Nine of us gathered for the first outing of the year, and were joined by two more on arrival at Marshside. Although cold, the weather was kind to us. Pink-footed Geese greeted our arrival in the car park, and our only Oystercatchers of the day were seen over the marsh heading west. It was high tide, and perfect visibility allowed great views of the clouds of waders forming and reforming over Southport beach. They almost certainly included thousands of Knot, but were too far away to identify.
Our first stop, where both Greylag and Canada were picked out amongst the Pinkfeet. Wigeon, Shelduck, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler and Mallard were all noted, and a few Curlew were identified out among the Lapwing.
We added Tufted Duck to the list, and picked out a female Peregrine on the salt marsh. A Sparrowhawk was glimpsed along the hedge line.
Overlooked wader central, with several species resting on the marsh over the high tide period.
Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, a few Golden Plover and a single Dunlin. Half a dozen Gadwall were added to our already lengthy wildfowl list, and groups of Pinkfeet decorated the background. We returned to Sandgrounders Hide for lunch, and were able to see goups of Golden Plover in the fields to the rear of the marsh.
Hesketh Out Marsh
On then to Hesketh Out Marsh, a first visit to this new RSPB site for all of us. A group of 50 Whooper Swans in an adjacent stubble field caused us to hesitate until it was realised that their bills were stained with mud. Passerines were more in evidence at this site, and Chaffinch, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and a male Reed Bunting all made their way onto our list. Another Peregrine was seen, before a raptor with upraised, grey-panelled wings gave us pause for thought. It resolved itself into a male Marsh Harrier, our last and 45th species of the trip.