I called in at the main hide as I had a bit of time, and was rewarded by some birders noting that some small dots in the distance were sandmartins, and that one brighter white blob was an early house martin, which was very nice. I recorded all my first hirundines of the year in the same day.

I stopped off at the birdfeeding station on my way to the station just for a quick look. I was rewarded with great views of a male bullfinch, plus a baby rabbit and a couple of female phesants. Which was a nice ending to the day.


So ends the day for then, and i made it to my train, in the rain, and made it to grnage and got a lift back from a succesful day.

N.B There was always a nagging doubt about said snow goose. It just seemed too good to be true, and lo and behold, on birdguides it is regarded as an escape, so it is not my new tick for the holiday. Pity really, as it was quite nice to see.

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