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.
- and thanks to one of our most prolific recorders. Yesterday, the following was his (almost) verbatim report.
The fields inland from the seawall are worth a look at the moment. At least 7 Bramblings there with Greenfinches and Chaffinches this morning. Also in the same field: Ruff, 15 Dunlin, Grey Plover, 35 Golden Plover, 50 Lapwings, 24 Curlew and 5 Yellowhammers. On the saltmarsh / estuary: 4 Little Egret, 1700 Lapwing, 430 Golden Plover, a female Scaup with 70 Mallards and 2 drake Pintail on the lagoon, 70 Wigeon and 200+ Teal in the creeks, 20+ Shelduck, 120+ Skylarks, a Buzzard, a Merlin, a Peregrine and 5+ Kestrels. On the rest of recording area: 21 Whooper Swans, 45 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 14 Corn Buntings (car park), 2 Grey Partridge, a Goldcrest, 3 Tree Sparrow, 25 Reed Buntings and 400+ Pink-feet on the NNR.
A report from a hardy watcher yesterday afternoon found a visit well worth while. He saw a Hen Harrier, 2 juvenile Marsh Harriers, 2 Peregrines, 3 Merlins, 3 Kestrels, a Raven, 4800 Teal, a female scaup (been around a bit), 440 Linnets, about 200 Meadow Pipits, 45 Greenfinches, 30 Pied Wagtails, 5 Grey Partridges, 7 Herons, 5 Little Egrets, 90 Redshank, 1900 Golden Plover & 2100 Pink-footed Geese.
Yesterday, a Lapland Bunting was amongst the Skylarks. There were plenty of Reed Buntings and a couple of Corn Buntings and a few Tree Sparrows as well.
The warden saw a Snow Bunting take off from the new saltmarsh at high tide today and head off high towards Southport.
Another birder listed 15 -20 Whooper Swans with 6 Mute Swans mingling.
There were 300+ Pink-footed Geese, 50+ Wigeon, 70+ Mallard, 700+ Teal, 4 Tufted Duck and a Pintail. 6 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 900+ Lapwing, 195 Golden Plover, 12 Grey Plover, 4 Ruff, a Greenshank, 7 Dunlin, 30+ Snipe (undoubtedly more present), 150+ Skylarks, 50+ Starlings, 1 Grey Wagtail, 40+ Meadow Pipits, 4 Tree Sparrow, 4 Reed Buntings and 30 Fieldfare heading east. Also 6 Grey Partridge and a single Black-tailed Godwit.
Raptors included 5 Buzzard, 3 Merlin, a Peregrine, 2 Sparrowhawks and 7 Kestrels.
Although outside the HOM recording area around the River Douglas, Fieldfares were everywhere! An estimated 1200 in four flocks plus 4 Redwings and a single Brambling there too.