These sightings are 2010 highlights from regular birders and cover the whole of the Ribble Estuary Nature Reserves. Many are from Hesketh Out Marsh which has has produced some most rewarding experiences considering the reserve has only been in existed as a salt marsh since the outer sea-wall was breached just over 2 years ago.
First from our ex-warden -
Bittern, Great White Egret, White Stork, Crane, Spoonbills, Long-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Green-winged Teal, top goose action, 90+ Bewick's Swans, 12 Short-eared Owls, 4 Hen Harriers, 7 Merlins, Honey Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Richard's Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtails, 450 White Wagtails, Lapland Buntings, 55 Bramblings, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Sandwich terns, Arctic Terns, Waxwings, breeding Avocets, Curlew, Med Gulls & Eiders - all mega but my Ribble bird of the year 2010 was this Woodchat Shrike on private land near Longton Marsh on 20th May.
For another watcher a Bittern on Crossens Outer Marsh back in January was the highlight of 2010.
Many Happy Birding Hours in 2011.
Between 8.15 - 9.35 this morning although the weather was a bit grim the birding was good. A single Lapland Bunting was with the Linnet flock of c.300 in the bird seed mix field. Also there, 17 Reed Buntings, 55 Bramblings and 25 Tree Sparrows. There was plenty of raptor activity with the magnificent seven on the wing; 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel, 5 Merlins, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, a juvenile Marsh Harrier and 2 ring-tail Hen Harriers. 17 Pheasants were feasting on the bird food that's been spread about.
An an almost verbatim report from our ex.Warden.
"Late this afternoon I had an excuse to drive from Southport the long way home via the Marsh, it was well tidy; in the wild bird cover I saw - c.450 Linnets, 30 Bramblings, 25 Chaffinches, 12 Corn Buntings, 1 Reed Bunting & 3 Lapland Buntings. A Sparrowhawk zoomed through a flushed everything - 2 of the Lappies flew off calling in the direction of HOM east. 10 minutes later a female showed well with the Corn Buntings in the Hawthorn hedge behind the pond - it also showed well on the ground. The Sparrowhawk was one of the sexy six, the other five being; Peregrine, Buzzard, 2 ring-tail Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, 3 Merlins. Also seen was a hunting Barn Owl and six Whooper Swans. Well tidy. Happy Christmas!"
This is a verbatim report from our ex.warden on how he spends his lunch hour.
"Hightlights; female Hen Harrier, juvenile Marsh Harrier, 3 Buzzards, Sparrow-hawk, Peregrine, 2 Merlins, 4 Kestrels (the magnificent seven!), 8000 Pink -footed Geese on the adjacent NNR with 2500 on the eastern stubble field, 1600 Skylarks, 400 Linnets on the salt marsh with 150 around the car park ponds, c.20 Tree Sparrows, c.40 Reed Buntings, 3 Corn Buntings, 13 Brambling, 5 Chaffinch, 5 drake Pochard in the river channel. Well worth a visit if you ask me!"
The following is copied from Ribble Estuary Facebook site and was compiled by one of our most enthusiastic birders.
"Just a few notes about birding at Hesketh Out Marsh at the moment.
For map see http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=330737625441#!/photo.php?fbid=103515129677225&set=o.330737625441
For what it's worth my route at HOM is normally (numbers correspond to sectors on map):
Dib Road between Hesketh Lodge farm and car park for Tree Sparrows.
Car park (16) - weedy field between car park and seawall good for finches at the moment; hedge for Bramblings, Corn Buntings and Tree Sparrows. Barn Owl often here early morning.
Walk east past pond towards raised seawall. Scanning from here along the east bank of the RSPB reserve often produces Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and Merlin. Lapland Buntings currently in the fields to the east (8 - still RSPB reserve) but difficult unless flushed by a raptor. Can be with Corn Bunts or Skylarks. Scan fields to east out towards Douglas for harriers, buzzards, Golden Plovers or wild swans.
Walk back through car park to viewpoint and scan saltmarsh (6 & 7). Often a Peregrine on dead trees.
Walk west towards Hundred End along seawall. 'Inland fields' for Tree Sparrows, Bramblings and sometimes Golden Plovers. Merlin often perched on birches in hedges. Western saltmarsh has lagoon (can't see this from viewpoint) but frozen at the moment. Scaup was here recently.
Walk as far as Hundred End to scan NNR (2) for geese. Geese can be out of view but this is best chance of seeing them feeding at HOM. This is my favourite area - good for Hen Harrier, Barn Owl, Merlin and Lapland Bunt at the moment with big Skylark flocks.
Walk back along public footpath (between fields 11/12) unless there are wild swans here (not at moment). The fields near the model aircraft club were wet in the autumn and good for waders (Curlew Sands, Little Stint). Any of these hedges can have Brambling and Tree Sparrow at the moment.
Hope that helps. I'll post more if I think of it."
This morning visitors reported seeing two Waxwings and 3 redhead Smew flying westwards over the seawall. Other birds included a Lapland Bunting, again, in the weedy field near the car park, 7+ Bramblings, 25+ Chaffinch, 20 Tree Sparrows, 4 Corn Buntings, a Sparrowhawk mobbing a ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin and 10 Grey Partridge.
Early yesterday a watcher counted 5,700 Pink-feet at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh and Hundred End; part of the count for the Lancashire Pink-foot census which is currently 50K and counting. There was also a Lapland Bunting with Skylarks, ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin, Barn Owl and a Peregrine narrowly missed a Stock Dove right over his head. Back at the car park there were 2 Bramblings and 2 Yellowhammers.