Willy ( see photo) and his fellow vigilante Jack have been attracting the attention of local and national media this week. They have been recruited as part of a strategy to protect the eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds such as Lapwing and Avocets from predators such as foxes. Llamas are highly territorial and are fond of spitting, kicking and neck wrestling all accompanied by a pretty revolting soundtrack which will hopefully discourage the foxes. My little terrier is very uneasy near them and she's quite blind and deaf in her old age!
Nesting Lapwings have been closely monitored in recent seasons by a group of students from the nearby Edge Hill University and as this continues, hopefully, the success of this experiment should be apparent before long.
The thinking is that a bruised Llama is preferable to a shot fox.
This afternoon the Long-billed Dowitcher back in front of Nel's hide on Rimmer's Marsh.
A female Montagu's Harrier was seen by a reiable observer flying through the reserve yesterday, a Marsh Harrier and a Spotted Redshank were also recorded
A good start to the day. At 8a.m. along the perimeter of the sandworks I recorded 27 Linnets, 2 Grey Partridges, 10 Wheatears (4m, 6f), a female Whinchat, a female Merlin and a singing Willow Warbler. Over Crossens outer marsh; a female Marsh Harrier and Raven. Lots of Whitethroats, Sedge and Reed warblers on territory at Marshside now - easy to see and hear. Four Carrion Crows foraging on the ground on Sutton's marsh.
At 'working' lunch produced a breeding plumage Long-billed Dowitcher Also there; Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, 85 Ringed Plover, 190 Dunlin. 90 Black-tailed Godwits and 8 Ruff. c.200 Swift 'moved through' and a Peregrine and a Merlin were on the saltmarsh again. Oh - and several Lapwings incubating on Rimmer's marsh!
The last 2 days have witnessed increasing warbler activity.
On the 27th.10 Whitethroat and 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 male and a female Whinchat, a Grasshopper Warbler, 5 male and 3 female Wheatears and 14 Greenland-type Wheatears on Wheatear Corner at the corner of the coastroad and Marshside Road, 7 Sedge warbler, 2 Reed warbler, 4 Reed bunting as well as 12 Linnet, 2 Tree Pipits and 3 White wagtail were recorded.
Rainfords Haul Road overlooking the Ribble channel produced 5 Eiders, 2 Common Terns, 2 Peregrines (sat on the beach!), 90 ringed Plovers, numerous Dunlins and a spectacular flock of 950 Golden Plover that flying directly overhead.
Hirundines included 40+ Swallow, 6 House martin and 2 Sand martin.
Passerines included 2 Dunnock, a Song Thrush, 4 Wren, 2 Great tit, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch and 37 House sparrow.
Waterbirds included 74 Shelduck, 44 Teal, 28 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 36 Mallard, 6 Pintail, 28 Shoveler, 33 Redshank, 42 Black-tailed godwit, 7 Ruff, 22 Avocet, 34 Lapwing, 2 Little grebe as well as 4 Little egret and 2 Grey heron.
Also a Kingfisher at the north end of the reserve - and there are still more than 500 Pinkfeet in the area.
Today one of the 12 Ruff on Sutton's Marsh was lekking.
6 Swifts and all 3 hirudines were present as well as a good count of singing warblers - 7 Blackcaps, 4 Sedge warbler, 4 Reed warbler, 6 Whitethroat, 5 Willow warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler, also three Tree Pipits.
A male Whinchat and two Greenland Wheatears were on the north side of the disused sandplant.
Is it any wonder that Hobby was prowling around!
From Sandgrounder's Hide at 6:30 am there were 19 Avocets, including 2 mating and being generally aggressive, chasing away the smaller birds such as the Moorhens and the Common Sandpiper. Also around were a pair of Teal, 12 Canada Geese, 1 Heron, 5 Tufted Ducks, 4 Moorhens, 2 Coots, 8 Shelducks, 2 Wigeon, 6 obvious Lapwings and probably many more, 2 Wigeons, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Oystercatchers and 140 Black-headed Gulls.
At 12.45 today, a White Stork was seen by a number of watchers - another first for Marshside?
Earlier, at 7.45 am, pre heat haze, the warden saw 5 Gannets and four Sandwich Terns offshore, with 170 Sanderling, 600 Grey Plover and 550 Bar-tailed Godwits amongst huge flocks of Knot and Dunlin on Marshside beach.
Later, highlights included a male Redstart on the golf course and 2 newly arrived Swifts (joining 200 Swallows, 40 Sand Martins and 8 House Martins) a male Whinchat at the old sandworks and a breeding plumage Mediterranean Gull in front of Nel's hide. Also there were 12 Ruff and a female Ruddy Duck.
A growing list of incoming Passerines included 135 Meadow Pipits along with Whitethroats, Sedge warblers, Wheatears, and a Reed Warbler. Plenty for the usual Merlin, Peregrine, and Kestrels to have a go at. Waders today, included 210 Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Little Egret and about 80 Avocets. Recently, 111 Avocets were recorded during a WeBS count - a record for Marshside. 58 Cormorants were a large number considering water levels on the reserve are low. Mammal sightings included some suprises. As well as at least 4 Hares on Rimmers, Marsh with 1 on the golf course, there were 3 water voles in the golf course ditch, and a Water Shrew there was probably a first for Marshside! Small Tortoishell, Peacock and Speckled Wood butterflies all on the wing. A cracking Marshside day!
Now the wind has moderated its starting to feel like summer here. House and Sand Martins, Swallows and Sedge Warbler and Skylark singing. Whitethroat, Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Linnets around the old Sandplant and a dozen Lesser Redpolls fliying north over Hesketh Golf Course, and a Whimbrel calling over Rimmers Marsh.
12 Avocets with 3 on nests and 2 very young Mallard chicks continue the feel but still about 3,00 Pink Foots around and about 400 Golden Plover.